BY ANUJ RADIA

She is only six years old in the Hindi film industry (not including her acting appearance as a child actor) and at only 25 years of age, is playing the main lead in acclaimed filmmaker Meghna Gulzar’s next.

From the fashionable Shanaya in her debut film Student of The Year to the victim who develops Stockholm syndrome in Highway, Alia Bhatt’s uninhibited and raw performances has had both the critics and the box office cheering.

Critics and fans alike have been drawn into the Udta Punjab star’s performances finding themselves emotionally investing into her characters whether it’s Humpty Sharma’s Dulhaniya or Kaira from Dear Zindagi.

Is it any wonder she is known as the youngest female superstar of Bollywood and a very bankable actor!

Playing a daughter, a wife and a spy in Meghna Gulzar’s forthcoming film Raazi, Alia is set to exhibit more shades to her acting calibre and we’re extremely excited to see her in this avatar.

Raazi is an adaption of Harinder Sikka’s novel ‘Calling Sehmat’, which is a true story based on a young girl (played by Alia), who was sent to Pakistan in 1971, to source out any information she could, as a war was becoming imminent between India and Pakistan.

In an exclusive with our entertainment reporter Anuj Radia, Alia decodes and opens up with Asian Style on becoming Sehmat for ‘Raazi’.

Alia, firstly, what made you ‘Raazi’ for an intense and gripping film like Raazi?

I think exactly that, the fact that it was gripping and intense. One of the main prospects that made me agree to do a film like ‘Raazi’ is the fact that it is a true story and I’ve never done a true story before.

To be a part of a true story, was a very special experience because whenever you’re shooting the film or enacting your part, you will always have it in the back of your head that “this is not fiction and it actually happened.”

The fact that it’s being directed by Meghna Gulzar, was also another reason why. I’m very fond of her. I loved her last film Talvar, I wanted to work with her after watching it.

Besides being a spy between two neighbouring countries, could you kindly tell us more about the life of your character – Sehmat?

The spy part is the main part of the film. What I can tell you, is that Sehmat is a very simple girl. There’s not much change that takes place in her personality just because she suddenly becomes a spy.

That is something that Meghna and I were very clear about. We maintain the fact that she is a young girl, who is totally unaware of certain things. Despite being brave, she still has that ounce of fear in her.

She is still sensitive and simple. These factors make up her character and what happens to her after that, is the situation of the film.

You share screen-space with your mother, Soni Razdan, for the first time. What did you learn from her – not only as a parent – but also as an actor?

I learnt that I’m very similar to her, in terms of mannerisms. It’s very similar to the way we are on-set.

We have a certain detachment with our scenes and characters, we don’t sit and stress about it. We will do a shot and get out it. It is that switch on and off for us as actors.

How did director Meghna Gulzar challenge you as an actor in this project?

She held my hand throughout the process, the real challenge was the script she wrote. That itself was the biggest challenge for me in this aspect.

Otherwise, once she and I cracked the stone of the character, we didn’t really need to push each other on set, it all just flowed. The whole process became seamless and natural.

You are one of the most diverse actors we have in Bollywood today and directors seem to have a lot of faith in the range of roles they are offering you. What would you attribute this to? 

I think it’s the fact that I showed them a lot of different parts in the past, so I think that makes people a lot more confident that I will be open to different kinds of films.

At the end of the day, I also feel that the director always tries to get an actor on board for the film first. I always attribute that to the directors wanting to fulfil their wish.

Your father Mahesh Bhatt is also a great filmmaker. If you could turn back the clocks and play a role in a film of his, what would that be and why? 

Honestly, I would not want to retouch any of his films because all of them are so iconic and simple, that you would not want to meddle around with it.

But if I were to choose, I think I would choose to be a part of Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke because I love that film.

Alia, if you were an espionage in real-life, what would be your top 3 missions to accomplish and why?

I don’t think I’ll be able to accomplish or want to accomplish any mission.

My one and only goal are to help the world, wake-up to the environmental issues that we are facing and raise awareness of how we are neglecting animals.

In fact, that’s my life mission right now. So if I was an espionage, this would be my ultimate mission.

Listen to our interview with Alia Bhatt here:

Post-Raazi, you have an exceptional line-up of films in the pipeline. How are the preparations going for that? 

We are just shooting the movies right now. I’m shooting for both Kalank and Bhramastra.

They are going well because we are all breaking our backs and working very hard so that is a good sign of progress!

Well, we surely believe that you are ‘breaking your back’ as hard work most certainly shows. Keep progressing Alia Bhatt.

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