The Alia Bhatt Interview: 'I Won’t Deny Having a Relationship'

Just heartbeats away from yet another triumphant performance in Meghna Gulzar's Raazi, Alia Bhatt speaks on her skills, her life and working with her mother
The Alia Bhatt Interview: 'I Won’t Deny Having a Relationship'
Alia Bhatt

You just had a private screening of Raazi. What were the responses like?
It was for the crew, cast and  family. You  know, I can’t be objective  about my own work. This film is different from my others in that it has certain suspense element. All of us associated with the film knew what the surprise element was. So I  was  looking at  the responses  of  my guests to see how they reacted  to  the  surprise element. And it was all  very heartening, very encouraging.

Does people’s approval  matter to you?
Of course  it does. There are some  people in  my life whose opinion is really valuable to me. That apart, I make all  my decisions myself. The scripts I read and decide to do are chosen by me. Of course I sound off the scripts to some people close to me. But for better or worse,  the final decision to do or not  do a film is mine.

I’ve read the novel Sehmat from which Raazi is adapted. Sehmat according to me is a far more revealing title…
We were in two minds about whether  to go with Sehmat or Raazi. We  finally went with Raazi. Naming the  film after  the protagonist seemed a  bit…

Narcissistic?
Not  narcissistic.  But it kind of deflects  the attention from the film to the  actor. I am more comfortable with the  film not being named after my character.

You got to work with  your mother (actress Soni Razdan) for  the  first time. What was that like?
It was as though she had come visiting me on the sets and  decided to join me in front of the camera. We were very  professional in front of the camera. And  like  any mother and daughter when  it was  off. Sadly  it was mostly work, work, work. We hardly got any time to hand around together.

Raazi is  your first political film. And you play a  selfless woman ready to die for her country. Do such people really exist any more?
I am sure they do. That’s how civilization moves forward. It is true that self-preservation is the first instinct of every human being. Would anyone put the country before one’s own life the way Sehmat does  in  Raazi? Yes, of course! What about the jawaans  who put their lives in danger to protect the country? So yeah, I think it isn’t impossible to have that level of  selflessness even  in today’s day and age, provided there  is the right impetus to  look beyond yourself. And Sehmat finds that impetus.

I believe Raazi required  more preparation than all your other roles so far?
I’d agree with that, yes. The closest I came to  preparing this much was  when I did Udta Punjab. For Raazi I set aside a  month before shooting. I cleaned up my Urdu language. I  learnt how to drive a  jonga (a jeep used  by the Indian army). I  learnt some self-defence  moves plus some techniques that  spies have to learn  before they are on their job. It was  a lot of  hard work and  fun. But I think  no  amount of preparation can really prepare  you for that moment when you finally face  the camera.

Do do you prefer  going into a character  unrehearsed?
I prefer  going into my character without polishing her flaws and  imperfections. I don’t want to  be this shining diamond on screen. I like to show the vulnerable  unpolished side  of my character.

Speaking of  brushing up your Urdu, was that hard  for you to do?
It was a new way of working. Normally we don’t pay that much attention to the way we speak our lines. But let  me tell you , Ranveer Singh, my co-star in  my next release Gully Boyz, is very much into linguistic fine-tuning. He actually works on  the  voice, the tone, the way the dialogues are  spoken for his characters. I like that.

You have done some really entertaining ads  with Ranveer Singh?
Yeah, I enjoyed doing those with  him. Even in those ads you can see how much he works on his voice and accent. But shooting Gully Boyz with Ranveer is a different experience altogether. Zoya Akhtar(the  director),  Ranveer and I  had loads of fun.

Do you also play a rap singer in Gully Boyz like Ranveer does. Are you a Muslim character again ?
No I am not a musician in Gully Boyz. As   for the way I look. I leave it to  Zoya to  explain all that when they are ready.

Zoya would be  your third female  director, fourth  if we count Sangharsh which you did as a  child with Tanuja  Chandra. How different is working with Gauri Shinde. Megna Gulzar, Zoya Akhtar as compared with your other directors?
No difference at all. There is  absolutely no difference between  working with male and female directors. I don’t think we should evaluate  talent according to the individual’s gender. If you are referring to women as  more sensitive directors  then  let me remind you, my father Mahesh Bhatt made some very sensitive   films like Arth, Saaraansh and Zakham. So I won’t go with a gender division of directorial abilities.

Six years  as  a leading lady. How do  you  look back at the frenetic rush of  projects and  the  stardom that you’ve obtained? Are  you exhausted? Do you  need  a break?
Not at all. In fact I am more enthused  now than ever before. I  love that rush of adrenaline that  I feel when I  start  a film. I  also love  promoting  my films.

How do you deal with the  uncomfortable  questions on your personal  life?
I  don’t  have  to deal with it. Those who ask about it have to deal with it. I am  very clear that my personal  life is  personal.  It is my space. Which is  not to say I will deny having a  relationship. But I won’t validate  a rumour or gossip by accepting or denying anything that’s written  about me.  I am okay with journalists writing about my personal life. I  won’t talk about it. It’s as simple that. Controversies, rumours gossip are all  part of  the game. I don’t get rattled  by what’s written about me, except  for a few times when the report was completely  off the mark.

Would you miss the limelight when  you are no longer in it?
Of course I know  a day would come when  it won’t be there any more.  It is therefore important to  not take it too seriously , to enjoy it while it lasts. I am having a blast.

Have you signed  anything new?
Actually, I have. But I leave the announcement to the producers. At the moment I’ve Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boyz which is complete. Now the one year would be taken up with Bramhastra and Kalank, both Karan Johar’s productions which is  like  home to me.

What  is the one thing that you most look forward to every day?
The early morning inspirational message that my father sends every morning. I preserve each one of them.

Are they  his own or forwards?
I don’t know, I never check. I am just happy for my father’s words of wisdom.

Do you remind  him when he  forgets to send it?
I never have to. He is  very good with keeping his rhythm of routine going, at least with me.

You sound far more  mature now than  you did  earlier. I think you finally know who the President of India is?
(laughs) Yes, finally.

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