Alia Bhatt: "Kolkata. the food and the rosogollas are shundor!"
he walked away with that shimmering glitter in her debut film but when she decided to get back with her second venture, she chose to be different and unique. Unlike other contemporaries who are trying to feature alongside the heavyweight superstars in 100 crore mindless flicks, Alia meandered her way through with a film as poignant as Highway.
On her first trip to Kolkata ever, Alia went total gaga about the food, the people, the mishti and opened up in an exclusive chat with our Little Birdie en route the Highway route, oh-so-seriously!
So, this being your fist visit to Kolkata, how is the experience?
Well, Kolkata is shundor and very nice. It has this warmth which makes everyone feel welcome over here. And all that I had been doing ever since I reached the city is eat and eat and eat! Imtiaz has been taking us out for food-hopping all around and it has been fantastic. More than the film, we are having food over here in Kolkata.
Did your father (Mahesh Bhaat saab) guide you about what food and which restaurants to try out here?
Well, not really! He and I did not discuss about this. But he did tell me that in Kolkata, I would find the people very warm and welcoming which I did! But other than that, I always had rosogollas on my agenda which I have almost accomplished. The rosogollas here are amazing!
You sang your first song in the film, titled Sooha Saaha, under the able guidance of the maestro Rahman sir himself. Any memories from the recording session?
Yes, it is absolutely fresh in my head! I remember being in the studio and Imtiaz sir didn’t come yet. We went into the room where Rahman sir was playing the piano and he was trying to like make me practice and hear me out. So he said, ‘1.2.3, 1.2.3, 1.2.3, three times and I didn’t know when I am supposed to start singing. So we did that for four more times and then I finally mustered up the courage to tell him that I don’t know when I am supposed to sing. He obviously helped me through it and I am so thankful to him. Had he not helped me, Sooha Saaha would have never helped!
Imtiaz Ali is known to extract the most wonderful performances from his actors. How was the experience being an Imtiaz Ali heroine?
Well, yes I am very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to act with someone as talented as Imtiaz right in my second film and that is what ticked me on for Highway! You won’t believe me but when I read the script, I kind of knew that this film will be a hell of a journey Not just the film, but my character in the film goes through so many layers, and ups and downs that even I was not sure whether I would be able to pull it off. And technically that was the first question I ever asked Imtiaz! (Laughs) So he is not only known for extracting god performances but he is also known to letting you feel that you will be able to do a brilliant job. That was where I depended on him and post that there was no stopping. I don’t really know whether it was a good performance or a bad performance from my end but it was definitely an enriching and enjoyable experience!
Your first film was all pomp and glitter while your second film has you in a totally different de-glam role which is more performance oriented than just the fashion statements! Was it a conscious decision on your part to do a film like Highway to break away from the mould you were into?
To be very honest, the de glam part of the entire story did not strike me at that point. In my head what was difficult for me was the physical and the emotional aspect and by physical, I refer to the physical exhaustion that I required to go through for the film. It was never about the physical appearance because it did not hit me at that point. But now that I have been asked this question all over so many times at so many conferences, people tend to like come and say, ‘What do you feel?’, ‘How do you feel?’, I just want to say that no it was never a conscious decision. It just happened and it was unexpected and a very good thing!
Well, with such a performance driven role in highway where you are garnering accolades right from the first trailer, do you think this will rather catapult you to the league of A-listers?
Thank you for the compliment! You made me blush with that! I don’t know about anything of that sort but I will be honest to you. I will just hope that this happens. It is not that I signed the film to somehow get to the top and be an A-lister, no that was never on my agenda but if my performance gets appreciated and people feel that I have huge potential as an actress, it would be really great!
What are your expectations from Highway as a film?
I already know what Highway has to offer and I already know what Highway is. I am expecting the audience to see what I see in Highway which is really, really difficult and that is what scares me the most. If they get it wrong, then it is definitely going to break my heart!
How different was the course for you with a film like Highway in hand?
A film like Highway is of course way different from what I had done in my first film or even thought of doing in my second film. For a starter like me, it is more like a challenge. The character was very different, de-glam, very rigged and very real! That itself was a plus for me. Then, the general storyline of me being the rich high school student who has everything going in for her to being this rich girl again but now she’s thrown into a situation where she doesn’t have everything going for her possibly. Maybe everything is going in for her but then, she doesn’t know about it. It is a very unexpected situation that kind of comes her way and turns her world upside down. Student Of The Year was not much about that. It had a very straight path whereas Highway has a path that we discovered only while we were shooting. So that in itself was whole new discovery for me!
Pictures by: Akash Goswami