Alia Bhatt – Rookie Superstar

Alia Bhatt’s bedtime is 10 p.m. She has dinner by 8 p.m. to keep her date with the Sandman, long before the witching hour. “I like my sleep. I can’t stay awake I don’t know how people do it.” But don’t most kids her age love to stay awake all night and crawl into bed around daybreak? She says she isn’t ‘most kids’. Point made. Alia has an impish schoolgirl charm, yet isn’t giggly or squirmy. She’s composed almost to the point of being ‘aloof’. But she can suddenly brighten up, chatter away, shake her head from side to side and laugh heartily. Her Highway director Imtiaz Ali tells us she is an old soul. Alia who turned 20 in May this year, looks pleased when she hears this.

alia Bhatt


Evidence does point to her being mature beyond her years. She speaks of love in clear, non-frilly terms. She emphasises the importance of self-love. “I love being alone. It is one of my favourite things. I don’t know why people find it odd that I like to sit alone during a shoot. They invariably come and ask me if I am okay.” She might come across as a snob, we point out, and she mulls over this. “Maybe… I guess I do run the risk of giving off that vibe. But I do love being alone. I think someone who doesn’t like their own company is a doomed soul, don’t you think?” she asks no one in particular.

And then the girl in her surfaces as she giggles, and starts talking about her co-star, Arjun Kapoor, in the upcoming 2 States. “Even he looks grumpy all the time. It’s his droopy eyes and mouth. What can he do?”

She tells the waiter, at the coffee shop we decide to meet at, to get her a salad instead of fries with her sandwich. We ask her if her size was ever an issue growing up, or if it affected her self-esteem. “I was huge,’ she says bluntly. “I was a round little ball when I went to meet Karan (Johar). I never expected to bag an audition with him.” Type ‘Alia Bhatt Bahara audition’ on YouTube and you see a tubby girl busting filmi moves. Karan saw potential in her and decided to give her a break if she lost the extra weight and came back to him in three months. “Of course I worked hard to lose it. But I was so huge and that once I decided to knock off the kilos, they came off pretty fast.” But she emphasises that she will never be skin and bones. “I believe in being healthy. But I have a certain goal for my body that I am yet to achieve. And I am working towards it.”

Like most film industry kids – and Alia is director Mahesh Bhatt’s and actor Soni Razdan’s daughter – she too harboured dreams of becoming a star. “I thought I would finish college, go to London School of Drama, return, lose weight, learn Bharatanatyam… go through the usual routine and then try my luck.” But landing the leading role in Student of the Year saved her that grind. She admits she was a little uncomfortable playing the role of Shanaya Singhania, an arrogant rich girl in Birkins and high heels. Learning to walk in heels is what she considers one of her biggest challenges, other than losing weight. “It was so tough initially. I could hardly walk straight. And now, I can’t do without them. Heels do wonders for my posture,” she says.

Shanaya has apparently rubbed off on Alia, who has now started paying more attention to her wardrobe. Before Student… she says she would throw on anything and not care about what she was wearing. Having the sartorially savvy Karan Johar in her life changed this. “If he sees a picture of me shoddily turned out, I get a call: ‘What were you wearing? You were looking like a sandola.’ I am being watched all the time,” she laughs. She fondly refers to the flamboyant director as her ‘career father’, turning to him for all professional advice. He oversees her every move. Interestingly, papa Mahesh Bhatt is called in to offer more life advice than careerrelated expertise. “My father has warned me. He said I must not let this place


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