The ‘Student of the Year’ has grown up. Alia Bhatt on her breakthrough experience of shooting for Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Highway’, being a Patakha Guddi, singing for AR Rahman, achieving the perfect body and being a Jennifer Lawrence fan girl.
From Karan Johar’s Student of the Year (SOTY) to Imtiaz Ali’s Highway, how would you describe the worlds of your two directors?
The world is entirely different because the content of the films is different. SOTY and Highway are like South and North. I had to do a lot of learning before SOTY. Since it was my debut film, I didn’t know anything at all when I faced the camera. I had no idea about clothes and make up. I had to learn to walk in heels. I learnt doing ‘the heroine thing’ in SOTY. On the other hand, Highway was all about connecting with myself. Highway has been a life changing experience. I come from a protected environment of a Juhu house and I wasn’t exposed to life as shown in Highway. It’s not that I’m a snob but I was cocooned from the reality of life. The film made me aware of life and myself.
What’s been your biggest takeaway from working in Highway?
The film has impacted me on a deep level. I feel if it weren’t for the film, my life wouldn’t be the same. That’s the reason I really want this film to do well because it has been THE experience of my life. I’m not the same person after this film.
The film’s team has some really interesting Highway diaries to share. Can you tell us about your shooting experiences?
I had a lot of questions and self doubts whether I’d be able to shoot the film the way Imtiaz wanted it to be like. But I connected with the character on such an instinctive level that I decided to go all out. I sat on the ground, swung from the trees, learnt to live without hot water and electricity. Sitting on a chair became a luxury. I didn’t look at the monitor once during the shooting, which was vastly different from SOTY where I wanted to see every little frame to see how I was looking. I didn’t even brush my hair while shooting for Highway. We travelled throughout the country, into the villages and I got to meet so many women — real women — and I realised how strong they are. They have so little but they have such depth. City living makes us so disconnected with reality — we are in our bubble. At least I was. I’ve also been bashed for it but I’m honest about it.
What is Imtiaz Ali’s special quality as a director that you connected to?
Imtiaz has this quality that makes continued…