In this interview, Alia Bhatt, who will be seen next in Meghna Gulzar’s directorial Raazi, talks about her career graph, her idea of patriotism and how she wants to portray different characters.
Q. Your first period thriller. Did you feel burdened in any way, since you’re playing a character inspired by a real-life person?
It was a very big opportunity for me to portray something very honest. As it is based on a true story, there automatically comes a sense of responsibility. I had to create this character of Sehmat from scratch. Even when there is a book on Sehmat (Raazi is an adoption of Calling Sehmat by Harimder Sikka), I think it was a personal journey of cracking the character. We started cracking her character on a very basic level. For me it happened when I learnt how she spoke as the way people speak, it depicts their personalities.
Sehmat is the nicest person, full of innocence. But I can’t relate to her. No! There is too much of a selfless act that she has done for her country. I don’t think I can ever do that. I can empathize with her but I can’t relate with her. I was very careful because I knew what I am doing is acting, but what Sehmat did, actually happened. It was scary.
Q. What has been your takeaway from Raazi?
I learnt a lot. What we think is being patriotic is quite opposite to what true patriotism is. We think we are patriotic because we believe in our country and that we love our country. But that is not enough. There has to be action resonating our feelings. We have to add value. We have to participate in activities that are not only beneficial to us. This is what I learnt from this journey of playing Sehmat in Raazi. As an artiste and as an individual, I have a huge number of followers, people who look up to me. What is the use of having people following me if I can’t use my voice for any good.
Q. Since you play an Indian spy married to a Pakistani military officer during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, what is your take on patriotism?
I have a take on a lot of things, but I think that’s the problem today. Everybody has a take on everything. There is no need to have a take, just feel. Don’t only talk about what’s wrong. Think about what we can do to fix what is wrong. For example, when I went with Aamir (Khan) recently, it was a candid decision. I understood what he is doing. He is imparting knowledge to people of our country, to the farmers who need it and doing his bit with Paani Foundation. This way people know how to survive and solve their problems, and in turn solve the drought crisis in Maharashtra. For me that is being a true patriot, for me actions speak louder than words.
Q. In your career span of eight years, you have portrayed some very different characters. Is it a conscious decision you made?
It is conscious, but in an unconscious way. My heart is automatically reaching out to these roles. It is so happening that every film I am doing is so different from one another. I am not picking up the same film.
It was a golden moment for me when Highway came my way. It showcased my side as an actor. I want to be glamourous and be at the top of all fashion portals, but I also want to be at the top of all National Awards.
I want to have a balance of both. When I started acting, I didn’t know if I’d excel or fail. I just took on the opportunities and this is what my life is about. I can only be better than my last performance or bring myself out of the last bad performance, if at all.
Every film that I have done has credited me in some way. Student Of The Year gave me my biggest youth fan base. Highway made me realise my potential and now Raazi.
Q. Meghna Gulzar is known for her ‘documentary’ type films, based on authentic research. How was it working with her?
I loved working with Meghna. I love her films, especially Talvar. It left a very deep impact on me. In my honest opinion, her attention to detail is very specific, and she takes it very seriously. And, because of that the world she creates, feels very real.
I can’t believe that I have done a film like Raazi with Meghna because along with her I have also lived the life and journey of Sehmat. We have nurtured this film. We have given it a lot of love as it is such an intense story.
Q. Are you content with the way your career is shaping up. Are there any new goals?
Contentment is very boring. I don’t like to be content. I like to be satisfied with a task and complete it. I then want to be satisfied with a new task. I keep moving on.
And, goals are limiting. Once you achieve a goal, it is over. A new goal has to be set. It is better not to set goals. Keep working hard and keep getting better at it. That’s what I believe in.