For all her prim-n-propah demeanour, there’s something endearing about Alia Bhatt — and that’s her childlike glee. She’s perhaps the youngest among the new-gen lot of actors in the Hindi film industry, but definitely one who knows where she is heading to. One of the most sought-after newbies, Alia in true Bhatt style sets her own rules and speaks her mind. The confidence with which she fends off questions that at times can be too intrusive can take you by surprise. That innate maturity is evident when you watch her in Highway, where she tackles some heart-wrenching scenes with utmost ease. It wasn’t all that easy, admits the actress, fessing up to being emotionally drained by the end of the film. In a candid chat-a-thon with Screen, the Bhatt gal gets talking about getting under the skin of her character Veera, the pressure of being an actor and the advice her father, film-maker Mahesh Bhatt gives her. Excerpts:
After the starry debut in Karan Johar’s Student Of The Year(SOTY), you went the extreme end with your second film, Highway. How did that feel to you?
It was actually one of the most exciting experiences for me, because there was travelling in Highway, and the route that we took in the film wasn’t the regular tourist route. We’ve shot in isolated areas. It was exciting because I didn’t know what to expect from a particular place, and the weather conditions would keep changing. We also had to constantly worry about the time, mostly about shooting before the sun set. All of it made the process more spontaneous and thrilling. There were times when we would create dialogues on the set, since the shot would take inspiration from the location, and I enjoyed that the most. One of my favourite shots in the film involves one of these spontaneous moments, when the location was pretty and Imtiaz (Ali, director) said, ‘Let’s just take one shot here’. I enjoyed it because when you get dialogues on the spot, it’s spontaneous and looks real.
Did the film demand a lot from you in terms of getting the character Veera right?
Every role is challenging. Playing Shanaya in SOTY was also challenging as I didn’t know how to walk in heels, so I learnt to be more poised. But Highway was definitely challenging for me, physically, and emotionally. I didn’t really prepare for it. Imtiaz wanted me to be as raw and untouched as possible. I had to be like a blank sheet of paper, ready to be written on, so the blanker the page, the better. The only thing I probably did was to take a few diction classes as I play a Delhi girl, so I had to work on my Hindi. Apart from that, it was physically and emotionally exhausting, I had to push myself a lot, because it was a road trip. But it was continued…