One for the road
While director Imtiaz Ali says he wanted to make his directorial debut with his upcoming film, Highway, actor Alia Bhatt couldn’t help but fall in love with her new character. Navleen kaur Lakhi writeschandigarh Updated: Jan 21, 2014 11:36 IST
Imtiaz, even if you followed the conventional rule of getting right down to business at a press conference, we wouldn’t have loved you any less.
So, according to what he tells us later, Highway — shot across six Indian states — is a film that Imtiaz wanted to make his directorial debut with. About the story of Veera (Alia Bhatt) and Mahavir (Randeep Hooda), Imtiaz says, "In past 15 years, I had thought about making this film with many different actors — from Sunny Deol to Bobby Deol. Now, the film is a little different than I imagined it 15 years ago."
In Chandigarh on Monday to kick-start the promotional tour of his upcoming film, Highway, Imtiaz decides to meet and greet everyone personally, before getting down to Q&A.
Not many know that the story of the film has already come out on television. “The story of Highway had already appeared on Zee TV’s Rishtey as one of the episodes. I thought that instead of those 45 minutes, the story needed to be told on a bigger scale,” reveals Imtiaz.
Though the movie travels through Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir, Imtiaz says it is more than a travel film. “It is a film about self discovery; it’s about finding yourself when you are displaced, taken away from home and life as you know it.”
About the not-so-expected casting of the film, he says, “I mostly choose actors who fit the role perfectly. When I met Alia, I instantly thought, ‘arrey, yeh hi toh patakha guddi hai’.”
For those who haven’t acquainted themselves with the film’s music yet, Patakha Guddi happens to be one of the songs in the film. Which leads us to the film’s music — one of the strong points of Imtiaz’s films. “You can’t categorise the music in this film the way you did in Rockstar.
One of the songs, Sooha Saha, written by Irshad Kamil and sung by Alia, was mere a suggestion in the beginning. But, I think actors and singers are not very different from each other. Both arts are similar. One needs much more to be an actor than just good looks.”That little right dimple, the naughty eyes, the élan of being the new-age fashion diva and those strange facial expressions — this star kid is utterly cute.
When in the city, Alia Bhatt chooses to start talking about Chandigarh first. She recalls, “The most cherished memory of Chandigarh is from our days of shooting in Phillaur — I drove two hours from there to visit the McDonalds in Chandigarh. We were shooting in places such as Noormahal and Faridkot.
And, out of habit, I asked for McDonald’s food to be arranged. When others would eat makki di roti and sarson da saag, I would be eating McChicken and McGrill.”
After making her debut with Karan Johar’s Student of the Year (SOTY), Alia will now be seen in a character that is poles apart from her previous one. Though in SOTY she landed the role after an audition, for Highway, she just got lucky.
“When Highway came my way, I read the script, talked to Imtiaz about it and read the script with him again. Alia started liking Veera. During the shoot, from sitting on the ground to finding chairs completely strange and the cold marble being your bed — Veera’s personality took over me completely,” she says and adds, “SOTY was entirely different — I had to apply a lot of make-up and the character was just the opposite of what I’m playing now. In Highway, however, I have very little make-up!”
What about her equation with Randeep Hooda? “Initially, I didn’t speak to Randeep much, because I used to think that he has done a couple of projects and is elder to me. But, when we talked, I realised he is younger than me, in spirit. Now, he ends up taking suggestions from me!”
As clichéd as it is, what about the pressure of being a star kid? “I like to believe that I’m my own person, but people don’t let me believe that,” comes the reply.
Now, if when Karan Johar couldn’t let her escape the question of being touted as the next Kareena Kapoor, how could we? “Initially, I was flattered when I got to hear such things.
But, I believe there is only one Kareena Kapoor. Being a Kareena Kapoor fan myself, I wouldn’t want anyone else to be like her. I just want to keep doing my own films.”