Before Gully Boy, how Alia Bhatt has emerged as Bollywood’s most unpredictable actor
Is there anything that Alia Bhatt can’t do? At the age of 25, Alia has a filmography that is envy of many of her colleagues. The actor is back in yet another never-seen-before avatar in Gully Boy – the girl from the wrong side of the tracks who promises to ‘dhoptungi’ a rival in love. Ranveer Singh may be the eponymous Gully Boy but Alia holds her own in the film.
Once called a masterpiece by her filmmaker father Mahesh Bhatt, Alia has emerged as a powerhouse performer who has earned her stripes within seven years of her debut. Out of the 10 films she has starred in, all have got love from viewers sans one, Shaandaar. However, more importantly, she has happily walked the fine line between entertainers and roles that are hard to come by for women in the Indian film industry.
Alia can safely be called the best defence of nepotism in Bollywood. After her debut in Student of the Year, she could have been yet another heroine on the periphery of her own films as the camera followed the hero’s trajectory but she proved her acting acumen with her second film, Imtiaz Ali’s Highway. As a woman coming to terms with childhood abuse, Alia was equal parts vulnerability and strength in a very mature performance.
After Highway, Alia delivered two back-to-back romances -- 2 States and Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania. Both the films released in the same year, 2014. She carried on with similar roles in Shaandaar and Kapoor & Sons. However, all the performances allowed her to sink her teeth in and again underline the fact that she was a natural once the camera was switched on.
After the four back-to-back masala entertainers, Alia could have easily been typecast as the girl-next-door capable of just song and dance. However, she left the critics stunned with Udta Punjab where she played a Bihari migrant who becomes an unlikely victim of rampant drug trade. Almost unrecognisable and with few dialogues, Alia broke hearts with the violence her character suffered in the film. But just like the climax of the movie, the actor achieved victory in her career as well. The film faced several cuts at the hands of the censor board and leaked before its release but Alia won praise for her portrayal -- every bit as important as box office figures.
Talking about her choice of films, Alia once told Filmfare, that she goes with her gut response, “My mood at that time, the script and the director… help me decide a film.”
The art of balancing the extremes
A resounding victory for Alia, Dear Zindagi has her playing Kaira, a young woman with serious emotional baggage. With some deep yet breezy help from Shah Rukh Khan, Alia effortlessly carried the film on her shoulders and made her character believable and empathetic.
After this film, she again returned with a romcom in Badrinath Ki Dulhania, her third film with Varun Dhawan. As a woman who walks away from her wedding to forge her own career, Alia again brought pizzazz to the role.
From the masala entertainer, she went on to play Sehmat in Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi. The vulnerability she infused in the delicate but strong-willed Sehmat tugged at the heartstrings of the audience. The actor not only proved that she can deliver hits single-handedly, she also showed that she can deliver mature performances well beyond her years. Raazi went on to become her biggest solo hit and highest grosser of her career.
The future looks bright
After Gully Boy, Alia has two more releases this year. With a period multi-starrer Kalank opposite her favourite co-star Varun and a fantasy flick Brahmastra opposite boyfriend Ranbir Kapoor, the future certainly looks bright but equally unpredictable for Alia.
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