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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

Mahesh Bhatt on Alia Bhatt’s birthday: She gave me an autograph that read, ‘Thank you papa for not helping me at all’ 

As Alia Bhatt celebrates her 25th birthday, today, her father, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt talks about how she is the most balanced of his three daughters.

bollywood Updated: Mar 15, 2018 11:20 IST
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Hindustan Times
Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt says that his youngest daughter, Alia Bhatt, has given the Bhatt brand a new sheen.
Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt says that his youngest daughter, Alia Bhatt, has given the Bhatt brand a new sheen.

The famous father of a famous daughter — filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt lights up with joy when talking about his youngest daughter Alia Bhatt. Proud of her career choices, ideologies in life, achievements and sense of maturity at such a young age, Bhatt calls Alia “the best gift of his life”. He says, “She lights up my inner skies that even thousands rainbows wouldn’t.”

As Alia turns 25 today, Bhatt can’t stop gushing about her for she has not only made a mark for herself as an actor but also surpassed the kind of stardom her father enjoyed. Excerpts from a candid chat with the filmmaker:

Alia has taken forward your legacy…

This wonder child of mine has outdistanced and outshone me in the dawn of her career. She has just made her foray into the world of movies with a spectacular take off. I take great pride in proclaiming to the world that it gives me unimaginable joy when people come to me at airports or restaurants, in book shops seeking a picture for their children because I happen to be Alia Bhatt’s father. I get to hear that ‘your brand Mr. Bhatt has been redesigned, refashioned and reinvested by your little girl’. She has given the brand Mahesh Bhatt a new sheen. She has added a halo to my life in more ways than one emotionally and even in terms of brand equity.

Do you always support her career choices or keep giving her suggestions?

One of my most precious treasures, which I’ve preserved, is an autograph that Alia gave me after her first film, Student of the Year (2012), became hit. She had written: ‘THANK YOU PAPA FOR NOT HELPING ME AT ALL’. I think that’s something I flaunt to the world because nothing could be more librating for a parent that to see his own child take off and have a kind of a spectacular launch without their help and that speaks volumes of her talent. I have never in any way given her a shoulder or felt the need to suggest to her what roles to take, which project to do or which she should not do. She is, wherever she is today, because of her own choices and not because of her father or her mother [Soni Razdan]. She is a self-made girl.

When not shooting, how is she at home?

She is a lot of things. Contrary to what people imagine that a film star has got hardly any time for family, it was Alia, who came up with this idea of having a Whatsapp family group, where we all communicate all the time and know exactly what’s happening in whose life and where. She’s the one who spearheads a get together and insists that we do have a meal together and spend quality time irrespective of how busy our individual lives are. And when we are together, we are hysterical, hilarious and psychotic. We have this emotional highs and lows where we cry, we hug, we fight and we love. We feel very nourished by each other’s presence.

Actor Alia Bhatt and with her father, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt at their house in Juhu.
Actor Alia Bhatt and with her father, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt at their house in Juhu. ( Aalok Soni/HT PHOTO )

Any eccentricities that not many know about…

She is, compared to my other two daughters, Pooja and Shaheen, the most balanced. Alia has a very passionate demeanor, a way of expressing what she feels with intensity, but she is a very steady flame. She is like me — punctual and meticulous about what she is thinking and delivering what she has taken responsibility of. You can’t have a career like this by being ‘eccentric’ or half hearted about things.

Does she confide in you about personal matters?

She has never felt the need to communicate to me about things, which she knew I would read without her telling me. When you have bond so intense and deep, non-verbal communication happens, and the dialogue is not at the mercy of spoken words. We know exactly what’s going on and we sense each other’s depths more in our silence. But of course, when she has something which is overwhelming, she has a way of reaching out to me and asking me my views, but more as a person, who has a radical view of life rather than a ‘father’ because she somewhere sees that there is an unusual mind and a heart that beats there.


A post shared by Alia ✨⭐️ (@aliaabhatt) on

Have you ever scolded her?

I don’t scold my kids. I just express myself wholeheartedly. I have never, as a parent, told them that this is the model and you have to fit into this, yet I’ve been very realistic and said it to them that ‘this is the world and these are the standards that we have basis on which they will judge you.’ So, if you want the cookies that are there in the jar of the world, you have to achieve that by achieving these standards.

Alia, from being a daughter to an actor…

She was once going to Paris for a holiday alone, and I told her, ‘Alia, you know long productive careers do not happen by chance. One needs to keep on reinventing oneself and that’s easier said than done in a landscape where people are continuously hurling allegations at you’. She looked at me and said, ‘I don’t just want to be remembered only as an actor. There’s much more that’s there in the skies ahead of me to fly to’. And that day I realised that this child of mine has her eyes fixed on something which is much beyond what Bollywood would like to position in front of her. Her journey has just begun and there are no full stops. She does not look at life through the references of the bygone generations. She has got greater skies to soar to.

Your birthday wish for Alia

I would sum up by this particular quote I read years ago, which says something which I run my life on: ‘O my soul, do not look for the immortal but exhaust the limits of the possible’. I am blessed to have a daughter like her.

Interact with Monika Rawal Kukreja at Twitter/@monikarawal

First Published: Mar 15, 2018 11:20 IST

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