On Alia Bhatt's birthday, tracing her Kashmiri, Gujarati, German roots
At just 28 years old, Alia Bhatt has an enviable body of work behind her. She had starred in critically acclaimed movies such as Raazi, Udta Punjab, Highway, Kapoor and Sons and even commercial successes such as 2 States, the Dulhania series and more.
On the personal front, too, Alia remains constantly in the news, thanks to her high-profile relationship with the scion of the Kapoor clan, Ranbir. But how many of us are aware of her family background? Alia can trace her roots back to Kashmiri, Gujarati, German and Uttar Pradesh Muslim communities. On her birthday on Monday, here's a dive into her background.
Alia is the second child of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and actor Soni Razdan. The Bhatt family is well-known in Bollywood. The patriarch of the family was Nanabhai Bhatt, a Hindu Nagar Brahmin from Porbander in the Kathiawad region of Gujarat. He was known for producing fantasy and mythological films. It is he who reportedly introduced the 'twin' phenomenon in Indian cinema. His very first film, Muqabala (1942), had featured 'fearless' Nadia (born Many Ann Evans, an Australian) as the good sister and gangster's moll.
Nanabhai was married to another woman but had a long relationship with a lady called Shirin Mohammad Ali, the latter being Mahesh's biological mother. Shirin was reportedly a Shia from Lucknow. Though they loved each other, Nanabhai never married her. Mahesh had been troubled by his parents' relationship and even translated it on the screen with his film, Zakhm (1998). Incidentally, Shirin's sister and Mahesh's aunt Purnima (born Meherbhano Mohammad Ali) was a successful film actor in the 1940s and 1950s and is the grandmother of actor Emraan Hashmi.
In an interview with journalist-writer Kausar Munir, published in Hindustan Times, Mahesh had spoken about being a brought up by his mother. “But I don’t know what a father really is,” he had said. “I never really had one. I have no worthwhile memories of my father, therefore no idea of what a father’s role should be. I am the bastard-child of a single Muslim mother, of Shirin Mohammed Ali.”
While Alia's paternal side is often in focus, the maternal side of her family is equally interesting. Soni Razdan's mother is a German woman by the name of Gertrude Hoelzer while her father, belonging to the Kashmiri Pandit community, is a man called Narendra Nath Razdan. Gertrude and Narendra had met when he was student of architecture in London. Soni was born and raised in Birmingham, UK, and came to India later in her life. That is the reason she is a British citizen, just like Alia. Her father is also an accomplished violin player and it is through music that Cupid had struck.
Speaking about her parent's romance, in an interview with Hindustan Times, Soni had said: “Dad was an extremely gifted violinist even drawing praise from Yehudi Menuhin. So, even as a student, he would tour all over Europe with the iconic classical Indian dancer Ram Gopal’s troupe. Dad had invited someone to one of his concerts in London, and since they could not make it, they had given the passes to my mum, saying she should go backstage and thank Mr Razdan after the show. That’s when they met and he invited her for a coffee..."
“On their return, mum made her home in Mumbai and became an accomplished nursery teacher introducing many progressive teaching methods in the city,” Soni had continued.
Alia, and her sister, Shaheen Bhatt, often share pictures and videos with their maternal grandparents. A few years back, a video of her grandparents playing 'Happy Birthday' on Alia's birthday had been shared by the Highway actor.