Shaandaar’s character is closest to the real Alia Bhatt
The rising star kid on the block, Alia Bhatt, will be seen in the quirky and funny shaadi film Shaandaar, directed by Vikas Bahl and co-starring Shahid Kapoor. The vivacious young leading lady talks about her role in the film and future plans.
Shahid Kapoor and you play insomniacs in Shaandaar. Are you insomniacs in real life too?
In real life, I love to sleep and Shahid can’t sleep, but in the film we are both shown as insomniacs. So, there are lots of connections to the real personality; my character’s name is Alia too. But I am living with a certified insomniac, my sister (Shaheen Bhatt). It was Vikas’s quirky head that thought of this idea to lighten the situation too. And he wanted to explore what happens when the insomniacs’ night becomes their day and the moon is the sun.
Which means there must have been extensive night shoots. Was it difficult shooting at odd hours?
I am used to shooting at night now. Of course, it is never easy but you eventually get into the grind. I remember that in UK we didn’t see the sun for a whole month because we were only shooting nights. By the time we would wake up the sun was gone as it sets early in that part of the world. Then, we went to Poland where it was winter and the sky was predominantly cloudy so we didn’t see the sun again.
In the past you have played lively, happy and fun characters. As an actor how different is the role in Shaandaar from your previous characters?
The only lively and happy role I have played was in Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania. In Two States I play a mature girl, in Student of The Year my role was more of the bitchy type and there was no liveliness in my character from Highway. So, in that sense my role in Shaandaar is in a completely different space. In Humpty… I am in Punjab and in Shandaar I am in UK. The look, styling and personalities in both films are extremely different. In Humpty… I wore ethnic and was moohfat and in Shaandaar I am this urban, crazy, cool chick.
The film looks like a lot of fun. Was the shoot also an easy-breezy one?
Every film is hectic, especially the ones that looks fun and happy because you have to look good, feel your best and be in a happy space. Since you channel the energy in your roles it is crucial to be in the zone and mood that the film is set in. Thankfully, the crew and director were so chilled out. Vikas was like a baby on the set, so it was very easy.
Rumour is that Deepika Padukone was first approached for Shaandaar. Are you aware of it?
That is not true. When Vikas just had the idea of making a film on a destination wedding – it wasn’t even scripted or anything – he vaguely mentioned it to Shahid. Shahid told him to make it and promised to do it, but Vikas wasn’t sure if he meant it. Sometime later Vikas went back to Shahid with a better developed idea and told him that he wants to approach me for the film. In fact, I remember Vikas and I had met, strangely, at Deepika’s party (to celebrate the success of Chennai Express, Goliyon Ki Raas Leela Ram Leela and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani), and that’s when he told me that he wanted to meet me for a film. At that time Queen hadn’t released, Haider wasn’t out and Highway’s trailer had just been launched. We were just three people who felt it would be nice to do a film revolving around a destination wedding. I said ‘Yes’ to Shaandaar without a full-script. Vikas just told me five things – the film is about two insomniacs, it’s a destination wedding, my name is Alia in the film, I play a quirky character and it has a father and boyfriend tussle. Back then even Pankaj sir was not on board. But this was enough for me to do the film.
You are working with three members of the Kapoor family – Pankaj Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor and Sana Kapoor. What was the experience and how different are they as actors from each other?
One thing that binds all three is that they are very hardworking. Shaandaar is Sana’s first film. And she is a terrific actor. It is in her genes – she gets it from Pankaj sir and Supriya (Pathak) ma’am. She had this genuinely raw, happy and new energy on the set. I felt very protective towards her as I know what it feels like working on your first film. She plays my sister so we genuinely bonded. Pankaj sir and Shahid are very similar, both of them are very unsure of their performances. The only difference is that Pankaj sir asks too many questions and Shahid doesn’t. Even though Pankaj sir is the most fantastic actor our country has ever seen, he is constantly asking if his performance is fine, like a newcomer. Shahid also has the vibe of a newcomer and one doesn’t realize that both of them have been working for so long.
Is there any similarity between your real life father, Mahesh Bhatt, and reel-life father Pankaj Kapoor?
Yes, I saw my dad in Pankaj sir’s character because when it comes to a boy or a boyfriend in the daughter’s life, all fathers are the same.
By far which character is the closest to the real Alia Bhatt?
By far I have related the most in terms of emotions to my role in Highway, and Shaandaar is otherwise closest to the real Alia.
Between intense films like Highway and Udta Punjab and fun frolic films like Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania and Shaandaar, what kind of films do you enjoying doing the most?
I want the commercial as well as the critical acclaim. I enjoy song and dance and love the world of films like Shaandaar and Humpty… because these are worlds I grew-up watching. I have grown-up watching Govinda-Karisma Kapoor, David Dhawan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan’s films… But I will also do a film like Highway or Udta Punjab every 1-2 years so that I can also play a different character.
You’re father has made some very interesting and successful dark thrillers. Will we ever see yourself in a film in that zone?
Of course! But I also feel there’s a time and age for everything. Right now I am young and I feel kids really look up to me, so I don’t want to scare them. But there will be a point in my life I will do dark thrillers, even if it is in the Gone Girl space. But not try now. Udta Punjab doesn’t cater to kids but it is not a negative character. However, I am not sure about horror films. I don’t believe in ghosts, even though I do get scared of it. I am more attracted to the thriller genre.
What are you forthcoming films?
I have Udta Punjab, Kapoor and Sons and Gauri Shinde’s film (with Shahrukh Khan).
You are doing films, curating shows for an English TV channel, endorsing brands, etc. How do you mange time to pack in so many things?
If I don’t do all this, then I feel I am not doing enough. It is not about managing; it is a want to do more. There are so many other things I want to do but I have kept them aside. Like singing – I want to attack that space but right now it is on the backburner as my hands are full. I will conquer that space a little later.