The first time this journalist met Alia Bhatt was 10 years ago, when a hesitant but hopeful young debutante stood in the shadow of her mentor Karan Johar, her eyes almost wide with participation. media in Dubai to welcome the prolific filmmaker and his three new finds (the others being Varun Dhawan and Sidharth Malhotra) during the 2012 ‘Student of the Year’ promotional blitzkrieg.
Even then, Bhatt showed a spark, standing with simple grace in a male-dominated space.
Nearly a decade and several interviews later, Bhatt is sitting in front of this reporter again to promote his Netflix thriller “Darlings.” Only this time, that spark is mingled with something akin to wisdom and, dare we say, contentment, as a proud mom perched on the cusp of motherhood, both in her personal life and professional.
The actress, who is currently expecting the birth of her first child with her husband, actor Ranbir Kapoor, has already given free rein to her maternal instincts with ‘Darlings’, the first film directed by her ‘baby’, her production company . Eternal sun.
It wouldn’t be amiss to call 2022 “Alia Bhatt’s year”, with the actress opening the year with critically acclaimed “Gangubai Kathiawadi”, followed by her marriage to the eligible Kapoor in April and this surprise pregnancy announcement in June.
The feather in his cap was the success of “Darlings” for his production house. Since the neo-noir thriller hit Netflix, director Jasmeet K Reen has racked up 10 million viewing hours in its opening weekend alone, setting a record as the biggest opening for a non-Indian release. English-speaking on Netflix. Ten days after its release, the film, which was produced in collaboration with Red Chillies Entertainment, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan continues to rank in the top 10 category in 16 countries, including the United Arab Emirates.
A picture of ‘Darlings’
Image credit: Netflix
Roshan Mathew in “Darlings”
Image credit: Netflix
Vijay Varma in ‘Honey’
Image credit: Netflix
Yet despite the successes to come, Bhatt feels far from invincible. “Nope, [there’s] It does not exist. I don’t feel invincible at all. You know, I’m someone who really believes in letting fate decide. I kind of keep my fingers crossed and don’t talk too much about it,” Bhatt told Gulf News, nestled in her luxurious Mumbai home where she married Kapoor not too long ago. “And every time something good happens, I feel fear, hoping things don’t go wrong now. So I’m actually someone who feels grateful and kind of vulnerable when things are going well. But grateful being the key word here.
As the daughter of maverick filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, the 29-year-old star spent her decade in Bollywood making unconventional choices that largely worked in her favor.
On the heels of mass entertainer “Student of the Year,” Bhatt broke the mold of the conventional child star and chose Imtiaz Ali’s “Highway” for his second film. The gamble made her a bona fide star overnight, with Bhatt pursuing success as she transitioned from commercial pots like ‘2 States’ and ‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania’ to more serious films such as ‘Udta Punjaab. “, “Raazi”, ‘Gully Boy’ and more recently, ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’.
Her ability to slip into a myriad of roles in such a young career has even drawn praise from industry stalwarts such as Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, as well as industry peers Ranveer Singh. , Dia Mirza and Mrunal Thakur.
Even when she became one of Bollywood’s most bankable stars, Bhatt was not satisfied with limiting her growth to that of a film actress. She was here to build a brand and what better than to launch her own production house before she hit 30.
So when ‘Darlings’ arrived, the actress didn’t hesitate. “I kind of decided very early in my life that I would try to listen to every script that came my way because you never know. … And that’s kind of how ‘Darlings’ came about. past,” Bhatt revealed. “I didn’t have time and I had met Jasmeet [film’s director] once before. But I heard she had a script, so I said, ‘Okay, let’s see.
The fact that “Darlings” was written and directed by a woman further piqued Bhatt’s curiosity, according to the actress. “Anyway, she told me the script, and it started off as a normal movie, and then all of a sudden it just changed genres. It took me by surprise and I like to be surprised,” Bhatt said.
“Usually you can predict the path of a movie, but I couldn’t do that with a movie like ‘Darlings’ and that shocked me. I knew I wanted to do the movie, but honestly, I don’t know. how I became a producer. Was it also a good opportunity for me as a producer? And weirdly, I was talking to Gaurav [Verma, producer and COO at Red Chillies Entertainment] who brought this to me and actually supported me a lot to produce it as well. And everything kind of fell into place. So actually, first came ‘Darlings’, then came Eternal Sunshine productions,” she added.
Filled with dark humor, “Darlings” stars Bhatt as Badrunissa, a seemingly naive girl who marries her beloved (played by a tough Vijay Varma), only to discover her dark side shortly after marriage. Addressing themes of domestic violence and alcohol addiction, the film also stars the talented Shefali Shah as Bhatt’s on-screen mother.
Interspersed with sometimes hard-to-watch moments, Bhatt doesn’t deny that “Darlings” saw her going to dark places during her filming, especially during the violent scenes. “But I also have to say that there is a certain detachment with which you also have to approach each of these sequences.
“I mean, I know it’s not happening to me physically at the time. But the imagination of the repercussions is intense. But my job as an actor is to deliver what I feel in the moment, and beyond that, you have to kind of get away from it because it can mess with your head. And the effort is always to take that disturbance and make it the fuel of a good movie. You want to reach out to people, like a woman, maybe sitting at home or in her workplace, watching this and resonating with this story. abuse through Badrumissa’s character who finds the positives in every situation, but Bhatt had a different approach. “In a situation that works against you, you try to believe in the positive and make things work for yourself.”
The actress felt the film was also a strong advocate for feminism today. “There’s this level of abuse in the film, the physical abuse, but then there’s the emotional abuse, the psychological abuse…it’s a mind game that Hamza plays with Badru where even if he doesn’t physically hit her, you can see negativity.And he tries to try to break her trust even in their final moments, he tries to make her think that she’s not good enough on her own. And I think that was one of the, that was one of the cutting thoughts that we used to talk about.
“We need to get this message across. The idea of being alone is so frightening to most people, because we’ve been sold this idea that we need to survive together. And that’s not true, however. This shouldn’t be the case for everyone, especially if you’re not in a happy equation.
Bhatt is one of the few actresses in Bollywood today who can command crowded movie theaters without needing a male hero alongside her on the bill, but for ‘Darlings’ the team made the decision aware of releasing the film on the small screen. production.
“I think we’re learning now that the world is becoming a much smaller place and there’s a lot of different content that lives on streaming platforms that can reach different places around the world. And a story of domestic violence is not limited to a country like India, so why not touch so many other homes,” Bhatt asked.
And even though Bhatt has a busy few months ahead of him, what about with “Brahmastra,” the supernatural movie starring her husband, released in September, sleepy jags she admitted in the middle of the interview came with her pregnancy, followed by the birth of their baby, she is focused on taking her production house to new heights in the years to come.
“Over the next five years, the plan is just to create good content. I want people who may not have created content before, new writers, new directors, to be able to look to Eternal Sunshine as a reliable production house to kind of set that up for them. I want to give new people the chance to realize their dream and bring their creative ideas to life. And yeah, hopefully I’ll get a few movies, maybe even a few shows under the banner.
But Bhatt was quick to dismiss the idea that Kapoor or his father would be involved in any way with his production house. “No. My sister [Shaheen Bhatt] and me, and my team, will take care of it. I don’t think the family needs to get involved. They can watch the movies and give their opinion and give their opinion. But that’s about all.
Don’t miss it!
‘Honey’ is streaming on Netflix