Mallika Sherawat, Vicky Kaushal, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Shraddha Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Kapil Sharma….what is in common to all of them? I will tell you what: I’ve seen all of them change overnight. Some of them have become unrecognizable monsters.
It takes a lot of willpower and grace to remain oneself even after stardom hits you. I have seen success affect actors in two ways. They either change completely or pretend not to change. Kartik Aryan pretends not to have changed.
Alia Bhatt is the exception. She has not changed one bit since she sashayed into sight in a swirl of girlie poise in Karan Johar’s Student Of The Year in 2012. Alia was not only Student Of The Year. She was the whole school. Endowed with the kind of natural talent and fresh beauty that I saw in Lucille Ball and Sridevi, Alia was just the antidote to the syntheticity that had crept into Bollywood ever since the norm and benchmark for feminine persuasiveness became how much and how frequently an actress is seen on social media.
Like Tiger Shroff, Alia Bhatt was treated as a bit of a joke on social media when she started out. I don’t know who started it. But Alia has branded an airhead because she couldn’t tell Karan Johar who the President of India was on his show. She could laugh at herself and that made her special in an industry where actors you’ve known for years take offense for one critical line written in a review.
Oof, the number of actors Karan has got into trouble by making them say more than they should. But I forgive Karan all his trespasses of excesses for having given Hindi cinema (and now Telugu cinema too) Alia Bhatt. What an eye for talent Karan proved himself!
I remember after watching Student Of The Year I told Karan he had given Indian cinema three new stars.
“But you mark my words. Alia is the most special talent to hit our cinema in years. She will take the country by storm,” Karan had prophesied.
8 years later Alia is the youngest empress of Hindi cinema, rivaling her success-ratio with Hema Malini who is by far the most successful heroine of all times.
Nobody makes ‘Alia jokes’ any longer. Waise Bhi, Alia talks more sense than many of her contemporaries like Deepika Padukone and Kangana Ranaut who have a reputation for being ‘serious’ talkers (looking as though they know what they are saying on intellectual forums).
Oh, damn! Now Kangana is going to berate me for propagating nepotism. But honestly, it is not about whose child you are. If it was that, then Mahesh Bhatt’s son too would be a star by now. Why is Alia the chosen one? Could it be her radiant beauty, her onscreen presence and her ability to grasp the requirements of a character without gasping for breath?
Or wait, is it the fact that the purity of her soul is reflected in her screen presence?
The stories of her generous spirit are legion. When my dear departed friend Kalpana Lajmi was in serious need of medical funds it was Kalpana’s best friend, Alia’s mom Soni Razdan who was looking into the critical situation. And it was Alia who was quietly dishing out the money to pay the bills.
You won’t hear Alia’s PR machinery creating a brouhaha about her largess. Give the girl her parents, grandparents, Karan Johar, Ranbir Kapoor and her cat. And Alia is fully satisfied with life.
10 hits in 7 years. And two more Kalank and Bramhastra coming up. Really, she couldn’t ask for more. Very rarely does success of this magnitude hit its right target. This time, it’s bang on target. So thank you, Karan Johar, for giving us Alia Bhatt. We forgive you all your other trespasses. Even your performance in Bombay Velvet.