on the actor's trail

Alia Bhatt’s fine balance: ‘I want to be a diva but I also want to be at the top of all film awards’

‘I can join the RAW team, if they need me to right now’: Alia Bhatt on playing a spy in Meghna Gulzar’s ‘Raazi’.

Alia Bhatt has been on planet Earth for all of 25 years, but she has already made it a habit of delivering performances that seem oh-so-easy. Her upcoming film Raazi, directed by Meghna Gulzar, takes the young star in a new direction. Bhatt plays a young Kashmiri woman who is persuaded by her father and the Research and Analysis Wing to spy on Pakistan before the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Bhatt’s Sehmat Khan marries a Pakistani Army officer (played by Vicky Kaushal) and carries out a series of dangerous missions, putting herself at considerable risk in the process.

The adaptation of Harinder S Sikka’s novel Calling Sehmat will be released on May 11. Bhatt’s preparation includes reading the source novel, learning to speak Urdu and Morse code, and driving a Jonga jeep. “I can join the RAW team, if they need me to right now,” Bhatt joked at a press meet in Mumbai on Friday. “But no amount of prep can actually prepare you for what happens on set. It was emotionally draining. We shot the film within 48 days at a stretch without any breaks through 14-hour days. There was no time to ever not be the character.”

Raazi (2018).

Sikka’s novel is supposedly based on real events. “When you are part of a true story, you automatically feel a sense of responsibility even though you have never really seen the real life character,” Bhatt said. “Once you crack the way this girl [Sehmat] spoke, everything is done for you. Because the way you speak is a very big part of your personality. I decided to start her off at the most basic level of niceness and then take her graph from there.”

While she tried to emphathise with Sehmat’s selflessness, she could not relate to the character, Bhatt revealed. “It is too much of a selfless act that she has done for her country – I don’t think any of us have that ability,” Bhatt said about her character. “But I can emphathise with her. That is the only way I can understand the characters that I do not relate to. Even with Udta Punjab, I never really related with Mary Jane [her character], but I emphathised with what she went through. Every moment that I was shooting for Raazi, I kept telling myself that what I was doing was acting, but this also actually happened. That was a bit scary.”

The actor credited Gulzar with helping her create a graph for Sehmat’s character. “I had a great experience working with her [Meghna Gulzar] and I am fond of all her films, especially Talvar, which left a big impact on me,” Bhatt said. “She is one of the most detailed directors that I have worked with. Her attention to detail is so specific and because of that, her world feels so real and you are pulled right into it. I am very glad that I have done this film because I have lived this character along with her.”

Ae Watan, Raazi (2018).

Bhatt has been seeking diversity in her performances ever since her 2012 debut Student of The Year, in which she plays a fashionista who has her own entry song. Since appearing in Karan Johar’s movie, Bhatt has charted a fascinating career, mixing outright mainstream films (Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, 2014, and Badrinath Ki Dulhania, 2017) with unconventional titles (Udta Punjab, 2016, and Dear Zindagi, 2016).

The choice of unpredictable roles is the result of a need to strike a balance, Bhatt revealed. “Every new film will either better my last performance or bring me out from the last bad film, if at all,” she said at the press event. “I want to be a diva and I want to be glamorous and at the top of all fashion portals. But at the same time I also want to be at the top of all film awards. I want to have the balance of both worlds.”

It was Imtiaz Ali’s Highway (2014) that alerted Bhatt to her dramatic range, she said. In Highway, Bhatt plays a young woman who is kidnapped on the eve of her wedding. She develops an unlikely bond with her kidnapper (Randeep Hooda) and gets the strength to confront the sexual abuse she has suffered as a child.

“I looked at Highway as a golden moment to showcase the fact that I am an actor as well,” Bhatt said. “It might have been one of the lower grossing films of my career, but it is the film that had the most impact on people. It happened to me without me trying to make a point. I had no idea at that point if I would excel or do average in my films.”

Highway (2014).

Among Bhatt’s other significant releases over the next few months are Zoya Akhtar’s hip hop-themed Gully Boy, Ayan Mukerji’s Brahmastra and Abhishek Verman’s period drama Kalank.

“Consciously or unconsciously, my heart is reaching out to these roles by default,” Bhatt said. “And it so happens that every film I am doing is different from one another. Because instinctively, I am not picking out the same film.”

A movie’s theme will always trump its box office prospects, she added. “There is no formula that can make a film a hit,” Bhatt said. “It may have songs, top stars and beautiful locations, but if there isn’t any content, it will not work.”

Brahmastra director Ayan Mukerji, Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor. Image credit: Dharma Productions.
Brahmastra director Ayan Mukerji, Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor. Image credit: Dharma Productions.
Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Get ready for an 80-hour shopping marathon

Here are some tips that’ll help you take the lead.

Starting 16th July at 4:00pm, Flipkart will be hosting its Big Shopping Days sale over 3 days (till 19th July). This mega online shopping event is just what a sale should be, promising not just the best discounts but also buying options such as no cost EMIs, buyback guarantee and product exchanges. A shopping festival this big, packed with deals that you can’t get yourself to refuse, can get overwhelming. So don’t worry, we’re here to tell you why Big Shopping Days is the only sale you need, with these helpful hints and highlights.

Samsung Galaxy On Nxt (64 GB)

A host of entertainment options, latest security features and a 13 MP rear camera that has mastered light come packed in sleek metal unibody. The sale offers an almost 40% discount on the price. Moreover, there is a buyback guarantee which is part of the deal.

Original price: Rs. 17,900

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 10,900

Samsung 32 inches HD Ready LED TV

Another blockbuster deal in the sale catalogue is this audio and visual delight. Apart from a discount of 41%, the deal promises no-cost EMIs up to 12 months.

Original price: Rs. 28,890

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 10,900

Intel Core I3 equipped laptops

These laptops will make a thoughtful college send-off gift or any gift for that matter. Since the festive season is around the corner, you might want to make use of this sale to bring your A-game to family festivities.

Original price: Rs. 25,590

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 21,900


If you’ve been planning a mid-year wardrobe refresh, Flipkart’s got you covered. The Big Shopping Days offer 50% to 80% discount on men’s clothing. You can pick from a host of top brands including Adidas and Wrangler.

With more sale hours, Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days sale ensures we can spend more time perusing and purchasing these deals. Apart from the above-mentioned products, you can expect up to 80% discount across categories including mobiles, appliances, electronics, fashion, beauty, home and furniture.

Features like blockbuster deals that are refreshed every 8 hours along with a price crash, rush hour deals from 4-6 PM on the starting day and first-time product discounts makes this a shopping experience that will have you exclaiming “Sale ho to aisi! (warna na ho)”

Set your reminders and mark your calendar, Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days starts 16th July, 4 PM and end on 19th July. To participate in 80 hours of shopping madness, click here.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Flipkart and not by the Scroll editorial team.