“I’ve always been a drama queen"

In an interview with Vogue, 'Student of The Year' debutante Alia Bhatt talks about how Karan Johar transformed her from a schoolgirl to a heroine

 Her deep-set dimples, her animated expressions and ease in front of the camera bring to mind (her favourite actor) Kareena Kapoor— ‘Baby Bebo’ was the nickname bandied about on the Student of the Year set. She is perfectly comfortable and graciously accepting of all this. “I’ve always been a drama queen and performer,” shares Alia, flashing those dimples, she further adds, “I’ve wanted to do this since I was two years old.”

People automatically assume that it is easy for all star kids but when it comes to Alia, she totally shrugs off that thought, “I am working as hard as I can.” She says.  “There are people who don’t come from the film industry who give it a hundred per cent, so why should it be any different for me? I never wanted to star in my father’s productions because that would have been too easy. Even now, if I don’t say please or thank you, I still get yelled at by my mother.”

Alia considers herself independent and introverted relying more on intuition rather than advice from others. “I haven’t really asked for much help. I wanted to do it myself. But Pooja always tells me how lucky I am. I had Karan teaching me how to act, and Mickey who has taught me how to be a heroine—to stand tall and tuck my stomach in.”

When she does need counsel, she turns to her mother, calling her a friend more than a parent, “I didn’t spend much time with Dad as he was always on-set, but in the last few years, he has started involving me in his work. People love to hear him speak, so I know I can learn a lot.” She adds, “He told me that the best way to fit into this industry is not to fit in.”

Talking about his decision of casting a newcomer in his latest blockbuster, Karan Johar talks about the first day he met Alia, ““Alia came to see me in her school uniform,” says Karan, still incredulous.
“She was 17 years old and 17 kilos heavier. Suffice it to say, I was totally flummoxed.” But the director with box-office bona fides didn’t take long to recover.  He recalls, “We auditioned over 500 girls, all camera-friendly with their 20-inch waistlines, and here was this girl hiding her chubby arms under a sweater, who just had this spark that nobody else could even come close to.” The team’s decision to cast her was unanimous, and it’s a gamble he’s convinced will pay off.

Rumors from the set hint at a budding romance, which Alia deflects like a pro. “It’s not like I haven’t had a crush or a boyfriend—I’m a good-looking girl,” she says, laughing. “But right now all I want to do is act, act and act.” If she had to make time though, she coyly admits she may have a preference for bad
boys. “I like the naughty ones”, she shares.

Whichever way you describe Alia Bhatt, that elusive star quality is undeniable. And one thing’s for certain: come October, there’s a new heroine in town!

Photographed by Luis Monteiro