AFTER a couple of quiet years, actress Alia Bhatt has made a triumphant return with crime drama Gangubai Kathiawadi, which recently premiered at the Berlin Film Festival.
She has a whole load of high-profile films on the way, which include RRR, Brahmastra, Darlings and Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani.
Alia will celebrate her 29th birthday next Tuesday (15), so to mark her new film, forthcoming releases and birthday, Eastern Eye decided to compile an all-you-need-to-know alphabetical guide to the crown princess of Bollywood.
A is for Awards: Alia has won multiple awards and nominations at major Bollywood ceremonies for her work in diverse films. Her biggest Best Actress wins have come for dramatically different roles in Highway (2014), Udta Punjab (2016), Raazi (2018) and Gully Boy (2019).
B is British: The actress was born in Mumbai on March 15, 1993, into a film family, but has British citizenship, thanks to her UK-born actress mother Soni Razdan.
C is for Cameos: The in-demand star has done a number of cameos in films that include Ugly (2013), Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016), Zero (2018), Student Of The Year 2 (2019) and Angrezi Medium (2020).
D is for Debut: Alia was just six years old when she made her first big-screen appearance in a small supporting role in 1999 film Sangharsh, loosely based on Hollywood film Silence Of The Lambs (1991). She made her debut as a leading lady in Student Of The Year (2012).
E is for Eco-friendly: The philanthropic actress has contributed to various charities and highlighted social causes, including the environment and conservation. She launched a line of eco-friendly clothing for children and has also started Coexist, an online platform that focuses on ecological and animal welfare issues.
F is for Family: Alia comes from a famous film family that includes her filmmaker father Mahesh Bhatt, actress mother Soni Razdan and half-sister Pooja Bhatt. She is also cousins with director Mohit Suri and actor Emraan Hashmi.
G is for Gully Boy: The 2019 rap musical became India’s official Oscar entry in the Best International Feature category. It would also win Alia all the major Best Actress awards at the main Bollywood ceremonies, including at Filmfare, Screen, Zee Cine and IIFA.
H is for Highway: After multiple nominations for her 2012 debut film, Alia won her first major acting trophy for her second release Highway, when she received a Filmfare Best Actress (Critics) award.
I is for Instagram: With over 60 million followers, Alia is one of the most popular Indian celebrities on social media. J is for Jitters: She may be fearless onscreen, but the actress has revealed that she battles anxiety and has trouble balancing fame with her career. She admitted to having jitters before the release of a film, and one thing that helped is her sister Shaheen Bhatt’s book about living with depression, which helped her gain more awareness about mental health.
K is for Karan Johar: The filmmaker has been Alia’s mentor ever since he launched her as a leading lady in Student Of The Year. He has worked with her on multiple projects including 2 States (2014), Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (2014), Shaandaar (2015), Kapoor & Sons (2016), Dear Zindagi (2016), Badrinath Ki Dulhania (2017), Raazi (2018) and Kalank (2019). She also plays the lead in his forthcoming productions Brahmastra (2022) and Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani (2023).
L is for Literary: Her film 2 States was a big-screen adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s 2009 book 2 States: The Story Of My Marriage; while Raazi was based on Harinder Sikka’s 2008 novel Calling Sehmat. Her latest film Gangubai Kathiawadi (2021) is inspired by a chapter from Hussain Zaidi’s book Mafia Queensof Mumbai.
M is for Marriage: The actress is currently engaged to actor Ranbir Kapoor, and admitted to having a crush on him since she was 11 years old. It happened on the sets of 2005 film Black, for which she unsuccessfully auditioned, and where he was working as an assistant director. After a number of delays, they are expected to marry by the end of the year.
N is for Nepotism: Despite her incredible success, the actress has been at the wrong end of the Bollywood nepotism debate, with many saying she got an unfair advantage due to her family connections. This resulted in perhaps Alia’s lowest moment when her film Sadak 2 (2020) broke the YouTube record for the most disliked film trailer and Indian video globally, and led to her father Mahesh Bhatt’s comeback as a director becoming a huge disaster.
O is for Organising: The actress has admitted to being obsessed with organising and making plans.
P is for Producer: The A-list star will make her debut as a producer with forthcoming comedy-drama Darlings. She plays the lead role in the film, which is a co-production with Shah Rukh Khan’s company Red Chillies Entertainment.
Q is for Queen: Most industry experts agree that it is only a matter of time before she becomes the undisputed queen of Bollywood. One of the highest-paid leading ladies in Indian cinema, she has huge films on the way that will inevitably put her in the Hindi cinema throne.
R is for Refusal: High-profile films that Alia has rejected include Neerja (2016), Raabta (2017), Golmaal Again (2017), Thugs Of Hindostan (2018), Saaho (2019), and Tamil film OK Kanmani (2015).
S is for Student Of The Year: Alia made her debut as a lead star with the musical after auditioning alongside 500 girls and then losing 16 kilos for the role of a teenage student. The film became a success, but she received largely negative reviews and used them to work even harder.
T is for Trivia: Some interesting facts about Alia include her desire to play late Pakistani singer Nazia Hassan in a biopic, and forthcoming film RRR being her Telugu language debut. She is also an accomplished singer (see V) and a trained Kathak dancer. Her favourite movies include Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Jab We Met (2007), Love Actually (2003) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). Also, her nickname is Aloo.
U is for Udta Punjab: Her finest performance and arguably most challenging role came in 2016 crime drama Udta Punjab. Not surprisingly, she won universal acclaim and multiple Best Actress awards at all the major Bollywood award ceremonies, including Filmfare, Screen, IIFA and ZEE Cine.
V is for Voice: Alia has sung a number of songs, with the most popular being a version of Samjhawan for Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania – it has been viewed more than 163 million times on YouTube.
W is for Wealth: One of the highest-paid stars in Bollywood, she regularly features in the list of India’s wealthiest celebrities. Alia also makes millions of pounds from the major brands she endorses and also has her own businesses, including a clothes brand and production house.
X is for X-Factor: The actress admitted that nepotism exists in Bollywood but doesn’t think it is enough to survive in the industry. She said: “In the film business, you can do whatever you want, but there has to be that X-factor that people talk about.”
Y is for Youngster: Alia first realised she wanted to be an actress while rehearsing for a school choir in kindergarten and this led to her taking professional dance lessons. She once said: “As a child, I used to try and emulate Aishwarya Rai, Kareena Kapoor and even Shah Rukh Khan. I wanted to be like him.”
Z is for Zodiac: Alia is a Piscean – someone born under that sign is considered to be compassionate, adaptable, accepting, imaginative, artistic, intuitive, gentle, sensitive and wise. She has used these traits to become a huge success.