'I am a very secretive person'...Alia Bhatt drops a hint that she isn't going to take the bait. A few minutes ago, when she had walked in, the actress looked a bit upset with herself for forgetting her phone in another room.
But once the conversation flowed in, Alia at her lively best, indulged in some heart-felt talk about love, relationships, heartbreaks and of course Shahrukh Khan.
Excerpts from the interview...
Q. How dear was your zindagi while shooting with Shahrukh Khan and Gauri Shinde?
A. (laughs) It was very dear. Obviously for me this film was a very fresh experience. Not because I was working with Shahrukh Khan and Gauri for the first time. But because of the subject. Dear Zindagi is very different. You can't compare it with the other films as it doesn't fall in any particular genre. That's why while shooting for the scenes and visiting places, I felt very different. Being different is very dear to me.
Q. So why is the film titled Dear Zindagi?
A. It's like when you write a letter how do you begin? You address as Dear....So, likewise when you are conversing with your life, you will write Dear Zindagi. This is a film about life. So, it's like a letter to life.
Q. How much do you relate to your character in this film?
A. Too much. I would say that of all the characters that I have played so far, this one is the most relatable. I related with this character the most. I feel that you too would relate to it because the situations are quite relatable. Ya, I don't relate to a few traits like my character in the film is too impulsive and doesn't mince her words. I won't react like that in real life.
Q. Have you ever said 'Just Go To Hell Dil' in real life?
A. Yes, a lot of times. Of course, there are break-ups, heartbreaks and you fall for someone who doesn't love you back...
Q. How do you deal with such situations?
A. There isn't any funda for that. I think time heals everything.
Q. How do you maintain a positive attitude in life?
A. It is very difficult to be positive in life all the time. But what I try to do is not have any negative emotions. I feel being negative is a waste of emotions and time.
Q. Do you think the younger generation is dealing with heartbreaks very casually now-a-days?
A. I don't feel we should judge someone. People are doing what they want for their own reasons. I just feel that when you enter a relationship then you should know what are you doing this for. Whether you want to do some time-pass or fall in love, you shouldn't be like this is the step for the next person.
Q. What is the biggest take-away from Shahrukh Khan?
A. Inspite of being in the industry for so long, he doesn't carry any baggage of being Shahrukh Khan. He will go out of his way to make you feel comfortable. I feel that's a very rare quality that you find in people these days especially for a superstar like him.
Q. Do you have a life coach in real life?
A. Not really. I am not against it. I am a very secretive person. But I have a couple of friends with whom I discuss my work, family and relationships.
Q. Did Shahrukh treat you like a youngster around?
A. Not at all. He treats everyone equally. Sometimes when I used to goof around on the sets, he would be like 'Not now Alia, later'. (laughs)
Q. Was there any common thing between you and him?
A. Actually, we both think alike a lot. We are very similar in our working and behaviour. Our gist of emotion is the same but probably the way that we carry it out is different.
Q. Is there anything annoying about him?
A. I wouldn't say annoying but I would feel bad when he wouldn't eat. During the shooting, since the film had many dialogues, the set would be very quiet. Nobody was allowed to speak as the scenes were heavy. We would take long takes, run the whole scene.
Suddenly in the middle, I would hear some grumbling sounds coming from his stomach. So, he would be given a biscuit or something. He drinks a lot of coffee as well. Even I used to have that but at least I would eat something after having it. But he won't. I used to feel bad about that and I still tell him that he should eat.
Q. Is he strict on the sets?
A. Not at all. He is very cool and chilled-out. It's a pleasure to work with him.
Q. Do you think that Dear Zindagi will be the hit that he needs?
A. He is Shah Rukh Khan! He is doing movies because he is passionate about it. Unko iski zaroorat nahi hai, chahat hai. Everybody has hits and flops but I feel he is just looking to making some good, interesting and different work. He is doing all types of films, from Fan, Dear Zindagi, Raees, The Ring, Aanand L Rai's film. It is very interesting that he is broadening his ground so much.
Q. How was it working with Gauri Shinde?
A. I liked that fact that she is so frank and clear. That's why our sync was so strong. We would flow with the scenes very beautifully.
Q. Do you remember meeting SRK as a kid?
A. No, I don't. But I remember that once my dad's close friends had visited us and they wanted to meet him. We had gone to his place. Shahrukh and my father have a very easy relationship. Shah Rukh always says that there's one person's call he doesn't avoid and that's Mahesh Bhatt.
I was 11 or 12 years old then. I had worn an ugly top and had messy curly hair. He had kept sandwiches on the table and I was having one. I was so much in awe. Strangely when we were shooting, my dad sent that photograph to me. I showed it to Shahrukh and he couldn't believe it. That was quite sweet. Other than that, I don't remember meeting him.
Q. At this phase of your life do you feel the pressure of carrying a film on your shoulders?
A. I don't feel it's only on my shoulder. It is more on the director's shoulder. We are actors, we do our work. Obviously, I feel very close to this film and am very passionate about it. I feel that if I am doing something then I should be good at that, whatever age I am at. I feel that way about all my films.
Q. At your age, youngsters are still figuring out what to do whereas you are quite clear about what you want to do in life and are focussed...
A. Everybody's journey is different. However, I would like to tell all youngsters that be passionate about whatever you do, never give on your dreams, even if the dream is small, just be sure about it.
Q. Alia, would you be disappointed if you don't win an award for Udta Punjab?
A. The best man will win. It's not like I wouldn't be upset. I would wonder why not. But I'll move on. Sonam (Kapoor) has done a great job in Neerja and she should be awarded for it. If at the end of the year people feel she was the best, then yes, she was the best.
Q. After Udta Punjab, your next is Dear Zindagi. Is it a conscious move to balance the kind of roles you are going for?
A. Nothing is deliberate. I choose different roles because that's the way I look at things. I like being different. I get bored of doing the same thing again and again.
Dear Zindagi is a light-hearted film. It is a happy film but to pull it off wasn't easy. To pull off the journey of a girl very convincingly was difficult.
Q. Your father Mahesh Bhatt had mentioned in an interview that you are already a star and he wouldn't want to cast a star in his film.
A. Rubbish! He is talking rubbish! It will happen. I don't think he won't cast me because of that. There are talks going on about certain projects but nothing specifically. However, I would like to do an intense love story with him.
Q. There were reports of you doing Aashiqui 3...
A. Yes, we did meet to do Aashiqui; the film has come to me. The script is still in the process of writing, so I am waiting. I would like to do the third part of Aashiqui.
Q. He also said that you are a better actress than Pooja Bhatt. How do you take that compliment?
A. Maybe. I wouldn't say I am a better actor but I feel she possesses other qualities that I don't. She has a great artistic approach. She is a producer, which is a very difficult job. She has been a director which I will never be able to be.
Q. Is there anything that you would like to change about yourself?
A. I get hyper at times; I would like to change that. I get angry very fast. I say things and then I want to take them back. I want to change that too.
Q. Anything that you have done in your teenage years and your parents don't know?
A. My parents know everything. Honestly, I haven't hidden anything from them. Actually, I am very bad at lying. People say that I am a good actress but I think I am the worst person when it comes to lying. I lie so creatively that people figure out I am lying. But now, I lie to my mom sometimes. If I have a late-night pack-up and want to go to the gym in the morning, she gets angry. So, I tell her I am going for a meeting but go to the gym instead.
Q. How was it sharing screen space with Kunal Kapoor?
A. It was amazing. He is a super actor. I know many people who have a big crush on him, they find him very sexy. Once, we were shooting in Singapore and it was pouring heavily. So, we started playing antakshari in a corner because if Gauri would have heard of it, she would have said, 'You guys are playing antakshari here and there my set is getting wet!' (laughs)
Q. SRK is known as King of Romance but you don't get to do any of that in this film. Do you miss romancing him onscreen?
A. No. I don't think there was scope for it in this film. Also, the way people look at things like the age difference, the typical romance wouldn't fit in for them.
I always say that no relationship exists without love.
Q. How is Badrinath Ki Dulhania shaping up?
A. It is shaping up coolly, differently. We were in Singapore for a very long time, so Badrinath has gone international now. (laughs) We shot in Jhansi before and then in Singapore, so you will get to see both sides. It's a very heartland romance.
Q. You and Varun Dhawan began your film journey together. How do you see his career shaping up?
A. Varun is doing great as an actor. He is having 100 per cent trajectory rate. His films have been hit. He is good in the comedy space. We all are proud of each other.
Q. What's your definition of a gutsy woman?
A. She is the one who speaks her mind, is clear, focused and has the guts to say what she wants and stand by. For me Pooja Bhatt is such a woman.
Q. Have you been through a heartbreak?
A. Yes, I have had heartbreaks and when it happened I have gone for holidays. But recently, there has been no heartbreak. I am really happy.
Q. There were reports of you doing Zoya Akhtar's Gully Boy opposite Ranveer Singh.
A. I would love to be in any gully with Ranveer Singh and Zoya. If that is happening, I would be very happy.
Q. When do you start shooting for Ayan Mukerji's Dragon with Ranbir Kapoor?
A. After Ranbir finishes Raju Hirani's biopic on Sanjay Dutt.
Q. Tiger Shroff is a part of Student Of The Year 2. What do you think about it?
A. It's great and who better than Tiger! He is a very unique star and can take the franchise forward.
Q. Gauri in a recent interview said that don't think of Dear Zindagi as a film, instead think of it as an experience. So, has your take on love and relationships changed post doing the film?
A. Not changed. I would say, maybe added a few more bits.