Alia Bhatt: “If a woman does not believe in her values, how will she fight & stand up?
Says Alia Bhatt - at the peak of her career, Alia is a favorite pan India. Having bagged the pivotal role of Gangubai with the ace filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali there are huge expectations from this beautiful actress. All her films have brought laurels to her during this short span of her career. With her South film RRR which is all set to release on March 25,2022 & Bollywood film Gangubai Kathiawadi is releasing this Friday - 25th, Feb 2022.
Alia is racing to become a southern siren as well, most filmmakers down South are also keen to sign Alia.
A couple of days before the release of her most awaited Gangubai Kathiawadi, Alia Bhatt in a candid conversation with Lipika Verma Alia answers a volley of queries.
Did you read the chapter on Hussain Zaid’s book on Gangubai Kathiawadi?
I didn’t read the whole book, I just read Gangubai's chapter. I read director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s script and narration. My main focus was on this only, though I read one or two more chapters. I got to meet the author in person. He gave me a lot of information about how he met her. And how she was as a person. I was updated about her style of talking. Her entire mannerisms were something I came to know after my conversation with him. Why was she so connected? Why did she have such an impact on people’s lives? We just had a casual discussion which we wanted to put as characteristics.
Kamathipura in Mumbai is the biggest prostitution hub. Did you ever made a visit to Kamathipura?. And now that you have played the role would you like to do something for the women there?
I think a lot has changed in that area now than before. . Not many girls are functioning there; they have moved on in life. Our film is just a backdrop of that area in terms of characterization and journey. This could happen anywhere. It’s the story of a woman who is a voice for many other suppressed women. Who fought for women who didn’t get their rights, many women don’t fight but there are people who stand up for their rights and she did that. I have never visited that area as it was not needed; It was a conversation in which Sanjay Leela Bhansali sir said we don’t need to go there. Sanjay Sir has lived near that area and that’s where his childhood was spent and he was very connected to that world and he had an understanding about the things that happened then. He has seen it very closely that’s why the subject is close to his heart in terms of representation. It was said that she was so popular that her pictures were put up on every auto for 50 years, so many people worshipped her. She fought for everybody’s rights.
You have modulated your voice for the role, what was the brief given to you? What preparation did you undergo for it?
Gangubai’s character spans from a younger age until she grows older. I have not modulated my voice for the younger version. But I had to change as she grew older. Sir wanted the pitch of my voice to be in the lowest base. At the same time, it should not sound lazy but powerful. I had to work on her walk as she turns older .Sir had told me not to put in more energy when she is young but as she grows older it changes. Even in the song Dholida I was asked not to put in more energy. You can notice that in the song, I stoop a lot towards the ground. There is another song in the movie where a song has been shot on the younger Gangubai who is called Ganga. There is a song which is another kind of Garba Jhumeri Gori, It’s a fully energetic song.
We hear for the references of the role you followed Meena Kumari?
Sanjay Sir constantly gave me Meena Kumari’s reference. He would always tell me -see her face is so round and genuinely made me eat. He wanted my face to become like Meena Kumar’s face. He said that people who drink have a round face. From the introduction scene I am holding that Rani Chap alcohol bottle. Those who booze their face grow to a little plumper side. He also asked me to watch Meena Kumari’s songs and Waheedaji’s songs in order to bring out that intensity in my eyes and look. He wanted me to represent that feminine power and grace; she wore jewellery and always put flowers in her hair. He’s a huge Lata Mangeshkar fan so he made me wear white Sari with a huge red Bindi like hers. That was the reference he wanted to create for Gangubai.
How was it working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, what was your reaction when he offered you the role?
I wanted to work with Sanjay Leela Bhansali ever since I was nine years old. I didn’t know that I would ever get a chance but I had decided that I would even be ready to do the role of a wall in any of his films but once he offered me the role I decided to make it to the best of my ability. He makes you go to the best of your ability and he can bring out your strength. People say if you work once with sir you can work with anybody else. I can switch off my brain and still perform small roles to the best of my abilities (smiles). Having worked with him even once you pick up things very quickly.
There’s a dialogue in the film Sampati, Shakti Sadbudhi, how important are these words for women in real life? Do you believe that property, power and good sense is important for women and they need it in their lives to bring in a change in male dominated world?
The thought is beautiful. If a woman does not believe in her values, how will she fight & stand up for herself in her life? I believe that you need to recognize your own values. She is addressing women of Kamatipura. So through these dialogues she makes them aware that you have it in you. If you don’t believe in yourself or your own power then no one will believe in your power. You have to speak up and stand for yourself. These females should be proud of these qualities that they possess. Therefore they don’t need to look for any male for any sort of help as they are powerful enough.
Have your dreams & desires changed now in comparison to your earlier dreams /desires?
They are still the same. I want to have good roles and interact with good people. I don’t want to run for roles now but take it a little slow and steady. I am not in a hurry. I want to take it easy now.
You are surrounded by multi-talented people, who is your best critic?
My best critics are my family, my friends, they don’t need to lie to me and they tell me honestly. I am very detached from this response. I always put my 100% .I am open to criticism, if there is any feedback I take it happily & positively.
How do you celebrate your success?
I eat Dal Chawal and Moong dal halwa. I move on as fast as possible.
Has your dad watched the movie?
Yes, my dad has watched the movie and he found it amazing. We are waiting for the reaction of everybody.
Has Ranbir Kapoor seen the move? What was his reaction?
Rabir has seen the movie but for his views, you guys will meet him soon so then ask him. However, he likes to see me in Gangubai mode.