When Alia Bhatt made her debut with Karan Johar’s Student of The Year everyone thought of her as just another nepokid with a filmy background with no acting skills but the movie itself didn’t need acting skills as it was a typical high school rom-com that didn’t expect great performances from its actors. Featuring Varun Dhawan and Siddharth Malhotra who were also debuting with it, all they needed to do was to look good and sing and dance. The movie was a hit because of the student crowd but neither the movie nor the actors impressed the critics and audience with their performances.
It was Alia’s second movie Highway directed by Imtiaz Ali that made people aware of her acting skills. Imtiaz Ali is always known for extracting the best from his actors be it, KareenaKapoor, in Jab We Met, Saif Ali Khan in Love Aajkal, Deepika in Cocktail, and RanbirKapoor in Rockstars. When Imtiaz Ali signed Alia Bhatt after an acclaimed movie like Rockstar, everyone got surprised but Imtiaz couldn’t care less and went on to make Highway where he signed Randeep Hooda who is a brilliant actor as the main lead. Given the age difference, most of the people were skeptical about the movie. Highway, based on the Stockholm Syndrom is the remake of Imtiaz Ali’s own one-episode TV serial of the same name which was the part of Star Bestseller where every episode has different stories with different actors and directors.
Coming back to the movie Highway, here Alia played the role of Veera who holds from higher strata of the society and is engaged and getting married soon but one unfaithful night when she was out her fiancé, she gets kidnapped by Mahavir (RandeepHooda) whose profession was to kidnap people from affluent families and asking for ransom. In starting Alia was quite afraid but slowly during the journey, she realizes about the vast class difference that exists in India along with finding out that Mahaveer is not a bad person but someone who is in the wrong profession. The journey makes her face her inner trauma of being molested while she was a kid. A relationship grows between Mahavir and Veera that is not romantic but more of understanding and caring about each other. In the climax scene when Veera outbursts in front of her family where she tells about the thing she is hiding within her inside and became a part of her existence.
Highway did decent business at the box office because of its non-commercial subject but Alia impressed everyone with her acting. She won the Filmfare Critics Award for Actress that year. After Highway, she went on to give back-to-back hits with movies like 2 States, Humpty Sharma ki Dulhania, Badrinath ki Dulhania, etc where her performances were appreciated but it was Udta Punjab that solidified her position as a dependable and very good actress. Udta Punjab was about the drug menace in the state of Punjab with an ensemble cast of Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Diljeet Dosanjh, and Alia Bhatt. In the movie, she played the role of a Bihari migrant in Punjab which is very unlikely for the person Alia Bhatt. Alia Bhatt learned to talk in a Bihari accent and went glamourless for the movie. She surprised everyone with her acting in this Abhishek Chaubey directorial and won her first Filmfare Best Actress award for Udta Punjab.
She then acted in Dear Zindagi who is facing mental issues and it movie also featured Shahrukh Khan as her therapist. Directed by Gauri Shinde of English Winglish fame, the movie did average business at the box office but as usual, she impressed with her performance. Her next movie was Raazi where she played an undercover Indian spy and it became one of few female-centric movies that did business of 100 crores. It’s not that she didn’t see any failure as her two movies Shaandar with Shahid Kapoor and Dharma Production’s big-budget movie Kalank failed very badly at the box office but she made a comeback with highly successful Gullyboy and critically acclaimed Kapoor and Sons. She nailed the character of Shakina an over-possessive girlfriend of Murad played by Ranvir Singh.
She won her second Filmfare Best Actress Award for Gullyboy where she played a practicing doctor from a conservative Muslim family who wants to break out from the shackles of her family, especially her mother’s old school thinking. In between, she signed Brahmhastra, a superhero fantasy movie with Ranbir Kapoor, and it’s directed by Ayan Mukerjee of Wake Up Sid and Yeh Jawani Hain Deewani fame. The movie took five years to be completed because of the amount of VFX and CGI the movie of this scale needed. During the shoot of Brahmhastra, she and Ranbir fell in love, and recently both of them got married.
The biggest breakthrough of her career came with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiwadi where she played the role of the real GangubaiKathiawadi who was a prostitute and later went on to be the leader of sex workers and the matriarch of the women of brothels. To prepare herself for the role she studied the work of yesteryear’s actress Meena Kumari along with watching movies on the subject of sex workers like Mandi starring Shabana Azmi and the Hollywood movie Memoirs of a Geisha.
She gave a terrific performance in the movie and it went on to become a big hit. She did a small cameo in SS Rajamauli’s highly successful Pan-India movie RRR. Without a doubt, she is the biggest actress in India today who do not need male superstars to get openings for her movies and with movies like Ayan Mukerjee’s Brahmastra with Ranbir, Karan Johar’s Rocky aur Rani ki Prem Kahani, and Sanjay LeelaBhansali’s dream project BaijuBawra, both with Ranveer Singh, it seems that she will grow more as a star in upcoming years and the best part is the age is on her side as most of the leading actresses today are thirty plus. At last, we can say if she chooses her coming movies wisely she is going to rule the box office and become one of the biggest female superstars in India.