Alia Bhatt is not the first Bollywood star who has had two hits in a row on debut. But the kind of adulation that she has received with the releases of her two films ‘Student of the year’ and now ‘Highway’, is simply mind-boggling.
It is true that the youngest entrant from the Mahesh Bhatt clan had a terrific break when Karan Johar launched her at the age of 19 in his film ‘Student of the Year’ in 2012. The film had a not-so-spectacular opening but picked up business as word about the new wonder kid on the block spread around and went to become a blockbuster. For two years, Alia Bhatt, who boasts of a mixed pedigree inheriting part German and part Kashmiri heritage from her mother and a Gujarati father went on to do a lot of things that had nothing to do with films but kept her in the limelight. For instance, she vowed young viewers with her sizzling presence in the Coca Cola ad along with her two co-stars Sidharth Malhotra and Varun Dhawan and also modeled for prestigious brands like Garnier and Maybelline, which only enhanced her star value. She also performed as show-stopper in the Indian Bridal Fashion Week and Wills India Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2014. The school drop-out Bhatt also walked the ramp for the India International Jewelry week and set the stage on fire with her raw energy and dazzling looks. She featured on the cover of ‘Vogue’ and ‘Femina’ and was voted as the Most Desired Woman of 2012 by the Times of India and also as the Most Promising Female Newcomer by the same group.
However, the skeptics in Bollywood did not accept her as a new star and dismissed her popularity to some hot lip-lock scenes in her debut film and her Bollywood connections. That was till ‘Highway’, her second film directed by Imtiaz Ali happened. The film was panned by some die-hard critics for lack of a credible story line but the reaction from the veterans of the industry and new-comers from the film fraternity is unprecedented, to put it very mildly. Javed Akhtar, a veteran with impressive credentials went on to put her acting at par with all-time-greats like Nargis in ‘Mother India’, Meena Kumari in ‘Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam’, Nutan in ‘Bandani’ and Shabana Azmi in ‘Arth’. One would have imagined that Shabana would be angry but she is equally effusive when she tweets:
Alia Bhatt is such a mix of vulnerability n insouciance she tears at your heart in Highway. Randeep not a false note.Imtiaz Ali take a bow
— Azmi Shabana (@AzmiShabana) February 21, 2014
Karan Johar, who had launched Alia with “Student of the Year” lauded her, saying:
I felt like a proud Parent when I saw #Highway…Alia Bhatt is exceptional!!!
— Karan Johar (@karanjohar) February 20, 2014
Director Shekhar Kapur had to say:
— Shekhar Kapur (@shekharkapur) February 20, 2014
What is most refreshing is the lavish praise she gets from her contemporaries who should normally feel jealous. One of the latest sensations in Bollywood, Parineeti Chopra tweeted:
Go go go @aliaa08 !!! Highway is going to be huge and you are going to be the best actress and biggest star ever ! Guys dont miss it 🙂
— Parineeti Chopra (@ParineetiChopra) February 21, 2014
What probably stands out after watching ‘Highway’, a story about a girl who develops Stockholm Syndrome towards her kidnapper played by Hooda (not a novel theme), is the kind of mature and melancholy expressions portrayed by this young and beautiful discovery.
As a child, Alia had played the young Preity Zinta in ‘Sangharsh’. Watching Alia’s ‘Highway’, the actress, known for her dimples as much as her acting, felt nostalgic and believes that Alia Bhatt, who played her younger version in ‘Sangharsh’, will go a long way.
I still remember seeing @aliaa08 as a little cutie on the Sets of Sanghaarsh playing mini me. This one will be the Brightest star 4 ever 🙂
— Preity zinta (@realpreityzinta) February 24, 2014
Now that Alia has proved that she is not a one-film wonder, she is cruising ahead with two more prestigious projects, one of which, ‘2 States’ based on Chetan Bhagat’s book by the same title, is all set for an April release, co- produced by Karan Johar and Sajid Nadiadwala starring Arjun Kapoor. She especially learnt Tamil to live her role, insiders said. Yet another film where viewers will get a chance to watch their favorite star will be ‘Humpty Ki Dulhaniya’, where she plays a Punjabi kudi with gusto.
By Amitabh Srivastava