Alia Bhatt is a good actor, mainstream star, child star, and also often a subject of online memes. But if you ask her directors, the moments between becoming a character in a story and who she is, are where Alia Bhatt really comes out. The moments rarely seen by foreigners but the most intimately experienced by his collaborators.
On Alia Bhatt’s birthday, indianexpress.com reached out to filmmakers Gauri Shinde and Meghna Gulzar, who directed Dear Zindagi (2016) and 2018 Raazi, respectively, and explored the actor’s vulnerable and receptive side. While in Cher Zindagi, Alia offered a deep and intimate portrayal of a young girl struggling with the effects of childhood trauma, Raazi saw Alia give a searing performance as a young woman left alone in a field of battle, where she finds love to lose it. forever.
Gauri and Meghna, who gave the actor two remarkably different characters to play, worlds to inhabit and enemies to fight, revisited their experiences filming Alia and how her strength lies in her ability to feel deeply. Meghna remembers Alia’s shaking hands during a scene that made her realize that the actor no longer played Sehmat but had become her.
“There is a vulnerability and a delicacy in Sehmat, in her being that Alia brought to the character just with the way she approached and interpreted him. There were times when you could see his hands physically shaking onscreen and you couldn’t always pull it off as a performance. You have to tremble in the depths of yourself while being this character for him to appear like this in front of the camera, ”says the director.
Sehmat allowed Alia to tap into a myriad of emotions, the guilt of which was especially crucial as the woman’s journey on her mission was filled with lasting regret as well as suffocation for not being able to mourn her sins. Meghna shares how the scene where Sehmat finally crumbles after realizing she had come too far to go back, Alia took charge and guided her director’s gaze in a direction she wanted the footage to take .
“The scene where she breaks down in the shower – the scene after the interval – after killing Abdul, all I said to her was, ‘This is how you hold up, this is what you do. You turn on the shower and take it from there. Where she went, how much she cried, that’s all her. I just let the camera roll until it finished its blast cycle and that’s when I called cut. So a lot of times I’d take the cues from here to figure out where I should call cut and a lot of times it would take me to point out how far the emotions need to go, which is, I think, a fabulous synergy. working relationship between an actor and a filmmaker.
It’s the same synergy that Gauri Shinde mentions when she talks about seeing Alia as Kaira in Cher Zindagi. Like Meghna, even Gauri found herself in an equation with the actor where they didn’t need to converse to discuss a scene. “She just got it. I don’t know what else to say. Of course, we thought in the same way as people, but it’s also because Alia is very receptive. She’s open to feeling things, ”says Gauri.
Unlike Meghna however, Gauri didn’t write Kaira with Alia in mind. The actor made the character his own with his understanding of the emotions Kaira was supposed to feel. Alia entered Dear Zindagi after a series of romantic comedies and a heavy highway, but the maturity she has shown defied inexperience.
Gauri attributes this depth to Alia’s openness to vulnerability. “She lets herself feel things and is affected by them. She’s not trying to be someone who wants to avoid feeling certain emotions. She is very receptive. This is why his performance seems so natural. More than understanding the character, it is about understanding the emotions. You have to be deeply passionate to be deeply affected by things. And Alia is an extremely passionate girl, who loves to live her life every moment. “
Kaira drew a picture of all of these people, struggling to articulate the engulfing sadness and when they try to find a solution on the outside, they realize that the answer lies somewhere in their own past. The character demanded that Alia convey her chaotic, restless, and exhausted state of mind without saying much.
“I didn’t tell her to look sad, hurt or angry because everyone interprets sadness in their own way. What we knew was that there would be no dialogue, but she understood the emotion so well that she was able to bring out that expression. And Alia is so beautiful even when she is sad.
“I don’t think anyone looks so attractive when we’re in a bad state of mind. And when I say attractive, I don’t mean it in a cliché sense, but that she’s so charming that she looks attractive on screen in any situation. She just had Kaira very well. Even today, when I meet her, I want to give her a hug because I find her so innocent and charming, ”says Gauri.
Revisiting the dramatic climax of the film, where Kaira lets her guard down and reveals to her family the traumatic childhood they imposed on her, disrupting her mental peace even as an adult, the director says it remains an unforgettable day so that Alia’s breakdown took everyone. by surprise.
“It was the hardest to shoot. It was surely a challenge for her because it needed a lot of emotional intensity. The way Alia played it left me surprised. Her explosion, the crying of it all had to come from a real space, a place, a trigger within her because it wasn’t a performance. That’s all her. I remember when it ended there was silence in the room and I went to sit next to her and all I wanted to do was give her a hug because she had it. look so tired, so exhausted.
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