Alia Bhatt: Highway connected me with the person within me

Having played a fashionable airhead in her debut film Student Of The Year, Alia has now completed a gruelling, gut-wrenching physically and emotionally exhausting film with Ali

From sleeping under the tree to sitting on the road and eating – Alia Bhatt did all for Imtiaz Ali’s Highway and says that the film helped her connect “with the person within me”. “It helped me to connect with the person within me. My father always said the day an actor finds oneness with the person within is the day he or she becomes a true actor. I think I found that person during Highway. I don’t know how much it helped me to grow as an actor, but the film got me to know things about myself that I didn’t know,” said Alia.

“It was very difficult,” she said and added, “I realise other actors probably come to something like Imtiaz Ali’s Highway after maybe six to seven films behind them. When Imtiaz offered me the role, I was surprised. I’ve had no training in acting at all, and that in a way proved an advantage. Imtiaz was able to mould my personality in the way he wanted. So a lack of training proved an advantage for the film,” she added.

Alia roughed it out on the Highway project, travelling on road, eating at roadsides, living a nomad’s existence during the film’s shooting. She said, “I never thought it would be what it turned out to be. Highway has helped me to evolve as a person and an actor. It was…therapeutic! I felt so connected with the surroundings. It was both physically and emotionally challenging. The role made me push boundaries within myself, which I didn’t know existed. Until you push yourself, you don’t know how tough you are. By the end of the shooting, I was comfortable sitting on the road and eating, and sleeping under a tree. By the end of the film, I didn’t miss my comfortable bed at home.”

Alia has so far led a pretty sheltered life. “I’d say the girl I played in Student Of The Year was closer home. Highway took me to a different world. I’ve been to boarding school where we didn’t lead sheltered lives. And I’ve been for trekking with my mom. But nothing prepared me for the life that I experienced in Highway.”

No time for the 20-year-old, daughter of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and actor Soni Razdan, to be with her parents and friends. “Yes, I guess my life has changed. I am suddenly working hard. To be honest, I missed spending time with my family. But now after a year of shooting I am trying to again spend as much time as possible with my family. During the beginning of the year after Student Of The Year was released, I couldn’t have time of my own. Now I make sure to take time off,” she said.