On 30th birthday of Alia bhatt, looking back on her best performances

Eleven years later, Alia is the most successful heroine in Hindi cinema, rivaling Hema Malini, who is by far the most successful heroine of all time.
She began her career as a leading lady in her mentor Karan Johar’s Student of the Year; before that, she played a young Preity Zinta in Tanuja Chandra’s Sangharsh because they both had dimples. Alia was cast as a Poo spinoff by Karan. It gave no indication of the upcoming powerhouse performer. Here are some of Alia’s best shots.

“Take my word for it. Alia Bhatt is the most unique talent to grace our screens in recent years. “She’ll take the country by storm,” Karan Johar predicted.

Highway (2014): Why was Alia Bhatt’s Stockholm Syndrome so easily diagnosed, and why did she fall in love with her kidnapper? Or why, in the end, she became a victim of child abuse? Perhaps Imtiaz Ali could respond. But the role allowed Alia to veer away from the “poo” image and deliver a raw, hurt, seething performance that made us wonder where all this angst came from.

Udta Punjab (2016): Alia played Pinky, a hauntingly persecuted Bihari immigrant who pumps her veins with questionable drugs to numb herself against constant sexual violation. Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt are reborn as two traumatized characters traveling in opposite directions on the moral scale. Despite this, their painful lives converge at one point in a strange, unexpected, and life-changing encounter. Alia bleeds brilliance into her role, bringing to the screen an electrifying authenticity with her understanding of the complexities that define Punjab’s drug politics.

Raazi (2018): The original story of an unfathomable personal sacrifice made by a female spy for the sake of the nation was infused with a terrifying moral ambiguity. The Pakistani home where Sehmat snuck in as a bahu was full of genteel, cultured, softspoken people who didn’t deserve to be spied on. Alia overcame all contradictions to deliver a flawless performance in an engaging film.

Gully Boy (2019): Alia gets little screen time as Murad’s possessive, fiery girlfriend Safeena, played by Ranveer Singh. Something happens every time she appears on screen. Murad, crammed into the slum’s kerchief-sized rooms, simply wants to fly. When he meets the love of his life, his face lights up. Alia, with her head veiled and her smile unveiled, plays Safeena with an impish charm that brightens not only Murad’s heart but everyone’s. We, too, wonder what life would be like if she weren’t there to brighten our days.

Gangubai Kathiawadi (2021): What would this film be without Alia Bhatt? She is in almost every frame of this masterpiece, lording order over the lewd lads who infest the strikingly designed length and breadth of the redlight district in the 1950s. Hats off to Alia for being who she is. Giving what is unarguably the best performance by a female actor in a Sanjay Bhansali film, Alia tears through Gangubai’s skin to touch her spirit. We don’t know how much like Alia Gangubai really was. But, one guesses if the real Gangubai met her onscreen avatar, she would want to be like her. Alia’s Gangubai is brash and beautiful, heartbreaking and devastating. An exceptional, never-before-seen performance by Alia Bhatt guides us not too gently into the other vital qualities of this film.

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