nly I could have done ‘Safeena’: Alia Bhatt on her character in Gully Boy – In the exclusive interview, Alia talked about her success mantra, her competitive nature, and her father’s valuable advice.
Director Zoya Akhtar’s latest film ‘Gully Boy’ starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt is getting immense appreciation from the moviegoers. Alia plays Safeena in the film, who is a girlfriend of Ranveer’s character named Murad. She is a medical student who has her own struggles in life. In a film that is mostly about Murad’s journey, Safeena comes into view as a full-blown dreamer in her own right thanks to Alia’s terrific screen presence.
In the exclusive chat with Deccan Chronicle, Alia talked her character in the film, her success mantra, her competitive nature, and her father’s valuable advice. Excerpts from an interview:
Zoya Akhtar said you were the first choice to play this character. What was your reaction like when she approached you?
I was very excited because I always wanted to work with Zoya. When I first heard the story it touched the very sensitive part in me. I had tears in my eyes in the end of the narration. I was very overwhelmed. There was no question in my head whether I needed to be a part of this script or not. I was very clear. I knew there was only one person who could have done this part and that was me.
Fans are kicked about your jodi with Ranveer Singh. How was he to work with?
I have worked with Ranveer before in ads and stuff but being on a feature film where our characters have such an interesting, very deep relationship was very special. I not only got to understand him more as an actor but also as a person. The relationship that these two characters share is very real and intense. I never played a character like this before and that makes Ranveer a special co-star for me. Also, the kind of vibe that we had on sets between me, Ranveer and Zoya it felt something new, comfortable and organic.
Besides shooting in the slums, was it difficult to learn new dialect for the film?
Well, the film is based out of Dharavi but the exciting part was not that I am going to a new location. I was more excited about playing this character because was very new to me. Learning dialect was a big part here which is a big step away from who I am. I always try to take steps away from myself; now how many steps away I am taking depends on the content that I get. With Safeena (Alia’s character name in the film) it was quite a few steps but having said that there were certain similarities as well for instance – I like how clear she is in life, or protective she is of her loved ones. I could relate to certain nuances of the character. It was a lot of fun playing it.
Does success put pressure on you?
Yes…and no. when your film does really, really well and you don’t expect it it’s a great feeling. On the other when there are expectations to your film to do well then you start feeling a little fearful. When it comes from nowhere it’s always more fun. With Gully Boy, none of us really expected such amazing response to the trailer. We loved the trailer but the response we received was just unbelievable. It’s the most positive response I have ever got for any of my trailers. So, for me that’s way more never-wreaking than not knowing what is going to happen. When so many people are excited about your film you obviously don’t want to let them down. But honestly that’s the nature of the business and I think all love that about it. No matter how confident you are about work, you will always be nervous because it so personal and so close to you.
How competitive are you with others?
I am a very competitive person by nature but I am out of this ‘others’ thing. I find that a big waste of energy. It’s a creative industry and I think we all should be excited about each other’s work. I take great inspiration in everyone right from my male or female contemporaries or even my directors, writers and technicians. It is a very inspiring time right now for cinema and I think I should only be competitive with myself to better my craft everyday.
How do you go about choosing your films?
See I believe that I should at least hear the idea out even when sometime I may not have the time to do that. You may think where do I put this in but you never know what will come your way and you never know how desperately you would like to do that film. I somehow feel when an actor really wants to do a certain film they find a way. My way about choosing a film is purely and absolutely based on instinct.
How do you get in and out of a character?
Well, I think a part of is it to not take it too seriously. I am dedicated and focused but when I am off-shoot I try to not think about it all the time. Getting in and out of character is way too easy for an actor than a director; the actor has always another film to move on to and that’s the way it’s been with me. But sometimes the characters do linger in your mind and you feel emotional about them. That happened with me with ‘Highway’…and it happened with me with ‘Kalank’ as well. Every actor finds his own kind of rhythm to move on and to get in the new character.
How important it is to take risks for an actor?
It’s very important. I always try to take risks. People usually get conscious with their choices after becoming successful. My father told that an actor gets subjected to ‘once more’ phenomena; it’s like if you are appreciated for something you would want to repeat the same formula. I hope that does not happen with me. However, it’s not that I will take risks for the sake of taking it. If someone tells me it’s a risk but I feel strongly about it, I will take it nonetheless.