Alia Bhatt on her second Best Actress Filmfare Award and explains why father Mahesh Bhatt wasn't there in person
Avinash Lohana (MUMBAI MIRROR; January 16, 2017)

Close to noon on Sunday, Mahesh Bhatt posted a picture of his “little big girl“ Alia Bhatt with her second Filmfare Black Lady and asserted, “Once you become fearless, life becomes limitless.“

It's obvious that the proud dad, like the 23-year-old actress's mother, Soni Razdan, and sisters, Pooja and Shaheen, is over the moon after Alia was voted the Best Actress (Popular Choice) at the 62nd JIO Filmfare Awards for her gritty act in Abhishek Chaubey's dark drug-drama, Udta Punjab. So why wasn't Mahesh Bhatt at the NSCI Dome on Saturday cheering for his baby, you wonder, and Alia quips, “Dad doesn't go to any award functions unless he is presenting a trophy to a dear friend. But even though he was not there in person, he was there in spirit. He had asked my manager, Grishma, to put her cellphone on speaker if I won. He texted me later, saying he'd loved my speech. When I wondered how he had heard it, I learnt this. Dad later posted on our WhatsApp family group that he was excitedly doing cartwheels all night,“ she laughs.

Alia had earlier won the Filmfare Best Actress Award (Critics' Choice) for her sparkling turn in Imtiaz Ali's 2014 abduction drama, Highway, and admits that this time she was so focussed on her song-and-dance routine - she paid tribute to five of her fave leading ladies, Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit, Aishwarya Rai, Karisma Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor, with their memorable chartbusters - that she had forgotten she was in contention for the coveted award. “I had many changes and was eulogising heroines who have inspired me so I was both nervous and busy during my stage turn. It was only when I sat with the audience that I realised there was more to come. It was a surreal moment going back on stage to receive the trophy from Srideviji. When I stepped down, my manager asked me how it felt and I told her I was thinking what next,“ she reminisces about her big moment, promising that the hard work will continue, increase ten times even.

Quiz her about her most challenging moment during the filming of Udta Punjab, in which she played a Bihari immigrant and an aspiring hockey player who is sexually abused and has drugs forced on her, and she says, “The scene where I break down in front of Shahid (Kapoor) was my toughest, not just because of the language but because I needed to portray my character's desperation. It was really disturbing.“

While many were confident she'd win, Alia herself doesn't believe in winning and losing but being rewarded for efforts. “When I was being asked who stood a chance of winning, it was difficult to come up with one name. Sonam Kapoor's performance in and as Neerja was really good and I am happy she bagged the Critics' Choice award for it. It was most deserving and her speech was very moving. I congratulated her there and texted her later. Sonam's very secure in her space and we are beyond fighting for awards,“ she says sounding very grown-up.

So when is the Udta Punjab team getting together to celebrate Shahid (Critics' Choice Best Actor), Dilijit Dosanjh (Best Male Debut), Payal Saluja (Best Costume) and her win and she says, “For Shahid and me its yet to sink in. But Vikas (producer Vikas Bahl) and his team might plan a party soon,“ she smiles.

Alia's next release is Badrinath Ki Dulhania with Varun Dhawan, which takes the Humpty Sharma franchise forward and unveils on March 10. She performed with Varun to the title track of the film at the award function and admits it was a last-minute act, planned on D-day itself. “This year is for Badri and it was a great way to kick it off. I loved my entry in a palkhi,“ she exults.

Later in the year, she starts shooting with Ranbir Kapoor for Ayan Mukerji's superhero adventure, Dragon. She describes it as a “voyeuristic“ film and is looking forward to all the action. “It's a big step in a new space,“ she admits.