Alia Bhatt
Mohar Basu (MID-DAY; July 3, 2017)

Fresh from a well- deserved break, Alia Bhatt is ready to sink her teeth into another meaty role. The actress is currently juggling her combat training and diction classes, which are part of her preparation for Meghna Gulzar’s next, Raazi. An adaptation of Harinder Sikka’s bestselling novel Calling Sehmat, the movie will see the actress playing a Kashmiri girl who marries a Pakistani army officer and helps the Indian army with crucial information.

When we sit down to chat with her on a rainy Saturday afternoon, the actress’ excitement is palpable. “I am learning how to drive a jeep, which will be my mean machine in this film,” she says. The actress is well-aware that this role will be a challenging one. “It’s based on a true story and it’s important to get the layers of the character right. I’ve been reading and re-reading the script for more than a month to absorb every bit of what the story holds. Meghna and I often sit and understand the character’s psyche, which will hopefully enrich my performance.”

Raazi marks her first collaboration with Meghna and Alia is all praise for the director. “She has such clarity on how she wants things; her eye for detail is amazing. She is running the show single handedly and is doing a great job. Her passion is infectious.”

The actress, who has collaborated with several A- listers, including Shah Rukh Khan, Shahid Kapoor and Sidharth Malhotra, will share screen space with indie film darling Vicky Kaushal in the thriller. “I find it ridiculous when people subject actors to a caste system. We are all here to act and the better the actor, the better the film will turn out. Vicky is fantastic. He might not have done many films, but I was sold when I saw him in Masaan (2015). He is a better actor than me,” she says simply.

Point out that Kaushal will play second fiddle to the actress in this woman-centric film, and she says, “I don’t need superstars to lean on. I need good scripts and co-stars who bring out the best in me. Cinema can’t be categorised into off-beat and mainstream. A masala flick or a niche film, at the end of the day, is just content for people. What is good, will always work as long as it’s made within the budget.”

The actress’ previous outings, including Highway (2014) and Udta Punjab (2016), have helped her showcase her acting prowess instead of merely putting on a glamorous front. Is the selection a calculated one? “My choices aren’t like chess moves. I do films for myself. I enjoy everything that appeals to my instinct. I want to be both sides of the coin, and effortlessly play everything that catches my attention.”