In the Capital to promote her second venture on the silver screen, “Highway” directed by Imtiaz Ali, Alia Bhatt says the film has been an experience of a lifetime.
From the posh and protected flanks of Juhu to the “Highway”’, quite literally, shooting on the roads across six States: how has the transition and the experience been for you?
“Highway” was shot on the go, on the roads and it was really not an easy film to shoot. I had a lot of apprehensions but interestingly that was actually the requirement of the film as well as my character. I would actually display whatever apprehensions I had because that was literally what Imtiaz wanted. We needed to show that kind of change in the character, to show how she changes from this protected city girl into a girl she never thought she could be, discovering things she never knew she had inside her.
What would you say has been the most exciting and memorable aspect of this experience?
What I find most exciting about a journey or a road trip is not to know what to expect at the next turn. For me, this film was made in the same spirit: we would reach locations and just for the heck of it, just because the location was beautiful or looked interesting, we would make up a scene and shoot it on the spot. A lot of the film is inspired by the locations and by the constant movement.
Imtiaz has said that the experience of making this film changed everyone involved in some way. Is there anything you will take back from it too, at a personal level?
You know, like I said “Highway” wasn’t an easy film to shoot. It was physically and mentally exhausting, but through that experience I felt as though I found this whole new person that existed inside me. I tapped into an area that I never thought I had in there and that made me a lot stronger as a person. I felt that my tolerance level for pain, physical or emotional, rose higher and honestly it has been one of those journeys after which your perspective towards life sort of changes in many ways.
Any one interesting and memorable observation you made during the journey?
I think the most interesting thing that I noticed through the entire shoot schedule was that wherever we went, I would see only women working while the men sat smoking and watching. We would shoot in these really remote locations where people many times didn’t even understand what was happening. And watching them carrying on with their ordinary daily lives I would see women carrying heavy loads, women climbing up the mountain like they’re walking on flat ground…strong women, women of tough character.
After “Student of the Year”, your avatar in “Highway” makes for quite a radical change. What kind of feedback have you been getting?
The reaction I’m getting, to be honest, is primarily one of surprise. People watch the rushes and say, oh we didn’t know you could do that! It actually helps when people expect nothing out of you and then see something that surprises them, because for me that’s automatically one-fourth of the battle won. People are also liking the zero make-up look after the glamour in “Student of the Year”.