Alia-Parineeti - frenemies? 

Monojit Lahiri attempts a close-up on Alia Bhatt and Parineeti Chopra’s career graphs as the two actresses gear up for their upcoming releases Kalank and Kesari

Photo Courtesy: Social Media
Photo Courtesy: Social Media

Monojit Lahiri

As Kesari and Kalank get ready to hit the silver screen, it’s a great time to zero-in on two of the brightest stars in the Bollywood firmament. Alia Bhatt. Parineeti Chopra. One, daughter of the [once] irrepressible motor-mouth, quote-guru, agent-provocateur and director of hard-hitting, cathartic films, who transitioned to material that sexed-up with market forces – Mahesh Bhatt.

The other, a darling cousin sis of a Beauty Queen from Bareilly who sashayed her way to the big time, at home and abroad, demonstrating skills that embraced talent, hard work, patience, networking & relentless ambition that prompted her to never take her eyes off the ball – Priyanka Chopra.

First up is Pari. Her debut film Ishaqzade immediately served notice that this newbie from the Yash Raj camp was a natural. Despite not being a looker – in the conventional Bollywood sense of the word – the young actress impressed discerning viewers with her spontaneity and vivaciousness taking ownership of every role she played. Hits or flops, Pari was tops, earning accolades from peers and critics alike.

Alia, for her turn, didn’t turn out to be the brightest of students on her K-Jo sponsored Student of The Year debut flash. With time however, the young lass grew in confidence and soon gave the distinct impression that she was dead keen to be challenged. That she was willing and ready to break away from her cutie-pie song-dance-romance template & embrace more serious & complex territory. An admirer of her [rival?] contemporary Pari, Alia was reported to have once enquired of her how she managed to so convincingly cry on-screen, something [she admitted] she couldn’t nail.

If Pari felt even an inkling of superiority hearing this, today is a great time for her to howl because Alia Bhatt has taken an incredible quantum leap that is both magical and mesmerising, leaving Pari way behind. Successfully breaking away – or juggling? – from her cutie-pie stuff to boldly attempt hard-hitting performance-driven, de-glam roles – Highway, Udta Punjab, Raazi – the Bhatt babe has clearly indicated that along with a star, she is desperate to be counted as an actor. With her latest role in Gully Boy as Safina [the feisty girl friend of Ranveer] she has hit the ground running one more time to be the new darling of both the classes and the masses.

Pari unfortunately has been unlucky with both her films and roles. After Ishaqzade and Ladies vs Ricky Behl, her subsequent releases – Hasee To Phasee, Shudh Desi Romance, Dawate-e-Ishq, Kill Dill – flattered to deceive. Paranoid about her weight and [wrongly] believing that a toned-down version would offer her more brand equity and variety [maybe even of the glamorous kind] she took a year off to knock off several kilos & return, first with an item number with Varun Dhawan and later as lead in Meri Pyari Bindu.

Alia Bhatt’s very presence [next up in Kalank] lights up the screen every time she appears, prompting the big brands to associate with her with full-on, making Alia Generation Y’s Brightest Star, also everybody’s most endearing Sweetheart

Tragically, no one fainted at her Pari-ki-Jawani effort and neither did most find anything pyari in her come-back release. Her subsequent Golmaal flash was part of an ensemble cast in a madcap movie … so basically, right now, the poor girl is struggling. Her latest release Kesari [predictably patriotic with the khiladi, going all cylinders firing] is hardly a worthwhile vehicle to close-up on her acting skills and subsequent releases Sandeep aur Pinky faraar [with Arjun Kapoor] & Jabariya Jodi [with Sid Malhotra] hardly appear to be anything out of the box. Pari’s talent hasn’t disappeared. It’s just that she hasn’t been able to intelligently showcase her acting prowess and connect with audiences in an engaging manner that vows them.

Alia has been doing exactly that, all along! Be it Haumpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Kapoor and Sons, Highway, Udta Punjab, Dear Zindagi, Shandaar, Raazi or Gully Boy, she’s been consistently pushing the envelope all the way. Her superb range won over critics & audiences alike, as also her affable charms, disarming modesty and of course, her sporting spirit. She may not have known who the President of India was – ref KJo’s famous episode – but instead of getting hyper about the jibes or sulking, she turned this negative publicity into positive by simply demonstrating her willingness to laugh at herself in the AIB Video, Genius of the year, mocking her low IQ! Forever pursuing a learning curve, Alia has consciously been residing in 2 States – the Serious & the Popular – backing herself to try and constantly better her best, inspiring even a die-hard Bollywood-basher like Naseeruddin Shah to call her “a Natural”!

Unlike Pari, who lacks the looks and is locked in girl-next-door roles in romantic comedies, Alia Bhatt’s very presence [next up in Kalank] lights up the screen every time she appears, prompting the big brands to associate with her with full-on, making Alia Generation Y’s Brightest Star, also everybody’s most endearing Sweetheart!

So, everything considered, Parineeti Chopra and her Yash Raj camp need to think up fresh & innovative ways to showcase her acknowledged talents as a gifted actress because, as far as Alia Bhatt is concerned, that ship has sailed!

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