Student Of The Year: Playing an airheaded doll who is wooed by two Karan Johar type hunks, Alia did something to her character Shanaya that no one else (except maybe Kareena Kapoor Khan) could. She made the floozy appear empathetic, almost compassionate. Nope, it is not a crime to be a frivolous fashionista as long as you don’t lose your core of humanism. That’s what Alia did in her adult debut (she had played junior PreityZinta in Tanuja Chandra’s Sungharsh). She made Shanaya lovable and we didn’t even know when we stopped judging her her clothes and bags.
Highway: In this deeply flawed film about a rich heiress falling in love with her kidnapper, Alia imbued her completely illogical character with a sense of gratifying credibility. Though it was hard to believe any girl could fall in love with someone as uncouth as RandeepHooda, the gruff criminal, Alia’s innocence and candour shone through. Her outburst in her sleek upper class home against her childhood abuser at the end was totally out of context. But what the heck! Alia can show that clipping to her grandchildren to let them know what a fine actor she once was. And still is. (I am sure Alia will continue acting in her 80’s).
Udta Punjab: Who would have believed that Alia could play a Dalit girl from Bihar working as a farm hand in Punjab, dreaming of becoming a hockey champ, but instead becoming a sex slave to a drug junkie. Here was Alia playing a character totally alien to her. She had never been familiar with the personality, plight and predicament of her character, Bauria. Yet, she managed to play this wretchedly unhappy girl with a fluency that comes naturally to her.
Dear Zindagi: Dearest Alia…wasn’t she simply adorable as millennial single woman Kaira, grappling with boyfriend and family problems, running for succour to the nearest shrink who happens to be none other than Shah Rukh Khan. The scenes depicting Alia’s growing fondness for her therapist crept up tenderly on us, as if no one knew it was coming. Alia let her heart speak for her. And we could almost hear it beating to the sound of Mr Khan’s bumperstricker wisdom. Alia made her ‘Lolita’ act seem denuded of naivete but still furnished it with an artless innocence. Even when Alia plays a flawed character, her spiritual core remains incorruptible.
Gully Boy: Okay, Ranveer Singh plays the titular role in Zoya Akhtar’s fine homage to Raga of wretchedness, singing, rapping, protesting his way through the streets of Mumbai. But Alia is the stealthy scenestealer. As the heartmeltingly honest Muslim girl, Safina, who loves hiphop but wants to do something more meaty with her life, she carries the hijab with a casual aplomb, making her character appear hip without hopping into flamboyant self-exhibition. She is talkative and hyper. But you constantly feel Safina is not telling us the complete truth about herself, not revealing more than she wants to. That, I guess, is what Alia Bhatt’s secret acting style is. She never gives everything about her character away. We keep hoping till the end that she would. But Alia strips her soul only to tell us we haven’t seen everything yet.