Working with Shefali Shah was like working with myself: Alia Bhatt
"I didn’t come into the industry with the thought that I would be a producer. The idea slowly crept up on me", Alia Bhatt speaks to Subhash K Jha on working on Darlings as a producer and actor
How has your life changed after marriage?
Not changed at all. Everything is the same.
Are you looking forward to taking time off for the baby?
I don’t think my timeline matters. I will continue to be involved with my work emotionally and creatively.
Good to know. You launched your production house nearly three years ago. So, what took you so long to launch your first production Darlings?
I don’t know. Maybe I wanted to gain some experience. I was looking around for the right projects. Maybe I wanted to be taken a little more seriously as an actor before turning into an active producer. I didn’t come into the industry with the thought that one day I would be a producer. The idea slowly crept up on me. Then I found a script that I liked- Darlings. I met the director Jasmeet Reen in 2019 for the narration of Darlings. That’s when I decided to start my own production house.
What made you pick Darlings as your first production?
It was a very interesting mix of two genres, there was a lovely message and humour. It was a very interesting sort of intimate detailed world led by these real characters who invited me into their world. I wouldn’t say I picked Darlings. I’d say Darlings picked me. My first film as an actor chose me. Now my first film as a producer chose me.
When do we see you turn director?
Well, Sanjay Sir (Bhansali) sees a director in me. But right now, it’s the actor and now the producer in me that’s active. Production has opened a whole new avenue to my career. I will be producing content in which I may or may not feature as an actor.
You can’t be in every film you produce?
Of course not! In fact, when people see me produce films with other actors, they will know how serious I am as a producer.
I see Darlings as a mother-daughter film. How was it working with the great Shefali Shah?
Even I am a fan of hers. Working with Shefali was like working with myself. We are very similar in our approach to our scenes. We are very spontaneous actors. In-between shots we both like to switch off and talk about something other than the film. Neither of us is much into rehearsals. We save our energy for the final take. It was very important for the mother-daughter dynamics to work. There were moments in the script that had to be nailed. Or it wouldn’t have worked. I remembered we rehearsed separately. Finally, when we met on the sets our energies just matched.
And it shows?
Yeah, we got really lucky.
The film has a serious statement to make on domestic value. What is your take on spouse battering?
(Sighs) It really pains me. We women are so often told to bear with ridiculous situations. Thoda maar liya, bear it. Oh, you’re feeling depressed, bear it. I think it is up to a woman to choose her own happiness over what people expect from her. The idea that a failed marriage can destroy a woman’s life is so outdated. And for women like the one I play in Darlings; the idea of divorce is impossible. There is a line of dialogue by Shefali who says the world has changed on Twitter, not in reality.
What do you think makes some men think they have the right to abuse women?
Deep down, I feel there is still a lack of respect for partners in relationships, even within families. It pains me to see that a lot of women still think there is no way out of a bad marriage. With cinema one can at least create an awareness. Change is not going to happen overnight.