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Alia Bhatt’s Transformative Performance In Gangubai Will Change The Course Of Her career



Alia Bhatt in Gangubai Kathiawadi

It is  amusing and a tad  annoying to  hear  the expert opinions of those who have not see Gangubai Kathiawadi.  Many feel Alia is too “upperclass” to play a sex worker from Kamathipura.

Many felt  the same when Sharmila Tagore was signed to play  a hardcore sex worker in Gulzar’s Mausam. Gulzar Saab was  advised  by his well-wishers  to drop the  idea of  Sharmila as a streetwalker  before  it was  too late, as Ms Tagore was  seen to be too sophisticated  for the part.

But the filmmaker stuck  to his guns. And Sharmila Tagore  won her one and only National award for best actress in Mausam.

“It wasn’t easy,” Sharmila Tagore shared with me. “To  say those abusive words . I had never heard  them, let alone  used them. But  when you have a  good director and a  supportive co-star  the atmosphere is  so relaxed that you surrender comfortably to the demands  of  the character.”

I  have a  feeling  Gangubai Kathiawadi  will  fetch Alia her first National award for  best actress. Not that she’s a stranger to outstanding  performances. She  was  in  sterling form in Imtiaz Ali’s Highway, Abhishek Choubey’s   Udta Punjab and Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy.

None  of  these compares with  what  Alia  has achieved  in Gangubai Kathiawadi.  It’s a transformative  performance where we  no longer sees the actress  but only the character. Alia’s voice, body  language  and  mannerisms are  completely  new to her. She  pulls it off with the  panache of a pro.

 As she  told me  excitedly,  “You know , I always  felt that until  one is signed  for a  Sanjay Leela Bhansali film  one has not really arrived.Would you believe I first went to audition for him when I  was 9?I  had gone to audition  for Black and he told my mother , ‘No(to Black) ,she’s  meant to be  a star’. I felt I had to prove him right  some day. And  now for us  to be collaborating  ….It’s a dream come true.”

    Recalling her  first meeting with the  Devdas director Alia said,  “When  I  walked  in to his office I felt I had to be  part  of that world. It excites me so much to just sit with him and  discuss scenes.  He is  so  passionate  about his work, it is supremely  inspiring.I  was  ready go back to Ground Zero , unlearn  everything I’ve learnt so far  about acting and start  from scratch with him.”

The end-result is  electrifying.

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