This young actor had a rough start, facing sniggering critics and cruel trolls, but look who is having the last laugh

Alia Bhatt is perhaps one of the finest actors India has ever seen, bringing out the subtle nuances of any character she plays and breathing life into what was, till then, merely an inked out character sketch. From Highway‘s Veera Tripathi and Udta Punjab’s Bauria to Gully Boy’s Safeena, she seems to make a seamless transition into the skin of the character – no matter how far removed from her world.

Bhatt has been on movie sets ever since she was five. Her first film was the 1999 thriller Sangharsh, in which was she playing the younger Reet Oberoi (played by Preity Zinta). Thirteen years later, she reappeared in Karan Johar’s Student of the Year. While the movie did well at the box-office, her role as Shanaya didn’t impress the critics, who saw her as just another pretty face and a privileged star kid who got an easy pass into the industry.  But her stellar performance in Imtiaz Ali’s Highway in 2014 made the country sit up and take notice of her undeniable talent.

Today, Bhatt is comfortable in the space she is in. It couldn’t have been easy but she makes the transformation look effortless.  The younger Bhatt has grown up watching their movies by her father’s production house. That influence is showing in the choices that she makes. “The way I pick my roles is fairly simple. If there is something in the character that I connect with and if the story makes me feel like I want to be part of that world, I just go with my instinct,” she says.

Most of us wonder what our calling is, even through our adult life, but Bhatt was sure that this is all she ever wanted to in her life. “Even as a little girl, I loved to perform. I was clear that I wanted to perform and wherever that takes me I was ready to go. Acting was just a part of that overwhelming desire to perform,” she says. “So, I won’t say I was born to be an actor. I was born to perform and be creatively out there in whatever form that interests me to entertain people.”

Despite churning out hits like clockwork, Bhatt is not taking anything for granted. “I don’t believe that success is permanent or solely mine. Yes I did work very hard to get here, but when you know something is not permanent, you don’t take it for granted,” she says. Success may be fickle but it is by Bhatt’s side for now, and is likely to remain a steady friend for a while.

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