In an industry that is flocked by star kids who have either taken a bite out of the great pie (read: stardom) or are waiting in tow to befit the dazzling world, there are those who have carved a niche for themselves and earned the much-deserved praises off their own caliber. Alia Bhatt is one such star who bedazzled us with her grand debut, Student of the Year, and then went on to make it large with her second, Highway. As much as Imitiaz Ali is responsible for the stardom Alia is frolicking in, it was as much Alia’s effort that shone and brought her to the forefront of the new ladies in B-Town. The media and the celebrities raved about how Alia surpassed her “Baby doll chic” image and emerged as the unglamorized goddess with Highway.

This 20 year-old Highway girl trotted the red carpet and soon became the most sought after newbie. Her prim and proper demeanor, her glam doll look shimmered in the limelight, yet you could hardly ignore the child-like glee that made her the talk of the town.

Alia was raw, inexperienced, if we may say so, and hence easy to be molded into a character such as Veera. Perhaps, this is why Imitiaz (Ali) thought of casting her and he was right in doing so. She let herself be. She evolved with the character and she let herself go. She became a Patakha Guddi in the real sense of the word. It was evident that Veera was one with Alia while Alia transformed into Veera. In Student of the Year, Alia was a dolled up version of Poo (Kareena Kapoor) from Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. She learnt to be poised for such a role and when to the extent of attempting to walk around in heels, a thing she had never done before. She spoke to a leading magazine about the exercise and called it challenging. But what was more taxing for her was the character of Veera for it was “physically and emotionally challenging.” It left her emotionally drained. Papa Bhatt was all praises for his Glam doll. He called Highway Alia’s Arth and was thankful to Imitiaz to make Alia “live” Veera.

Yes, the battered and bruised Veera was real and very much alive. She was a plethora of emotions and left the audience numb with her heart-wrenching tale. She was equally naïve and juvenile as much as daring and dashing. The film Highway was a character film and not just a mere road trip. It staggered us with its simplicity and plain storytelling. It was evolving, revolutionary and emotionally-appealing. It was an in-your-face story and yet truthful. It certainly helped Alia evolve as an actress. Alia believes that Highway helped her undo the fakeness out of her (as told to a leading magazine) which was very much evident in her performance.

From a crying tot in Sangharsh to a nubile chic in Highway, Alia has come a long way in a short time. Highway was Alia’s film indeed but a rare phenomenon as well ’cause rarely does a newbie actress in the Hindi film industry gets to try her luck with characters as strong as Veera. What’s worth appreciating is Alia’s tact, her understanding of the characters that she portrays and her adeptness at a very tender age like 21! With two films in the pipeline – 2 States and Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania – we find this diva going multilingual with her characters. Alia will soon be seen in Mumma Soni Razdan’s film which is based on the notorious Nanavati case. However, what Highway has done for her and what she has done for herself with Highway is nothing less than giving her an instant star status, that, without putting to use her filmy background. In the true sense of the word, it appears to us that Alia has arrived for she took the road less travelled…

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