Fresh off her marriage to fellow Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor, British-Indian actress Alia Bhatt has cemented her status as one of India’s most elite celebrities. The 29-year-old actress made her acting debut in 1999 with the movie Sangharshwhich is based on the American movie Silence of the Lambs. She was five years old when she took on that role. Bhatt was born into a family known for their acting, directing, and writing prowess in Hindi cinema, also known as Bollywood. Although she was born in London, England, she was raised and educated in India.
Her first leading role came with the romantic comedy Student of the Year, one of the highest-grossing Bollywood movies in 2012, but the movie was poorly reviewed among critics. After that, Bhatt took the necessary steps to become a better actress and has been seen in a wide array of romantic comedies, dramas, and lighthearted films. Her hard work paid off – she is now one of India’s most influential celebrities and one of the highest-paid actresses active in the country. From Raazi to Gully Boy, these are her best movies.
7 Dear Zindagi
Dear Zindagi stars Alia Bhatt and Shah Rukh Khan in a classic coming-of-age story. Bhatt portrays Kaira, a talented cinematographer stuck watching as her ex-boyfriend becomes engaged to someone else. Her life seems to spiral after this, as she is unhappy with her career and living situation, so she decides it is time to find a psychologist (Khan). Khan and Bhatt are both excellent in their respective roles, making Dear Zindagi quite enjoyable in the execution of chemistry and character. With a simple but nuanced story, there is much to admire in this movie.
Released in 2014, Highway is a road drama based on a television series. The daughter (Bhatt) of a Delhi business tycoon is kidnapped one day before her wedding. Despite the consequences of kidnapping such an influential person’s daughter, one of her captors (Randeep Hooda) is determined to succeed. However, in a surprise twist, she wanted to be kidnapped to escape from the life she was living before. Highway is simple in its premise and approach, making it a road film at its essence while also providing glimpses into humanity even in ugly situations.
5 Udta Punjab
Udta Punjab provided Alia Bhatt a role that she would receive acclaim for, kick-starting her career to a new level. Set in Punjab, near the border of Pakistan and India, it was inspired by the real-life issues of drug usage within Punjab, and thus the film was subject to strict censorship by the Censor Board. Udta Punjab‘s protagonist is a local musician addicted to cocaine. His music often deals with the topic of drug use and violence, and after a brief stint in jail, he decides to change his ways, even if it costs him his career. Bhatt portrays Bauria as a migrant worker and laborer that unfortunately gets caught in a sex and drug trafficking ring.
A Telugu-language film, the much-hyped RRR became one of the highest-grossing films of 2022 globally. The movie is set in the early 1920s when India still is a colonial power under the British and dramatizes the lives of two Indian revolutionaries: Komaram Bheem and Alluri Sitarama Raju. RRR speculates on an alternate history in which these two historical figures met, specifically in the period when they were not politically active and waging war against their colonizers. In real life, the two never met. RRR is a testament to good filmmaking, as it mixes action, drama, and history in a brilliantly entertaining manner.
Alia Bhatt truly shines in 2018’s Raazi. The movie is set immediately before the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, a conflict sparked by the Bangladeshi liberation movement. Bhatt portrays Sehmat, the daughter of a spy for the Indian government. One of her father’s final wishes is that she, too, becomes an informant for the government, so she is married to a Pakistani military officer, effectively uprooting her life in India to move to Pakistan. There, her mission begins, but as suspicion and tension begin to rise, there are heartbreaking consequences for her actions.
2 Gangubai Kathiawadi
The 2022 crime drama Gangubai Kathiawadi is based on a true story. Once, on the streets of Mumbai, a woman named Gangubai Kathiawadi was sold by her husband to a brothel. After she began to be exploited by men, she turned to a mafia of Mumbai to ensure her own safety, thus determining her own rise to power, and she would eventually become an advocate for sex workers and a brothel owner herself. Bhatt stars as Kathiawadi in the movie and has received extensive praise for her portrayal.
1 Gully Boy
In the slums of Mumbai, it does not seem like dreams can come true easily. But in Gully Boy, one boy named Murad (Ranveer Singh) aspires to become a rapper. He is Muslim, making the odds against him even higher. Gully Boy tracks his emotional journey into becoming someone who is actively heard and admired, despite the political and socioeconomic difficulties it takes to be seen. Bhatt is Safeena, Murad’s girlfriend who does not like it when he hangs out with other women. With its raw hip-hop numbers and a tight script, Gully Boy was the best Bollywood movie released in 2019.
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