Alia Bhatt (born 15 March 1993) is an Indian-born British actress and singer who works in Hindi-language films. Her accolades include four Filmfare Awards. She has appeared in Forbes India’s Celebrity 100 list since 2014 and was featured by Forbes Asia in their 30 Under 30 list of 2017.
Born into the Bhatt family, she is the daughter of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and actress Soni Razdan. After making her acting debut as a child in the 1999 thriller Sangharsh, she played her first leading role in Karan Johar’s teen drama Student of the Year (2012). She went on to establish herself with starring roles in several films produced by Johar’s studio Dharma Productions, including the romances 2 States (2014), Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (2014), and Badrinath Ki Dulhania (2017); and the coming-of-age drama Dear Zindagi (2016). Bhatt won the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress for playing a kidnapping victim in the road drama Highway (2014), and three Best Actress awards at the ceremony for playing a Bihari migrant in the crime drama Udta Punjab (2016), an undercover spy in the thriller Raazi (2018), and the volatile girlfriend of an aspiring rapper in the musical drama Gully Boy (2019).
Additional to acting in films, Bhatt has launched her own line of clothing and handbags as well as the production company Eternal Sunshine, and is the founder of the ecological initiative CoExist. She has sung six of her film songs, including the single “Samjhawan Unplugged” in 2014.
Early Life and Career
Alia Bhatt was born on 15 March 1993 in Bombay (present-day Mumbai) into the Bhatt family to Indian film director Mahesh Bhatt and actress Soni Razdan. Her father is of Gujarati descent and her mother is of Kashmiri Pandit and German ancestry. She holds British citizenship. She has an elder sister, Shaheen, and two half-siblings, Pooja and Rahul Bhatt. Actor Emraan Hashmi and director Mohit Suri are her paternal cousins, while producer Mukesh Bhatt is her uncle. Bhatt was educated at the Jamnabai Narsee School.
Describing her childhood, Bhatt has said, “I had a rather grounded and modest upbringing. I didn’t get the pleasures that people assume I would’ve got because I am Mahesh Bhatt’s daughter.” Growing up, she did not share a close bond with her father; Razdan has said that she raised her children mostly as a single parent as her husband did not take much interest in their lives. Bhatt aspired to be an actress from a young age, and has said that she first realised it while rehearsing for the school choir in kindergarten. She soon began dance lessons at Shiamak Davar’s institute. Her first acting role was at age five in her father’s production venture Sangharsh (1999), in which she briefly played the younger version of Preity Zinta’s character. Talking about her experience, Bhatt later said, “I don’t remember much of the shoot. I would go to the sets only for the food”.
Bhatt had her first leading role in 2012 with Karan Johar’s teen film Student of the Year, alongside Sidharth Malhotra and Varun Dhawan. She auditioned alongside 500 girls and was cast after losing 16 kg. She played a sophisticated teenage girl involved in a love triangle. Anupama Chopra of Hindustan Times mentioned similarities between her character Shanaya Singhania and Kareena Kapoor’s Pooja “Poo” Sharma in Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… (2001), but noted that her performance was “without the killer attitude”. Lisa Tsering of The Hollywood Reporter dismissed her as “a washout. Not only is she inelegant in the dance numbers, but her expressions are limited; and the digital retouching of her face throughout the film is a distraction”. Student of the Year grossed ₹960 million (US$13 million) at the box office, becoming a commercial success
Dismayed by the critical response to Student of the Year, Bhatt was keen to play a better role. Following a year-long absence from the screen, similar to that of co-stars Malhotra and Dhawan, she found an opportunity with Imtiaz Ali’s road film Highway (2014), in which she starred as a lonely teenage girl who develops stockholm syndrome after being abducted. She took diction lessons to improve her Hindi, and was challenged by the emotional and physical requirements of the part. Ali shot the film sequentially and several scenes were improvised on set based on Bhatt’s reactions. She has said that several aspects of her character’s journey mirrored her own, as it was the first time she experienced situations that were different from her own privileged upbringing. Ronnie Scheib of Variety took note of her “endearingly cockeyed perf” and commended her for “bringing an underlying sadness and wistful intelligence” to her part. The film underperformed at the box office, but Bhatt won the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress and also gained a Best Actress nomination at the ceremony. She also appeared in Vikas Bahl’s short film on women’s safety, entitled Going Home.
Continuing her collaboration with Johar’s company, Dharma Productions, Bhatt starred in the romantic films 2 States, fellow-produced by Highway producer Sajid Nadiadwala, and Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (both 2014). The former was an adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s novel of the same name, and revolves about two management students who have trouble convincing their parents of their relationship. For her role as a headstrong Tamil girl, she learnt to speak her lines in the language with help from a tutor. Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express was appreciative of Bhatt, labelling her a “surprise” and “easy and fresh and natural”. She played a Punjabi girl who has an affair before her wedding in Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, which marked the debut of writer-director Shashank Khaitan in a distinct first for the studio. Starring Dhawan in the titular role of a flirtatious Punjabi boy Rakesh, the film was described as a tribute to Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) by Johar, and also marked the debut of television actor Siddharth Shukla. Writing for India Today, Rohit Khilnani thought that Bhatt had pitched in “one of her best performances so far”, though Nandini Ramnath of Mint found her lacking in subtlety, writing that she was “more comfortable acting out her feelings through dialogue and actions”. Both films were commercially successful, each earning over ₹1 billion (US$13 million) worldwide. Accomplishments through 2014 established Bhatt as a successful actress in Bollywood.
Bhatt reunited with Bahl for the romantic comedy Shaandaar. Released in 2015, the film features Shahid Kapoor and Bhatt as insomniacs who fall in love during a destination wedding. Kunal Guha of Mumbai Mirror criticised the film and wrote that Bhatt “socks life into her character but fails to pump any into this film”. Shaandaar did not perform well commercially. She began 2016 with a supporting role in the ensemble drama Kapoor & Sons, which was a critical and commercial success.
Bhatt next took on the part of a poor Bihari migrant in Udta Punjab (2016), a crime drama about substance abuse from writer-director Abhishek Chaubey. The intense role marked a departure from the mostly light-hearted parts she had played before in her career with the exception of Highway, and in preparation, she watched documentaries on drug abuse and learned to speak a Bihari dialect. The film generated controversy when the Central Board of Film Certification deemed that it represented Punjab in a negative light and demanded extensive censorship before its release. The Bombay High Court later cleared the film for exhibition with one scene cut. Bhatt’s performance was critically acclaimed. Raja Sen of Rediff.com wrote that she “commits to her accent and deals with the film’s most unsavoury section, and is stunning during an incendiary speech that elevates the entire film to a whole other level.” Bhatt next played a troubled young woman who consults with a therapist (played by Shah Rukh Khan) in Gauri Shinde’s coming-of-age film Dear Zindagi (2016). Writing for IndieWire, Anisha Jhaveri commended her for providing millennial angst with “a three-dimensionality”. Udta Punjab and Dear Zindagi gained Bhatt awards attention; for the former, she won the Screen Award and the Filmfare Award for Best Actress, and for the latter, she received an additional Best Actress nomination at Filmfare.
Bhatt launched her own production company named Eternal Sunshine Productions in early 2019, with a newfound aim on fresh, relatable and non-conformist stories. Her first appearance in the year came with a pivotal role opposite Ranveer Singh in Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy, a musical inspired by the life of the street rappers Divine and Naezy. She attended acting workshops to learn a ghetto dialect to enable her to improvise on set. The film premiered at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival. Writing for Screen International, Lee Marshall opined that “it’s Bhatt’s sharp performance that carries most successfully the mix of wry humour, romance and social comment that Gully Boy essays”. With global earnings of over ₹2.37 billion (US$31 million), the film emerged as Bhatt’s highest-grossing release. Gully Boy won a record 13 Filmfare Awards, and Bhatt was awarded with her career’s third Best Actress trophy. The ensemble period drama Kalank marked Bhatt’s biggest-budget film to that point. Set in the 1940s prior to the partition of India, it featured Dhawan and her as star-crossed lovers, alongside a cast comprising Madhuri Dixit, Sonakshi Sinha, Dear Zindagi guest-costar Aditya Roy Kapur and Sanjay Dutt. She watched the films Mughal-e-Azam (1960) and Umrao Jaan (1981) to learn the body language of women from the era; to better her Urdu-speaking skills, she watched the Pakistani television series Zindagi Gulzar Hai. Shubhra Gupta bemoaned that she was “watchable, if increasingly, exasperatingly familiar”. The film did not perform well at the box office.
Bhatt next starred in Sadak 2 (2020), a sequel to her father’s crime film Sadak (1991), which due to the COVID-19 pandemic could not be released theatrically and instead streamed on Disney+ Hotstar, starring Dutt and Kapur alongside her. The death of Sushant Singh Rajput sparked a debate on nepotism in the Hindi film industry; his fans blamed Bhatt for being one of the beneficiaries of nepotism and for once speaking dismissively of Rajput on Johar’s chat show Koffee with Karan. This led to vote brigading on the film’s trailer on YouTube, on which it became the second most-disliked video. The film received negative reviews, and Pallabi Dey Purkayastha of The Times of India dismissed Bhatt’s performance “by her own high standards” to be “strictly average”.
Bhatt’s projects include a starring role opposite Ranbir Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Mouni Royin Ayan Mukerji’s fantasy film trilogy, the first of which is named Brahmāstra. She will then appear alongside N.T. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan in the Telugu-language period film RRR, and will portray the titular gangster and madam of a Kamathipura brothel in Gangubai Kathiawadi, a biographical film directed, produced, written and composed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Bhatt has also committed to feature alongside an ensemble cast in Takht, a historical drama directed by Johar. Alia will appear opposite Ranveer Singh in Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani directed by Karan Johar. This will be the second collaboration with Ranveer after Gully Boy. She is also slated to make her production debut with Darlings, which will mark the directorial debut of screenwriter Jasmeet K. Reen and will mark her reunion with Dear Zindagi producer Gauri Khan, while starring her in the lead alongside Shefali Shah.
In 2018 Alia Bhatt started dating co-star “Ranbir Kapoor“. But Alia Bhatt is not currently married.
Alia Bhatt’s net worth as of 2022 is estimated at around $25 million – $40 million (net worth estimated in 2022).