MUMBAI: Mahesh Bhatt’s youngest born is going places. Alia Bhatt has not only bagged the next Imtiaz Ali film ‘Highway’ she would also play the lead in debutant director Abhishek Varman’s screen adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s novel ‘2 States’.
Getting to play the South Indian Tamilian Brahmin Ananya Swaminathan in ‘2 States’ was not a cakewalk for Alia. Apparently the author Chetan Bhagat was skeptical about a Mumbai-born girl of non-South Indian antecedents pulling off a Tamil wife’s role.
It took a photo-session where Alia was dressed as her Tamilian character to convince the skeptics that she could indeed pull off the part convincingly.
It was Karan Johar who co-produces ‘2 States’ along with Sajid Nadiadwala,who convinced Chetan Bhagat and Sajid Nadiadwala that Alia would fit the bill.
Says a source, “Chetan and Sajid were convinced from the outset that they’d cast a Punjabi actor and a South Indian actress to retain full authenticity in the plot. The original plan was to cast Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone. But when Arjun Kapoor stepped into the picture Deepika couldn’t be seen looking compatible with Arjun.”
That’s when Karan who is god-fathering Alia with parental pride, suggested Alia’s name. The suggestion was apparently turned down by the book’s author and producer until Karan decided to let a picture speak a thousand words.
Last week Alia posed in character. And bowled the entire ‘2 States’ team over.
Says a source close to the team, “Alia shocked everyone by her transformation from a Mumbai girl to the character Ananya. Everyone agreed she wouldn’t allow audiences to miss the presence of a real Tamil actress. But it’s an uphill task for Alia. She will have to undertake a lot of training.”
Alia’s preparation to play the Tamil girl in ‘2 States’ begins now. “She will have to work on her accent. Being not that fluent in Hindi would be an advantage for Alia to get comfortable with Ananya Swaminathan’s accent. South Indians are not known to be fluent in Hindi in the first place. Also, the Tamil accent is not going to be thick. This isn’t a film about a stereotypical Punjabi-Tamil liaison like K Balachander’s ‘Ek Duuje Ke Liye’,” a source says, and adds that Alia would have to work much harder than Arjun Kapoor.
“Arjun is actually in character already since he’s a Punjabi with a background similar to what’s described in the novel. Alia has to work from scratch,” says the source.
We hear the writer-director Abhishek Varman and producer Sajid Nadiadwala have hired a Tamil coach for Alia and have briefed her to watch a lots of Sridevi starrers in Tamil and Hindi.
Time for some Tamil-Vamil for Alia, kya?