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The rise and rise of Alia Bhatt — Birthday special

From the dumb star kid to one of the most talented actresses of her generation, Bhatt's evolution has come through in leaps and bounds. As she turns 24 today (15 March), it is time to sit up and recognise the rise of a new superstar. 

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Shriram Iyengar

Alia Bhatt's debut could not have been more star-studded. Directed by Karan Johar in Student of the Year (2012), Bhatt was cast as the girl in the student romantic triangle. Overnight, the film launched Alia as the face of the new generation. Since her debut, Alia has metamorphosed into one of the finest actors of her generation raising the bar for her performances with each film. Highway (2014), Udta Punjab (2016), 2 States (2014), Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (2013), and Dear Zindagi (2016) are standout performances that are only the early years of a still fledgeling career. 

On the occasion of her 24th birthday, we take a look at the scenes that mark out Alia as the actress of her generation. 

2 States (2014) 

While her first film did contribute to the image of her as a 'bimbo', she revealed the extent of her intelligence with 2 States. Alia had already shown she knew to take a joke, by working with comedian group AIB, but as the mature, confident Ananya in Abhishek Varman's film, she proved her growth. It was another proof of her ability to show playfulness without appearing flippant. 

Highway (2014)

Only her second film, Highway won the actress a Filmfare Award Critics' award for Best Actress. As the young, naive abductee, Veera, Alia delivered a consummate performance. Her natural presence and ease in front of the camera led to universal praise from critics. In a layered film with a very complex character at its centre, Alia embodied composure and finesse in her performance. It was one of the standout performances of the year. 

Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (2013)

Though it might not be her best performance, it will remain her most successful role after the star debut. Cast alongside the scenery chewing energy of Varun Dhawan, Alia managed to hold her own as the independent girl capable of convincing her father about her choice of groom. It also raised Alia's image as the young adult, rather than the teen idol she was on her debut.

Udta Punjab (2016)

This is, without a doubt, Alia's finest performance so far. In a fledgeling career, Alia has acted in films for Imtiaz Ali, Karan Johar, Gauri Shinde and Abhishek Chaubey. By all marks, Alia was miscast for this role as the illiterate, hockey player from Bihar. However, the manner in which the actress took on the role and lived it on screen surprised everyone. In a standout monologue from the film, the actress poured out her soul as her character Bauriya describes to the drug-induced Tommy the presence of a life beyond the hallucination. The dark tragedy earned Alia her first Filmfare award for Best Actress. Even father Mahesh Bhatt appreciated the actress' acting talent. Deservedly so!

Dear Zindagi (2016)

Stepping into director Shinde's film, Alia had some big shoes to fill — those of Sridevi. Yet, the young actress delivered to her director's delight. Shinde decided on Alia, after watching Highway, saying "whose head is messed up by many things that are happening in her life. Heartbreak is the trigger which sends her to the therapist.” 

Cast alongside a bevy of heroes, including Shah Rukh Khan, Alia managed to hold her own. As the confused, feisty and vulnerable Kaira, she delivered another fabulous performance which earned critical and commercial acclaim. There is always respect for any actor who can hold the audience's attention on screen, while Khan rambles on charmingly. The last person to do so was Kajol. 

With her latest commercial success in Badrinath Ki Dulhania, Alia has managed to provide another proof of her commercial viability. With a prolific line of films in a fairly short career, Alia is turning out to be the actress of the future for the Hindi film industry.