* Bollywood actor, in Qatar to attend DJWE 2022, speaks to Gulf Times in an exclusive conversation about her taste in jewellery, visiting the country and her career after 'Gangubai'

In a lounge at Doha Jewellery & Watches Exhibition (DJWE), the pink marabou trim on a stiletto is fluttering expectantly in the breeze of waiting for a superstar to settle in, as a phalanx of assistants move silently about a fabulous, temporary, sparkling grotto of couture jewellery piece. There’s something about her that is keeping hundreds of people outside waiting in anticipation of her look.
Naturally, 10 minutes comes and goes, but eventually, at an uncertain point in superstar time, the door finally opens and I’m asked to come in. There is an art to being Alia Bhatt, which is to say that rising to Bollywood’s one of the most sought-after actors of this time is not a status achieved by just bungling your exit from a limo. Dressed in a long white cape, matching stilletos, a statement jewellery piece and a nicely done ponytail — it is a curious experience to encounter a star giving you her most quintessential vibe, and Alia has not disappointed.

Qatar Tourism Chairman and Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker with Alia Bhatt at the opening of DJWE 2022

Already, photographs taken moments ago of her short walk from her car into the exhibition are pinging around the country. “Let’s do this!” she says by way of hello.
Growing up as the daughter of veteran Bollywood director and producer Mahesh Bhatt, Alia had a vantage point on fame and cinema that few do. She knows that as she walks out the cameras will accost her however it doesn’t really bother her as she starts to chat animatedly about her visit to Qatar, being a part of DJWE and what jewellery appeals to her.
When I compliment Alia, she thanks me and instantly asks me, "really, ok?". She has a tendency towards deadpan humour, often delivered with a laconic stare that can make it difficult to figure out whether she is joking or not.

“Being here and being a part of this prestigious event, which is so massive and glamorous and the kind of effort everyone has put in to make it happen, is a huge honour for me. We’ve been actually waiting for it to happen a couple of years ago but thanks to the pandemic, but also they say all good things take time. So, the fact that it is finally happening, I’m really happy. It is lovely to be back here and it feels very much like home,” says Alia.
As Qatar has been successfully placing itself on the cultural map of the world, the country has become a destination for many celebrities and travellers worldwide to explore. Alia talks about the warm Qatari hospitality. “Qatar feels like home, and not just because of the warmth of the people but also the simplicity along with the opulence. It is a nice mixture of taste and culture and it all blends in very effortlessly. When you enter the airport, it itself takes your breath away. And I think it has got a lot of character and personality. When you go away from your home, you need to feel as comfortable otherwise you rather stay at home. Which is why the mixture of the beauty and the culture is a winning game for me.”
Alia’s still as beautiful and cheeky as she was when she made her acting debut with 'Student of the Year' in 2012. Who knew the sassy Shanaya from 'SOTY' would one day become the ‘It’ actor in an industry that’s hard to make a name in, even if you’re a star kid.
Turning out as the charming Shanaya, Alia Bhatt has come a long way. Over her decade-long career, she has not only proven herself to be a fearless master of reinvention, but has also bridged the world’s of art cinema and storytelling with her latest stint in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s 'Gangubai Kathiawadi' (2022). “Human beings tend to change and evolve. Definitely, I’m not the same person I was ten years ago. But, in many ways I am. I am still that kind of young actor with lots of ambition and excitement and stars in my eyes,” Alia adds, “I’ve sort of learnt to recognise that it is a part of my life and I enjoy my off time as well, which is very little. But the time of just being me, just having that sort of personal quite time to myself. So I’ve definitely in many ways grown up a lot and I have grown up in the public eye now.”
              'Earrings from
       Ranbir's grandmother'

People in South Asia consider jewellery as heirloom pieces. Is there a specific piece that has been passed on to the actor over the generation? Alia Bhatt responds, “My mom (Soni Razdan) has given me a ring of hers and my mother-in-law (Neetu Kapoor) has given me Ranbir’s grandmother’s earrings. So yes.”

Alia’s latest, 'Gangubai', charted to become the number one non-English film on Netflix globally. The film has been watched for 13.81mn hours and featured in the Top 10 among films in 25 countries across the world. Sometimes a single performance sets the standards and all subsequent performances pale in comparison no matter how hard one tries. Asked if she’ll be able to outdo 'Gangubai', Alia says, “Well, I don’t think I ever plan my characters in a way to outdo other characters. It’s not calculated but I think that’s why best things in life happens when you least expect them. And that’s what happened with 'Gangubai' as well. My motto is to just get up and go to work, give my 100% every day and see what comes out of it.
"Whether I’d be able to top it up or not, I don’t know. We’ll see. Life’s too short.”
DJWE has an extensive display of classic and contemporary luxury collections by internationally recognised brands and designers as well as local designers, with diamonds and emeralds taking the centre stage. Diamonds, they say, are a girl's best friend. Asked what sort of jewellery appeals to the actor, she says: “I’m very traditional and classic in my taste. Even in jewellery, the simplicity is what I enjoy the most. In my opinion, the jewellery that stands the test of time is the jewellery one should invest in and also go for. And that is naturally my taste, something that my grandmother can pass on to me and it would be relevant even today and I would like to do the same thing many many years from now.”
Alia recently tied the knot with actor Ranbir Kapoor and made a statement with her bridal look, wearing Sabyasachi Heritage Jewellery featuring uncut diamonds and hand-strung pearls.
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