‘RRR’ Star Alia Bhatt on Why Disney Fantasy Adventure ‘Brahmāstra’ Is a ‘Brave Step Toward the Astraverse’

Alia Bhatt
Rahul Jhangiani

Alia Bhatt, the U.K.-born star of Hindi films, has had a busy year. She toplined and produced dark comedy “Darlings” on Netflix, which according to the streamer, scored the biggest opening for a non-English-language film globally. She also toplines “RRR,” which earned lots of fans in the West when it streamed on Netflix earlier this summer. She kicked off 2022 at the Berlin Film Festival with “Gangubai Kathiawadi,” based on “Mafia Queens of Mumbai,” and just finished shooting Tom Harper’s “Heart of Stone,” co-starring with Gal Gadot. On Sept. 9, Disney is releasing “Brahmāstra: Part One — Shiva” worldwide. The fantasy adventure, in which she stars opposite her husband, Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor, features an Indian cinematic universe, the Astraverse. “It’s the first of its kind; it’s a very brave, big giant step [in] that direction,” she says. “It is inspired deeply by Indian mythology and Indian culture and our scriptures and is basically the essence of India.”

How did “Heart of Stone” come about? My team sent me the script, and they said, “You know they would like for you to read the script, and if [you’re] interested we can get you to Zoom-meet with the director.” Thanks to Zoom, a lot of this has become possible. You don’t have to fly [to a meeting]. You don’t have to do an in-person meeting. You can do a virtual meeting. I read the script, and of course I heard that Gal was going to be starring in it and was also producing it, which I was extremely excited about because I am such a huge admirer of her work and just the person, the force that she is.

What draws you to a role? For me, what is most important is that if I am to come on board as an actor, I have to be 100% convinced of the part, otherwise I feel I’m doing the film more harm than good. So I said, I have to fall in love with the script first. And I get the script and it’s totally unlike anything I have done, and I can’t speak too much about the script, but I have to say that I was so thrilled because it was such a good part. It was kind of the perfect way for me to make my Hollywood debut, let’s put it that way. Then I met with Tom Harper, my director, over Zoom. We immediately hit it off, and next thing you know I was on my way to shoot the film. 

You seem to choose different kinds of films. What attracts you to a script? I think I always try and picture whether I would want to watch a film as an audience [member], and then think of myself and my position, or my role, in the script. A lot of it is just a gut feeling. Sometimes the film is just lovely, but I just don’t see myself in it. So it’s very instinctive. What I try to do is surprise myself. I like to take challenges that maybe seem a little out of reach, seem a little impossible. 

“Darlings” is your own venture, and it is directed by a woman [Jasmeet K Reen]. You produced it. Would you like to direct? I don’t have a story to tell yet. Maybe one day I’ll find a story to tell — you never know.