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In Calcutta on Monday, Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt won over the city with style and swag

She had been learning Bangla for two days but when it came to the crucial moment of speaking it on stage, Alia Bhatt forgot her lines

Priyanka Roy  Published 26.07.23, 11:48 AM
Ranveer and Alia with Tota Roy Choudhury and Churni Ganguly

Ranveer and Alia with Tota Roy Choudhury and Churni Ganguly Pabitra Das

She had been learning Bangla for two days but when it came to the crucial moment of speaking it on stage, Alia Bhatt forgot her lines! “Wait, wait... I have it. I know it! Just give me a moment,” said a self-serious Alia even as everyone around her and those in front of the stage pitched in to complete her sentence. “So cute yaar, tu homework karke aayi thi lekin exam ke time pe bhul gayi,” pitched in Ranveer from the side. Just when it seemed she was about to give up, Alia sprung a surprise, perfectly blurting out some near-chaste Bangla.

The ability to spring a surprise, always more pleasant than not, has been the defining note of Alia’s career. Very few expected the glam doll of her debut film Student of the Year, that released 12 years ago, to plunge seamlessly into a part — that of Veera in Imtiaz Ali’s Highway — that would require her to pull out an entire arsenal of emotions as an actor. Since then, Alia has impressed with almost every outing, shouldering a film like Gangubai Kathiawadi and even emerging as the best thing about unwatchable fare like Shaandaar.


This Friday, Alia returns to ‘home turf’, with life taking a full circle. She will be directed by her Student of the Year director and all-round mentor Karan Johar in his new film Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani. Playing Rocky to her Rani is Alia’s Gully boy co-star and offscreen BFF Ranveer Singh. The two were in Calcutta on Monday afternoon to not only promote their new biggie but also release Dhindora baje re, the Durga Puja-themed song from the film which stars Alia as a Bengali. Accompanying Rocky and Rani on stage at JW Marriott Kolkata were Alia’s onscreen parents — local talents Tota Roy Choudhury and Churni Ganguly, whom the actress introduced as her “Ma” and “Baba” respectively.


“Loving each others’ families is the main theme of Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani and Dhindora baje re is a song of celebration, a song during Durga Puja which is being celebrated by my family in the film, and the song also includes Ranveer’s Rocky because our characters have switched over and are family with the others’ family,” said Alia by way of introduction of Dhindora baje re. In keeping with the predominantly red hues of the song, the venue was done up in red, with Alia too turning up in a colour-blocked red-and-pink sari to add vibrancy to the occasion.

And when we mention ‘vibrancy’, there has to be Ranveer Singh in the vicinity. The flamboyant actor, sporting massive sunglasses and a buttoned-down shirt, was his usual cool and carefree self. In fact, those on stage, more than once alluded to Ranveer being a ball of energy both on set and off it.

“We practised Dhindora baje re for a whole month with Vaibhavi ma’am (Vaibhavi Merchant, choreographer). The dance here has very intricate movements and Ranveer and I had to dance as if we are do jism ek jaan. But with Ranveer, my chief worry was to match up to his incredible energy. I had to be very careful to ensure that I don’t miss out on a single beat or movement,” said Alia.

For Ranveer, the song represents rebellion. “Bagaawat has been a big theme in Hindi cinema and I truly love the whole rebels in love vibe that Dhindora baje re has,” said the actor.


Ranveer described Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani as “a typical Karan Johar extravaganza”, while Tota, spiffy in a dhoti-kurta ensemble, said that the film was the “best cinematic experience” of his career so far.

When asked what it was like to be a ‘Karan Johar hero’ for the first time, Ranveer said: “Karan has said that I am a leading man in his films who is different from the ones he has had. So I am glad I have the distinction of taking forward his cinema and adding a little bit of who I am to the texture,” said Ranveer.

In fact, Ranveer worked quite a bit in ‘manifesting’ Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani for himself. “Before getting into acting, I had a bunch of pictures of film-makers on the wall of my room and Karan Johar was one of them. And today, I am the leading man in a Karan Johar film... wow! Even now it feels a bit surreal,” he added.


Ranveer said that he and Alia “had both evolved as people” since they starred together in Gully Boy four years ago. “I met a beautiful version of Alia during Gully Boy and an even more beautiful version now. She is very, very dear to me as a friend and it is an honour and privilege to act with her because, in my estimation, she is one of the greatest performers that we have had in Indian cinema. We all saw what she did in Gangubai Kathiawadi and she is just getting started. She elevates my own work and I can’t emphasise that enough,” were Ranveer’s words of effusive praise for his co-star and friend.

“We are both in complete sync, we are creatively always on the same page. He even completes my sentences!” said Alia about Ranveer.


Ranveer described Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani as Karan Johar’s “most humorous film”, while Tota and Churni spoke about the experience of working with stalwarts like Dharmendra, Shabana Azmi and Jaya Bachchan in the Friday film. Tota recalled how he chanced upon Shabana Azmi — who plays a Bengali in the film — practising Rabindrasangeet one day after the shoot, while Churni spoke about how the veteran actress “looked after her”. “She even got me smoothies,” smiled Churni, who added that having Jaya Bachchan on set meant quite a bit of Bangla was spoken while Dharmendra complimented her on her “charming personality.”

Priyanka Roy Pictures: Pabitra Das

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