Acknowledging the economic impact of the pandemic on the film industry, celebrity actress and producer Alia Bhatt told Express Adda Monday that both producers and stars are engaged in a “reassessment” of the issue of A-list salaries and whether they should be balanced against the budget of the film.
Asked if there has been a correction to the price the stars are asking, particularly in light of a post-pandemic re-rating and at a time when several Hindi films have failed at the box office, Bhatt said: “I agree it should happen. I’m not a number producer, I’m a creative producer. But I understand that while star and star values add layers, it’s the content that brings people to the theaters. For that aspect, it should make up for it because you’re not taxing the budget of the film… But then again, I’m not one to tell anyone what to charge, kyunki my toh choti hun.”
She said: “I’m generally sure that all producers feel that some reassessments (in terms of star fees) need to be made. Even stars think so. Often an actor charges a certain fee and if the film does not do well, the remaining fee is not charged. They even return the money. But we don’t do PR for that. Nobody deports anyone.”
Interaction with Anant Goenka, Executive Director, The Indian Express Group and The Indian Express film critic Shubhra Gupta, while the Express Adda, Bhatt too offered some insights as an insider of the film industry.
Commenting on several big-budget Hindi films that failed at the box office, Bhatt said, “It’s been a tough year for Indian cinema in general. We should be kinder to Hindi cinema. South movies did well, but are we counting the total number of movies that did well? … We are constantly re-evaluating general consumer behavior. At the end of the day it’s a business.”
Bhatt, one of India’s top contemporary actresses, spoke about taking criticism with ease. “I was one of those people who were subjected to random hate, especially online. At a certain point, you don’t care. It’s a free country, everyone can say what they want. So I can’t say, ‘Mere-ko bura lag raha hai. Bura lag raha hai toh dessert khao (I’m upset. If that’s the case, eat some dessert),” the 29-year-old said.
With her intimate but much-discussed marriage to actor Ranbir Kapoor in April and the announcement of her pregnancy, Bhatt has ushered in a new phase in her life. Professionally, she officially becomes a producer with the release of Darlings, a dark comedy from her production house Eternal Sunshine in association with Red Chillies Entertainment. “Honestly, I don’t remember how it happened. Maybe I got to the point where I’m directing a film and I’m like, ‘Why shouldn’t I produce it?’” she said.
Darlings, starring Shefali Shah, Vijay Varma and Roshan Mathew, will be released on Netflix on August 5th. Next, Bhatt will share the screen for the first time with Ranbir Kapoor in Ayan Mukerji’s fantasy drama Brahmastra Part One: Shiva.
Stressing the importance of good stories and compelling content, she said, “I don’t just want to tell women-centric films, I want to tell good stories… stories that mean something to the audience and leave a lasting impression on them. ”
The actress also revealed that her production house was on the lookout for good scripts, as well as talented writers and directors who “don’t know how to break in.” “My aspiration is to find interesting content and put our power behind it,” she said.
“What makes a star?” Bhatt wondered. “It’s love. There’s also a certain star who brings in the money at the box office. But that is now not possible without content, ultimately it is the power of the content that draws the audience to the cinemas. Of course, there’s a certain larger-than-life experience on the big screen that can’t be replaced. However, people should opt for good content that will stand the test of time. So the fame comes from the content you give people,” she said.
The actress, who made her debut with Karan Johar’s Student of the Year (2012), has appeared in acclaimed films such as Highway (2014), Udta Punjab (2016), Raazi (2018) and Gully Boy (2019) delivered impressive performances. .
Earlier this year she delivered a huge hit with Gangubai Kathiawadi directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Regarding this film, she said that the role of the titular protagonist was her “most challenging role,” adding that she didn’t follow any particular process.
“I knew I had to play them completely from the heart. Because we wanted her story to reach a larger audience, we also tried to make it entertaining. It’s very difficult,” she said, adding that she likes to lose herself completely in someone else’s life. “That’s the most exciting part for me as an actor.”
Bhatt will soon make her Hollywood debut in Heart of Stone opposite Jamie Dornan and Gal Gadot. “I didn’t have to do an accent or wear ethnic patchwork clothing for the project. It is necessary to see a full set of characters. Everyone wants India. Look at our number, we have so much power,” she said.
When asked if she had any acting advice based on her experience, Bhatt said, “Don’t take yourself so seriously.” Describing herself as “a small piece of the puzzle” on a movie set, she said, “Let’s say, I really don’t know how good I am. I love what I do.”
The Express Adda is a series of informal interactions organized by the Indian Express Group that are at the heart of change.
Union Minister for Foreign Affairs S. Jaishankar, Union Minister for Roads and Highways and MSME Nitin Gadkari, Election Strategist Prashant Kishor, Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs and Oil and Gas Hardeep Singh Puri and Union Minister for Health Mansukh Mandaviya among previous guests at the Adda.