Alia Bhatt on “Darlings”, collaboration with Shah Rukh Khan and Gal Gadot

Bollywood A-lister Alia Bhatt is enjoying a lavish 2022.

Gangubai Kathiawadi, in which she played the central title role, had its world premiere as a Berlinale gala screening, was a box office success and was the #1 non-English film and the #1 film in 25 countries on Netflix worldwide. ‘RRR’, in which she co-stars, is one of the biggest Indian hits of the year.

And now, “Darlings,” Bhatt’s debut as a producer through her Eternal Sunshine Productions, is slated for a worldwide debut on Netflix on August 5. The film also stars Bhatt as a domestic abuse victim who decides to take matters into her own hands, a feat of treating a serious subject with a dark comedy filter without coming across as insensitive. It is directed by feature debutant Jasmeet K. Reen and written by Reen, Parveez Sheikh (“Queen”) and Vijay Maurya (“Gully Boy”).

“The moment you realize you’re walking a very fine line, it’s a very tight rope to be insensitive. We never poke fun at the subject — and anything surrounding the topic of domestic abuse or domestic abuse is not taken lightly,” Bhatt said diversity. “It’s the very loose and quirky characters who think they have everything under control but actually have nothing under control. So this is where the humor really comes into play. It’s more of a comedy of mistakes.”

The cast also includes Shefali Shah (Netflix series Delhi Crime), Vijay Varma (BBC/Netflix series A Suitable Boy) and Roshan Mathew (Netflix film Choked).

The script came to Bhatt through Red Chillies Entertainment from Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan and she “absolutely loved it,” she says. “It’s very rare that you come across a script or a story that’s so intimate, but at the same time has so many levels and so much flair. That got me extremely excited to be a part of the world, but then also felt like I could take the next step and also be a producer on the film because it just felt like the right time to start this journey,” added Bhatt added.

Red Chillies co-produced the film with Eternal Sunshine and Bhatt describes the experience as “fabulous” and was reassured by the highly experienced company that put together the logistics of the shoot. “They made it so seamless and they just let me know and kept me updated so I could focus on acting because I was on set and needed to be creative,” says Bhatt. “I am very grateful and think it was such an easy, beautiful partnership.”

Bhatt has also completed her Hollywood debut, Heart of Stone, a Skydance/Netflix Production directed by Tom Harper (The Aeronauts), in which she stars alongside Gal Gadot and Jamie Dornan. Plot details are under wraps, but she describes the experience as “amazing.”

“It was my first experience of a major English film in Hollywood, and it was quite a challenge for me to do an action film for the first time,” says Bhatt. “But I’m also pregnant, so I had to deal with so many layers. But they made it so seamless and so easy and so convenient for me. It’s something I’ll never forget because I was treated so beautifully and well.” Bhatt says she was impressed with the security procedures on set and that the crew took good care of her, especially while she was filming in London was homesick.

“I had such a good time shooting with Gal [Gadot], with Jamie Dornan and with my director Tom Harper. I think we have something pretty cool coming up with Heart of Stone and I can’t wait for the world to see it,” says Bhatt.

Next up for Bhatt is the Disney magnum opus Brahmastra Part One: Shiva alongside her husband Ranbir Kapoor, which is due out September 9th.

“We set out to do something that has never been done before. It’s India’s biggest film yet in terms of vision, scope and the world we’re trying to open up – we’re really trying to open up a universe. The seed and the idea and the creation and everything – all credits to director Ayan Mukerji and we just live up to his tremendous vision,” says Bhatt.

“Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani”, to be released next year, reunites Bhatt with Karan Johar, who produced and directed her debut leading actress “Student of the Year” (2012), and is complete but for one song sequence. Bhatt describes the film, which also stars Ranveer Singh, Dharmendra, Jaya Bachchan, Shabana Azmi and Preity Zinta, as “a lighthearted family film, full of singing dance and everything wonderful and fabulous and all the family feelings – all wrapped up in one sweet package.”

Farhan Akhtar’s Jee Le Zara, along with fellow Bollywood stars Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Katrina Kaif, will begin next year, Bhatt says. There’s a movie planned starring “RRR” star NTR Jr., but Bhatt says nothing is confirmed for now.

Meanwhile, as a producer, Bhatt hopes to continue her relationship with Netflix, which she describes as “a partnership for life.” Content in development at Eternal Sunshine includes “an exciting show” and a “really beautiful film”.

“Right now you just send the message to directors, young writers, if they want their content put together, they should come to me and we’ll make it happen,” says Bhatt.

https://variety.com/2022/tv/news/alia-bhatt-darlings-shah-rukh-khan-gal-gadot-1235329785/ Alia Bhatt on “Darlings”, collaboration with Shah Rukh Khan and Gal Gadot

Charles Jones

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