On Alia Bhatt's birthday, we take a look back at what was truly her decade

Remembering some of Bhatt's most iconic and memorable characters ever.

Harper's Bazaar India

Dear Alia, 

Bollywood would be incomplete without the free-spirited Veera, ambitious Vaidehi, stubborn Kaira, courageous Gangu, outgoing Safeena or sensitive Shanaya. What good would a conversation be without referring to Safeena’s ‘Main kya ghadiyal dikhti hu tereko? (Do I look like a watch to you?)' or Kaira’s ‘Kursi philosophy'? We’ve seen you grow from the 19-year-old girl who played a ditsy yet kind-hearted Shanaya to the president of Kamathipura. We’ve seen you blurt out the wrong name of the President of India, laugh off the relentless mocking that came your way, and take it all in your stride. We’ve seen you emerge and evolve into the leading female actor of the times, an entrepreneur, and new mama—and we’ve loved every moment of your journey. Your characters became a part of our lives in ways more than one. We look at some of your most iconic characters and the lessons they brought with them. 

Safeena, Gully Boy

Unfiltered. Honest. Ambitious. An absolute go-getter. These are only some words that can be used to describe Safeena from Gully Boy. As a girl from a middle-class family in a suburb of the Maximum City, she’s had to fight for all her choices—from wanting to study medicine to being in relationship with Murad, who lived in the slums of Dharavi. Safeena is focused and unafraid to be brutally honest about her thoughts and feelings.

We see a young Alia taking on this role with conviction, immersing every part of her being into the role and how. The lessons of courage, speaking up, and love came in humorous moments, intense dialogues, and silent conversations on the screen.

Gangu, Gangubai Kathiawadi 

The movie's trailer was met with hesitancy and mixed reactions—will Alia be able to pull this off? To say that audiences were stunned when the film released, would be a gross understatement. We were left in awe of the power and authority you commanded on screen, and the versatility of emotions that Gangu took us through. It was a new perspective on feminism, the female body, the world’s oldest profession, and what a woman truly wants. You brought tears to the eyes of many—reminding us of the (not-so) quiet corners of Mumbai that continue to go through what was displayed and more. 

Kaira, Dear Zindagi 

Could there be a more relatable character than this distressed jeans-wearing 20-something-year-old girl? This one was an ode to yourself, perhaps, and to every girl who navigates her way through her career as a cinematographer—something labelled as an unconventional job for a woman—love, friendships, and a fragmented relationship with her parents. Kaira is unapologetically stubborn, and we love her for that. The innocent childlike-ness mixed with a desire to resolve herself, one step at a time, touched us the most. 

Veera, Highway

For who else could make us aware that solace can be sought in strangers, sometimes, more than your own family? You played Veera, in your second film Highway and it was only upwards after. A scene that remains ingrained in our mind even today is Veera splashing water on her face from roadside tap, and being as free as she ever will. From being apprehensive and fearful at first to discovering herself and allowing herself to be the free-spirited girl that she is—we saw a different side to the actor we thought we knew—there was depth, an intense transformation and many layers that brought powerful emotions and impactful expressions.  

Shanaya, Student of the Year

I was 13-years-old, when I first watched the movie, and I remember wanting a wardrobe just like Shanaya’s—mini dresses, designer bags, and shoes enough to last a lifetime and more. I remembered being mesmerised by the chic looks and was taken in by the cutest one-liners. I wonder what went through your mind as you stepped in front of the camera for the first time. You were all of 19, and the world could hardly wait for you to take it on. You grew from being called out for nepotism to a well-rounded, versatile actor. Shanaya would be proud. 

Kumari Pinky, Udta Punjab

If Shanaya was on one end of the spectrum, Bauria was on the absolute other. A hard-hitting film, Udta Punjab highlighted a problem that had crept its way into the lives of many in Punjab. We see the many facets of Bauria—an aspiring hockey player, a migrant worker… and mostly a young girl caught in a spiral of drugs, Mafiosi, and abuse. Acting a part is one thing but entirely immersing oneself in such a difficult role is entirely different. And yet somehow, you did, incredibly, too. 

We’ve seen a little bit of you through all the characters that you’ve played and we can hardly wait for more. Here’s wishing you a happy 30th

A fan