So weird that Alia is 24 today! When I was 24, I had just lost my 3rd post-college job and started working minimum wage in a movie theater. Which is kind of like being a major movie star I guess? At least we were both making money of the film industry. Except I had more popcorn smell that never gets out of your hair, and she has more glamorous premieres.
1. 1. I love you because you come from such an interesting family. A mother who is descended from Kashmiri and German refugees, and a father who is, well, Mahesh Bhatt!
2. I love you because it’s not just your parents who are cool! Your much older sister Pooja was a major talent as a teenager, just like yourself, and then transitioned to producing and directing, just like you might someday.
3. Even your cousins get in on the act! Mohit Suri is a talented director of the kind of sexy young romances your production house loves, and Emraan Hashmi is a talented star of those.
4. I love you because you grew up being super cute on filmsets, as we can see from this photo and from Shahrukh’s memories of playing with you during Chaahat and Duplicate.
5. I love you because you also grew up having all the confidence in the world, Karan remembers his first meeting with you to audition for SOTY, you were chubby and in a school uniform, but you danced around like you were already a superstar.
6. I love you because you showed that confidence in your very first movie. Where you weren’t a very good dancer, and hadn’t figured out acting so much, but you still held the center of the screen with pure chutzpah.
7. I love you because in your second film you suddenly gained all the acting ability in the world, and still kept that quality of confidently facing the camera.
8. You also served as a playback singer for the first time on this film, something a little unusual that has no become a standard part of the Alia Bhatt film promotion.
9. You continued to break barriers in your 3rd film, doing your first sex scene, cheerfully and light-heartedly.
10. And your dancing may not have been that great still, but it was getting a lot better!
11. I love you because you could have easily used Student of the Year for a launching pad into another series of light “girlfriend” type roles. But instead you took over a year for your next film and dedicated yourself entirely to learning your craft so that you could burst forth with one of the all time great performances of Hindi cinema in Highway. So good that I never want to watch it again, because it is too real.
12. I love you because you went straight from Highway to 2 States, the exact kind of light rom-com you could have been doing all along. Only you brought with you the acting skills and emotional depth you had gained in Highway which made your character so much better than the “standard” rom-com heroine had to be.
13. I love you because you went from one rom-com to another, which also reunited you with your SOTY co-star. And this second one demanded a lot more of your performance and character, and boy did you deliver! Helping to make Humpty Sharma one of the iconic films of the past few years.
14. I love you because after 2 States and Humpty Sharma, and then Shaandar, Highway was beginning to look like a one off experiment. And then BAM! Udta Punjab! Which took your performance from Highway and went even better!
15. And if Udta Punjab wasn’t enough, in the same year you gave us a subtle performance in Dear Zindagi that managed to carry the whole film, and what was essentially just an extended cameo in Kapoor & Sons which still managed to make more of an impression than one of the leads (Sidharth!).
16. I love you because you sang and danced with Shahid Kapoor in Shandaar.
17. And then a few months later you worked with him in a searing emotional confession scene with no glamour at all in Udta Punjab.
18. And in between the two you squeezed in a fun party song with Rishi Kapoor!
19. Not to mention the catchy party song of the year!
20. And you rounded out the year by going toe to toe with one of the best and best trained actors in Hindi film, and holding your own!
21. I love you because you refuse to play the game with your personal life either. You don’t talk about who you are dating, but you also don’t pretend that you are a perfect virgin who has never dated. You keep your personal life personal, but you aren’t ashamed of it.
22. I love you because you are only 24, and only in the industry 5 years, and you have already come so incredibly far! I can’t wait to see where you are at 5 years from now.
23. I also love you because your newest film looks like it might be one of the biggest hits of your career, definitely bringing you to a new level in a global audience (released in Germany!).
24. And finally, I love you because Humpty Sharma is one of my all time favorite movies, and your performance in it redefined the young heroine role. Someone who could get drunk and joke with the boys, but still be innocent and fragile.