With the release of the new trailer of ‘Jawaani Jaaneman’, a new face has emerged on the Bollywood Boulevard.
Alaya F, who is Pooja Bedi’s daughter and granddaughter of actor Kabir Bedi, makes her debut in the film. Sharing the poster, Alaya took to Instagram and wrote: “A little quirk, a little sass, and too much funk.”
Alaya was a highly followed Instagram celebrity before making her Bollywood debut and had a huge following because of her style and quirk.
In an exclusive interview, the starlet opened about her past to connect with her fans.
“I did my high school in Bombay [Mumbai] and then I went to New York to study direction. During my course in direction, I realised that I had affinity towards acting and I found out that being in front of the camera was more fulfilling. That’s when I came back one summer and changed my major. From New York University, I shifted to New York Film Academy where I studied for one more year. Then, I trained for the next five years. Acting in a Hindi film is a different ball game altogether. I took diction classes and dance classes. I was a very bad dancer and that required a lot of work. I studied contemporary dance to classical like Kathak.”
Opting for an unconventional debut role
With everyone expecting a fun, lighthearted comedy from the new starlet, Alaya surprised the fans by taking the role of a pregnant 21-year old in Jawaani Jaaneman, with Saif Ai Khan playing her father! “Honestly, a lot of people get ‘launches’. For me, this was a ‘break’,” says Alaya when we ask why she didn’t go for a conventional Hindi film.
“I did a lot of auditions and tests for lots of films, this is the one that worked out because I happened to fit into it perfectly. I am grateful, as this is the perfect choice! It’s unconventional, and I want to do that for the rest of my career, conventional, unconventional, all of it. People are asking me ‘what type of films do you want to do’, I can never answer it hence!,” says Alaya.
Her take on Bollywood Nepotism:
“At the end of the day, the biggest statement on that will be you work. You can talk about your struggles to no end, but no one is going to care whether you trained for 14 hours a day or didn’t train at all. I definitely recognise and acknowledge privilege. But I auditioned for this part and I got through my agency. My grandfather [Kabir Bedi] or my mother was never there for a single photo shoot of mine or during a single scene of mine on the sets of ‘Jawaani Jaaneman’. I kept them away as much as possible consciously and they respect that. I want to do this by myself and for myself.”
On not choosing to use family connections the actress said, “I don’t know… for me, I always wanted it to be my own thing. When you get people involved, you are obligated to take their opinions. My mom hasn’t been to a single set, even a photo shoot of mine. I like my independence and making my own choices. I am sure I will make a lot of mistakes, I have made a lot of them, but they are mine to learn from. Maximum my mother and grandfather would do is get me meetings with makers to show them my work, my portfolio, my acting reel. They would say ‘you have great potential, very good’, but that was about it, I never heard from them again. That was more to meet people in the industry. But getting my film and everything was through my agency.”
How Alaya got discovered by Bollywood Directors
‘She has all the qualities we were looking for in the young lead, the charisma and energy to take the film to the level that it needs. We are lucky to have found our perfect cast and I’m looking forward to working with Alaia,’ says Saif. Alaia has done acting workshops with Ritesh Kant and Abhishek Pandey earlier.
Jay, who has worked with Saif as a creative producer on Race and Race 2, added that they have zeroed in on the debutante after screen-testing 50 aspirants. ‘Someone told me that Pooja Bedi’s daughter wants to act, so I checked out her pictures and sent a message to Pooja who put me in touch with Alaia’s agency. We loved her test, she’s got the film completely on her own merit,’ he informs.
Jay then took Alaia to Kashmir to meet her director. ‘Within 10 minutes of our meeting, Nitin felt that she is the perfect cast for this film. She will play a fun-loving, independent girl, sporting a modern look in the film and will begin her readings and workshops next month, while we will start shooting for the film in March. However, she pretty much needs to be herself in the film as the role is quite tailor-made for her,’ adds Jay.
Riding her own wave: “It was assumed that I would be an actor, because my mother is an actress. Everyone expected that out of me. But it was I who eventually figured out that I wanted to be an actress. I had a great love for the world of films and camera from the beginning.”
On working with seasoned actors like Saif Ali Khan and Tabu, Alaya said: “I thought I was going to be lost. But I was not as lost as I thought I would be because they never treated me like someone new. It was collaborative and director Nitin gave me instructions and feedback in the same way he gave it to Saif sir and Tabu ma’am.”
“My first scene was complicated. It was that revelatory scene where I tell him [Saif Ali Khan] that he could be my father. So when I reached the sets on my first working day, Nitin sir [director] said: ‘no pressure, but let’s try to do the whole scene without any stops or cuts.’ It was a seven page scene that translated into a six-minute scene without any stops. My character paces up and down and I had to be careful that my face is in the right angle so that the light won’t catch it… They threw me in the deep end hoping I would swim and thankfully I did.”
‘Jawaani Jaaneman’ releases in the UAE on January 30.