Bollywood actress Alaya F, who made a promising debut with the endearing 2020 hit ‘Jawaani Jaaneman’, had a mixed start of a career. Though her role as a fiercely independent knocked-up girl who sets out to bond with her biological father (Saif Ali Khan) in the movie was widely appreciated, there came a catch.
“Right after my first film of my career released, the world shut down. We went into a global pandemic immediately after my film. So basically, ‘Jawaani Jaaneman’ completed its run in the theatres and the world shut down … So between my first and second movie, there was a gap,” said Alaya F in an interview over Zoom.
Those three years and 11 months were painstakingly “uncertain” for this young talent and daughter of model and actress Pooja Bedi, who had always dreamed of becoming an actress.
“So between my first and my second movie, there was nearly a three-year gap and that was very uncomfortable and not fun. Lots of important decisions had to be made that you didn’t really know how to make … There’s no formula on what works and doesn’t anymore,” said Alaya F. But she believes that her first film’s success and how she was appreciated in her debut role helped her sustain for over three years.
“We are currently still in unprecedented times. The whole nature of our industry and what’s working/not working is sort of turned upside down …. It has been such a huge learning curve for me.”
But despite having lost considerable time and sailing through topsy-turvy times, Alaya F, 25, has managed to be relevant with her choice of work and her goofy and personable social media personality. She topped up her ‘Jawani Jaaneman’ debut with roles in unconventional films like ‘Freddy’ in which she played a woman in an abusive marriage and ‘Almost Pyaar With DJ Mohabbat’. The fourth film in her career is not distant either.
Playing a journalist
On April 28, she will spearhead the supernatural thriller ‘U-Turn’, out on Zee5Global. She plays a plucky journalist Radhika who sets out to write an investigative piece on a flyover that has seen unnatural deaths and fatal accidents. On that particular eerie flyover, drivers tend to make bizarre errors that cost them their lives.
“The narration for this film happened over Zoom during the pandemic and honestly I had never enjoyed narrations over Zoom. I was sceptical with this one, but I remember having the best time during this narration because I loved the story from start to finish. I had so many questions and was engaged from the word go. I had so many questions after the narration,” said Alaya F.
Directed by debutante director Arif Khan and produced by TV mogul Ektaa Kapoor, Alaya F will be doing the heavy-lifting in this movie.
“And that’s slightly scary for me because this is a film that I am basically shouldering all by myself. But when have a powerful boss lady like Ektaa Kapoor believing in you to shoulder it, then you stop doubting yourself as much,” said Alaya F.
Plus, the granddaughter of Kabir Bedi and Protima Bedi also makes it a habit to surround herself with a tribe who support her and are honest in their approach to her work and performances. They are fiercely loyal and keep her grounded.
Her social media account, especially Instagram with over 1.5 million followers, is also fiercely real, flawed, and fabulous. She talks about fitness, health, and nutrition without making it look like a charmed existence.
“People have no really shifted from making their social media all glossy and glam and are trying to be just real. It’s much easier to be authentic and people like you so much more for being authentic,” said Alaya F. Even during this interview, she came across as a young woman who’s confident, real, and genuinely interested in people. Her animated face when you talk about UFOs and ghosts also remind you that she’s goofy in a lovable way. “First I make sure that I don’t surround myself with people who make me feel bad about myself in any way. You cannot be a part of my orbit or my friend circle or my space, if you can’t effectively put across a point in a productive way … And I have always believed in keeping it real,” said Alaya F.
On Personal Battles
The actress has also been open about how she continues to battle PCOS. Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition where you have few, unusual or very long periods.
“People just assume that I am naturally skinny or naturally a certain way. But when you have PCOS, you put on weight instantly, your skin goes for a toss, and your hormones are out of whack. It’s an all-consuming condition that one in three women have. Trust me, it’s very hard for me to stay in shape, to stay fit and to be contained. But I am open about it,” said Alaya F.
She clearly belongs to the new breed of young women in Bollywood who don’t shy away from wearing their vulnerabilities on their sleeves.
“I know I have a very positive equation and relationship with my body … and that helps.”
She also claims she’s fiercely independent. Her parents, including her mother and former model Pooja Bedi, have gotten used to her rebel spirit. Apparently, they have learnt to let her be and chart her own career. They are not the kind of parents who shepherded her career or acting choices. Often “nepo babies” (children of actor parents who gain easy access to roles in Bollywood) have overbearing parents who decided how their privileged child shapes his/her career. But Alaya F is not one of them.
“My parents have always been loving and supportive. But they are not involved in my career because I want to do this myself. I have been financially independent since 21. I live in my own home and I have been a fiercely independent person. And that’s the way I like to be and now my family has totally adapted to it. I want to do this part of my journey on my own.”
And so far, she has being doing well. U-turn included.
“I think it’s so ignorant to believe that in this huge universe you are alone. I believe in aliens. We can’t be the only intelligent life around. And yes, I believe in ghosts and UFOs too,” said Alaya with a grin.
Don’t Miss It!
U-turn is out on Zee5Global on April 28