Alia Bhatt Fights Her Dumb-Belle Image With ‘Genius Of The Year’

When it came to General Knowledge, Alia Bhatt proved to be hardly the student of the year. The 21-year-old goofed up on the TV show ‘Koffee With Karan’ and called Prithviraj Chauhan the President Of India, and this jaw-dropping faux pas launched a 1000 jokes, all of which characterised Alia as a privileged dumb-belle.

Not one to weep buckets at being so mocked and targeted, Alia has hit back with a howlarious video ‘Genius Of The Year’ that has been uploaded on All India Bakchod’s Youtube channel. Directed by Shakun Batra (of Ek Main Aur Ek Tu fame; and also from her mentor Karan Johar’s stable), this video is the best move that Alia could have been made after being torn to shreds for her Koffee howlers.

The video stars Alia herself (along with dad Mahesh, Arjun Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra, Karan Johar et al) and mercilessly lampoons, satirises and self references Alia’s dumb image till she vindicates herself and her intelligence at the end … or wait, does she?

I found myself grinning from ear to ear while watching ‘Genius Of The Year.’ It was hugely funny in parts, and starts off as a documentary crew follow brand-obsessed Air-headed Alia post her bitter Koffee experience. Upset at the jokes being cracked at her expense, Alia joins a mental gym which promises to take her from “Dolce and Gabbana to Smart like Shabana (Azmi).” Cue extensive swotting sessions set to the beat of Baby Bhatt’s songs — Faraday Faraday (the inventor) replaces the chorus of her song ‘Saturday Saturday’ and ‘Sodium on the Dance Floor’ is set to the ‘Radha teri chunri’ beats.

Finally, Alia is shown bracing for another appearance on ‘Koffee’ wherein Karan Johar fires a salvo of GK questions which the new brain-trained Alia gets all correct! But in keeping with the deliciously irreverent tone of the video there is a wicked twist at the tail.

Alia’s friends and family have obviously closed ranks in support. Hilarious cameos abound — Mahesh Bhatt cackles that Alia thought India’s national animal is Tiger Shroff. Alia’s friend Arjun Kapoor is also shown cracking jokes (his remark about her being so dumb she did a Chetan Bhagat movie backfires when it dawns on him that he is in the same film) and Alia’s female friend Parineeti is portrayed as a jealous rival. Watch the clip; it’s a winner. It may not instantly erase the connection between the word ‘dumb’ and ‘Alia’ but it speaks volumes for her native intelligence.

Kudos to Alia for reveling in her image instead of fighting it or sulking about it but her sporting attitude also does make you think about the power of the social media and collective stereotyping. Sure, we all love a good laugh but I also wonder why so much has been made of a failure to answer a few GK questions. Today, in the information age, these things spiral out of anybody’s control. Don’t mean to sound too sanctimonious, but let us not be so quick to stereotype people and then straightjacket them possibly forever in those images.

Actresses are expected to emote; and don’t really deserve a public and continuous dressing down for yawning gaps in their GK. There is no denying that a woman who can hold court on newspaper headlines has an edge with intellectuals and snobs (I am not equating the two) at cocktail parties over those who make small talk. But if Alia’s wardrobe is more extensive than her knowledge of world capitals, does it merit a hue and cry? Different strokes for different folks. A few laughs are fine but is it worth beating a young actress over the head with it?

To her credit, when she first became the butt of jokes, Ms Bhatt smiled and weathered it with remarkable humility. “I am the first person to laugh at myself. I always say that I would rather be stupid than pretend to be intelligent,” she said when asked if the jokes upset her.

But now that the storm was no longer in the teacup, the Bhatt babe has turned the guns trained on her in the direction of the firing squad. Alia has beaten the scoffers at their game by doffing her hat at her so-called dumbness; and cleverly co-opting it into her appeal.

Must say, a sense of humour is a sure sign of intelligence.

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