Alia Bhatt On Navigating Motherhood, Launching A Children’s Book And Collaborating With Famed Writers

Alia Bhatt

“There’s a certain rhythm, certain flair, certain enjoyment I feel when reading a book to Raha,” says Alia Bhatt when prompted about her ongoing innings at motherhood. “It’s been 19 months since reading a book to her every night.” Building on that very sentiment, she just released Ed Finds A Home, a children’s book she’s collaborated on with Vivek Kamath and Shabnam Minwalla, straight out of the Ed-a-mama universe.

Warm and receptive, Alia Bhatt’s sunny disposition reflects seamlessly in the way she talks, like a hug on a groggy Thursday morning. From comforting quips about her grandfather’s habit of reading her stories at bedtime to embedding the conscious pillars of her clothing brand Ed-a-mama into the book (the paper is FSC certified, by the way), her foray into the literature sphere is just the start for the multi-hyphenate.

We sat down for a freewheeling chat with Alia Bhatt, and an engaging conversation ensued. We discussed drawing parallels between acting and writing, turning the material into an animation series, and collaborating with Shaheen Bhatt in the future.

ELLE: When and how did you decide you wanted to write a book?

Alia Bhatt: I’ve grown up with stories all around me, whether it was my grandfather and mother reading them to me or my sister and father telling me stories. I was surrounded by storytellers. I clearly remember my grandfather would keep telling me about these three characters, Chunnu, Gunnu and Munnu and I don’t even know whether they were boys or girls. Maybe they were animals, could be rabbits – they kept changing in my imagination.

They’re definitely going to make an entry into the universe of Ed-a-mama at some point. Chunnu, Gunnu and Munnu basically became my escape, making my imagination run wild when my grandfather narrated the said stories to me.

And a couple of years ago (this was pre-COVID) my team, and the leader of our team, Vivek Kamath, who’s also the co-writer of this book just had a thought collectively. That of starting a children’s book series. And hopefully an animation series. This is when the children’s world was just sort of booming in terms of stories and series and stuff like that. Also note, this is prior to the launch of Ed-a-mama, the clothing brand.

All we knew was that we wanted the story to be about a girl, her dog and them going on these adventures to save the planet. Because no one is ever too big or small to make a change or a difference. So even before I launched Ed-a-mama, the brand, this idea was born which later translated into this idea of developing a conscious clothing wear brand for kids, homegrown in India. So we just put the soul of the story into the brand.

This first book would not have been possible without Vivek Kamath, and Shabnam Minwalla, and of course, Tanvi Bhatt, who’s done an outstanding job at the illustration bit. It’s all hand-painted. The paper of this book is all FSC-certified paper. And that’s something that we were very keen on because that is the ethos of the brand.

ELLE: What was the entire process like?

Alia Bhatt: So it started off with Vivek and I sitting down with our ideas and thoughts. Okay, we want this, we want that, and then Vivek did a go at it. He wrote something out and sent it to me. I made my own notes and changes to it and sent it back to him. And that back and forth happened for quite some time. And then we reached out to Shabnam who came on board with some fabulous contributions.

And that’s basically how it came together. But it’s the timing and the refining that took some time. Like, okay, when do we want to launch it? What’s the best time? And, of course, everybody knows we were hit by COVID and we strongly wanted the clothing brand to first gain its own identity. And then later, we ventured into this. Launching it on my grandfather’s birthday is a way of immortalising him. He passed away but his stories live on forever.

ELLE: If parallels were to be drawn between the creation of a book and acting, in what ways do you think the two overlap?

Alia Bhatt: The way we do films, it’s always a collaborative process. And in the case of Ed Finds a Home, it’s surely been a collaboration of different minds coming together. All creative mediums will have lots of similarities in them, and the fact that they are all born from your mind, heart and soul.

ELLE: How has motherhood changed you as a person for the better?

Alia Bhatt: It’s all so evolving. It’s a massive change and it’s all changed for the better, but the simplest way I can put it is that my heart has never been more open and vulnerable than ever before.

ELLE: A famous writer you would potentially like to collaborate with, in the future for another book in the series?

Alia Bhatt: I think she’s quite the famous writer, and she’s very famous in my life, my sister Shaheen. Shaheen and I coming together to write a book will be quite special. But even my dearest friend Ayesha DeVitre, who’s written Kapoor And Sons is one of the most fantastic writers and minds that I’ve met. She’s actually written a couple of children’s books just for Raha which are unpublished. So, she’s somebody that I would love to bring on board.

ELLE: And lastly, could you sum up your experience of being a girl mom in 3 words?

Alia Bhatt: Empowering. Fulfilling. Enriching.

- Digital Fashion Writer


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