While the world speculates about the relationship between actors Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor, her papa, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, has decided to keep fans on tenterhooks. On Friday night, pictures of Bhatt talking to Ranbir in Alia’s apartment surfaced and sent everyone into a tizzy – was he praising the actor for his latest film Sanju, or was he giving his nod to the Ranbir-Alia relationship? “When I saw those pics, I was like, ‘Oh, the paparazzi age is here and you have people from the outside using their premise to capture the image, because that’s what the nation is thrusting for.’ So, not saying more, I’d let the paparazzi guess if papa is raazi,” laughs Bhatt. Asked if he ever advises Alia on relationship matters, the filmmaker says, “It’s very obvious that [Ranbir-Alia] are making no bones about talking to people about them being intimate. And I don’t belong to that category of parents who’d advise their children about their personal choices. Alia is an adult and it’s a matter that she has to resolve. It’s their life, their space. I respect and admire them for choosing to talk to the world when, and if, they want to do.” Bhatt adds that though Alia has always been vocal, she’s very clear that her private life is private. “That way, she’s very unlike my elder daughter, Pooja (actor-filmmaker), who lives her life in the public eye. I never had walls around me and I’ve been very expressive, and Pooja is more like me. But Alia is of a different temperament and why she chooses to speak or doesn’t speak is something she has the right to answer.” Mention Ranbir and Bhatt’s face lights up; he starts showering praise on the young actor. “I like and love him very much. He has got a core far deeper than what cinema space can capture,” the filmmaker says. “He astounded me in Sanju. After Amitabh Bachchan’s Deewar (1975), this is the first time I’ve seen an actor take charge of a character, which is iconic like Sanjay Dutt. Ranbir is barely 34 or 35 and though he comes from the great lineage of the Kapoor family, he has a unique charm and talent that’s his own. He is an original, just like Alia is an original,” states Bhatt. When asked if it bothers him at all when Alia’s rumoured relationship overtakes all the good work that she has been doing, he sounds unperturbed. “So what? Even if it does, that’s what life is all about. Alia haad-maas ki ladki hai and she’s like anybody else. Yes, she’s a star today, but like every human relationship is vulnerable to the highs and lows, my daughter is no different. We tend to attribute magical qualities to celebrities, but they’re pathetically similar to the person reading so hungrily about him or her. Also, relationships have seasons and I don’t see any human being not being able to go through life without going through those seasons,” Bhatt signs off. Published in Daily Times, July 12th 2018.