In Udta Punjab Alia Bhatt plays Kumari Pinky (Bauria), a young girl from Bihar who aspires to play Hockey for the country starts working as a labourer in Punjab. But circumstances force her to sell drugs and this lands her in deep trouble. She is physically abused by drug-peddlers and even forced into prostitution. The film showcases the struggles of common girls like Bauria.
Imtiaz Ali's Highway helped Alia showcase her acting prowess in its fullest glory. She played a young girl who gets abducted by a gang of goons and later develops Stockholm syndrome. She was paired with method actor Randeep Hooda in the film and shared an unusual but refreshing chemistry with him on-screen.