On the occasion of Rabindranath Tagore’s 150th birth centenary, National Award winning director Rituparno Ghosh is reportedly planning to take forward one of the Nobel Laureate’s short stories. Kabuliwallah could have Amitabh Bachchan in the title role, with Vidya Balan as a grown-up Mini, who the Afghan had wooed as a child with badam pisti and sasur badi (in-laws’ home) jokes.
Says Balan, “Rituda and I have been discussing ideas for the last three years. Let’s see which one happens. Kabuliwallah is my favourite Tagore story, I’ve always wondered what happened to Mini after she got married and really went to her sasur badi; and the Kabuliwallah after he returned home to his daughter in Kabul,” she muses, adding that it would be wonderful to work with Bachchan again. “He’s just bagged a fourth well-deserved National Award for Paa. I feel like a proud mother.”
Vidya is currently in Kolkata shooting for Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahani. She plays a pregnant woman on a mission in this thriller, supposedly inspired by Kill Bill. “Sujoy narrated the script to me a year-and-a-half ago. I’ve seen Kill Bill, there are no similarities with Uma Thurman’s character apart from the fact that I’m expecting a baby who brings hope and ensures that this story doesn’t become too dark,” she argues. “A woman protagonist is rare in Hindi cinema and lends herself to all kinds of references and inferences.”
She’s enjoying her ‘pregnancy’ and loves mimicking the waddle. “Expectant mammas look divine. But I’ve been reading a book on pregnancy and all that about morning sickness, strange cravings and body changes is scary,” she admits. “The knowledge should come in handy some day. I’ve played mother to a 13 year old Auro, but I’ve been told that I won’t know what motherhood is about till the baby actually kicks inside me.”
She’s looking forward to the kicks and nine months of binging. For now, she’s keeping those cravings in check. ‘Maybe on the last day, I can gorge on rosogulla and mishti doi (sweet curd),” she says.
Vidya loves being in the City of Joy during Durga Puja. She’s visited Kumartuli where the idols are moulded. “I saw
craftsmen mixing clay. Some were painting Maa’s eyes, her most beautiful features,” she informs. “After Parineeta, I read that I had become a reference point for some Durga idols and felt blessed.”
On the first day of shooting in North Kolkata, she recognised locations she had shot in five years ago. “I immediately called Dada (Parineeta director Pradeep Sarkar) to share my memories,” she says.
A lot has changed in these five years. She’s travelled the world, grown as an actress and become a star.
“Recently, in Kalighat, fans watched me shoot all day. They’ve seen me in a Bengali film, Bhalo Theko, so some called out to me in Bengali. I answered back in ‘bangla’, taking them by surprise,” she laughs.
“That’s the magic of the movies… I can be Manjolika (Bhool Bhulaiya) or Lolita (Parineeta). Who knows, it could be Mini next! It’s this opportunity to be someone else that makes acting fun!” says Balan.