Exactly 11 years back, on June 10, a powerful actor started her journey with Parineeta (2005). No one knew that Vidya Balan was going to be a pioneer in changing the face of the modern Hindi film heroine. “I think people do give me credit for that,” says Vidya, as she talks about her life, career and more.
You complete eleven years in the industry today…
Last year, I was like, “Oh god, das saal ho gaye (Oh god, it has already been 10 years).” I can’t believe it. I am grateful for the kind of work I have been able to do and all the love I have received. Some memories are so sharp even now that I can’t believe Parineeta happened 11 years back. I guess the important memories will always remain clear and special.
Has the journey been a fairy tale?
I have had my share of ups and downs. But I am living my dream; I always wanted to be an actor. So, I feel blessed. I never regret the downs. If there were no downs, I wouldn’t have felt the thrill of the ups. It has been an exciting journey, and things have only gotten better in the last few years.
You are credited with starting the trend of women-centric films…
Honestly, I feel that my hunger and greed as an actor makes me impatient, and therefore, I take up opportunities without worrying about the consequences. I am very instinctive, and I was at the right place, at right time and with the right amount of hunger to take up such parts. Someone had to start it; the change was waiting to happen.
The perception is that, of late, you have slowed down…
It’s completely misplaced. I had slowed down a bit last year due to health issues. Now, by God’s grace, I am in good health and am back to work – starting with two special appearances. I have just finished the Kahaani (2012) sequel and I will be starting work on Begum Jaan in about a week. I have also signed the biopic on Kamala Das (poet). So, I will be shooting through the year. I am working more than I have in seven-eight years. But I am not complaining.
Other actresses are also doing strong parts now, and being appreciated for them. Do you feel a sense of competitiveness because of that?
I have never been part of any race or number game. I have always worked at my [own] pace. I am living in a world of my own. So I don’t get into kaun kya kar raha hai (who’s doing what) or how much their films have made [at the box office]. Be it Kangana (Ranaut), Alia (Bhatt) or Deepika (Padukone) – they are fantastic. I was amazed to see a song featuring Alia in her next film. What I like most is that she is trying different things, and so is Kangana. There are so many other actresses [who are doing different roles] like Anushka (Sharma). It’s an exciting time, and if there’s any competition, it’s healthy.
For ages, the perception has been that married actresses can’t do well in B-town. But that seems to be changing…
Earlier, girls who worked even as stenographers, typists and teachers would leave their job post marriage. But this practice is undergoing a change in every field. So, the same was bound to happen even in the film world. Women’s professional lives don’t stop after marriage or after the birth of their child. Previously, there was this notion that married actresses aren’t desirable. Maybe, they didn’t want to be seen as desirable as it was threatening for their partners or not acceptable by their families. But now, everyone feels desirable, even at when they are 50 or 60 (laughs). Marriage and child birth is nothing.
You just played Geeta Bali for a Marathi film. Are you a fan of the late actor?
I am playing Geeta Bali from Albela (1951). It’s a biopic on Bhagwan Dada (late director), and Albela was a high point in his career. Albela is one of the films that I have enjoyed watching the most. I have seen a couple of other movies starring Bali as well, but Albela is on top of my mind. Also, Siddharth (Roy Kapur; husband) collects old film posters, and we have 60-70 of them. But since we can’t them up all [on the wall] at one time, we keep rotating the posters. But ever since we have gotten married, the Albela poster has been up. It’s a coincidence maybe.
On playing Meena Kumari!
I would love to play her. There was so much pathos and pain in her life, and yet, she was so sensuous, and appears intriguing and mesmerising. She led a tumultuous life, and, of course, was a lovely actress. To get under the tragedy queen’s skin would be great. I was offered a Meena Kumari biopic immediately after The Dirty Picture (TDP; 2011), but I didn’t do it as I had just done the biopic on Silk Smitha.