Vidya Balan has time and again proved her acting prowess with the myriad characters she has essayed in films such as The Dirty Picture (2011) and Kahaani 2 (2016). The actor will be seen playing the role of a madam of a brothel in a forthcoming film called Begum Jaan, and a radio jockey in another project titled, Tumhari Sulu. HT Café catches up with Vidya at her home a few days before her birthday on January 1.
Excerpts from the interview
What are your birthday plans this year?
I’ll be with my family. I may want to have a party this year, but it’ll be a private one with close people. And I’ll like to let my hair down (smiles).
The quality of cinema in India is improving, but at the same time, studios have gone bust. Many films have done poorly at the box office. What’s your take?
I think the economics of the industry has been whopped. I guess that is reflective of what’s happening in the rest of the world. The moneyed make more money, and the rest don’t. Most importantly, for films to continue being made — and being married to a producer (Siddharth Roy Kapur), I can say for sure —producers need to make money. When I talk about producers or studios, for anyone who’s putting in money, there has to be a return on their investment. There has to be a profit. I meet actors and directors who have done films that have either stopped midway or they haven’t been released. I’m sure there must be good content. In the male actor-driven films, a large chunk of the money goes back to them (the actors). The producers get a very small amount. I am not completely aware of the situation, but this is my understanding of it. Therefore, we should look at some corrective measures. Also, we need more theatres all over the country.
Career-wise, what are you looking forward to in 2017?
I have Begum Jaan, which is extremely powerful. It let me vent my angst as a woman. In Tumhari Sulu, I play a radio jockey. The character is different from the morning jockey I played earlier for Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006). This one is naughty and fun.
How has digitisation changed an actor’s life?
Thankfully, there is no pressure when you are shooting on [the] digital [medium]. It allows you a lot of room to play around with, because technology has advanced. As an actor, how digitisation has impacted us is that there is no pressure of losing time or footage, which exists in the case of films. Also, shooting on a film [reel] is much more expensive. So, there are a lot of positive changes. Today, people can shoot a film on a mobile phone. If you have a story to tell, but you don’t have the resources, you can use various apps on a mobile phone. Also, sometimes, a story can be told only through a short film format, because there are stories that will lose their impact if they’re told over two hours. And now, there are web series too. Those have opened up a Pandora’s box. Also, non-Hindi cinema is doing well. People asked me whether such movies pose a threat to Hindi cinema, since I did Ekk Albela (a Marathi film). I think good content can pose a threat to any kind of cinema.
Who is that one young actor who surprises you with his or her interpretation of a character?
I loved Alia Bhatt in Udta Punjab. I didn’t expect to see her in that role. The way she did it — with complete abandon… you don’t see Alia Bhatt anywhere [in the character]. I think that is admirable and that really surprised me.
According to you, which male actor will make a lethal combination with you on screen?
I don’t know about a lethal combination, but it will be lovely to work with Ranbir Kapoor because I really like him as an actor.