Vidya Balan was all smiles, confidence and sex appeal. The rave reviews she got for her just-released movie, The Dirty Picture, probably had something to do with it. Addressing the HT Leadership Summit, she said she was revelling in the new tag given to her, that of a sex symbol.
"I love it," she smiled.
Balan said she was grateful for the good reviews as she had worked very hard for the role (even putting on weight and becoming a 'fatty', as HT Media advisor Vir Sanghvi put it).
She agreed it was a role not many actors would have taken up, but for her it was a script/story she'd have wanted to see as a viewer.
"Three years back, when I was getting flak for anything and everything, I sat back and introspected and asked myself what I was here (Bollywood) for. I realised it was acting. That's when I decided to take on only performance-driven roles."
Next up is a thriller set in Kolkata in which she plays a pregnant woman. When Sanghvi asked her if she would ever do "normal" films, Balan said she would, but only if the role excites her.
Talking about Silk Smitha, the southern siren her role in The Dirty Picture is based on, Balan claimed she was like Silk in some ways.
"I have a bad side too. I enjoy and celebrate my body the way she did."
At the same time, she said, they were two very different people.
"I never understood how Silk never used her head. It was all about her body. But there has to be another layer to a person. There's more than just the body."
'Body' was a word that came up often during the session. Balan said she'd like to leave behind "a body of work" by which people could remember not just her but also the characters she played.
She also welcomed the return of the buxom figure when a member of the audience asked her if she had started the trend.
"Thumbs up to the buxom woman," she proclaimed.
"Size zero is boring!"