In terms of box office success, last year was not so fruitful for Vidya Balan but the actress says professionally she has come a long way and has learnt to voice her opinion confidently.
"Last year there were lessons to be learnt. Professionally, I've learnt to say no to projects I don't want to do. I'm no longer apologetic about voicing my opinion. I guess I've become more confident and therefore more assertive," Vidya told IANS.
"At times I didn't know how to say no to a filmmaker. Now the painful process has become less difficult. If I say no to a project I don't see that as a rejection of an individual's creativity. I just see the project as being non-relatable with me," she added.
In 2008, Vidya is looking at something different.
"At the same time I want to have fun. My two releases in the first-half this year - Halla Bol and Kismet Connections- are very different from one another. For this year I've only signed a Bengali film so far. I like where I am."
She laughs when her Kismet Connections hero Shahid Kapur is mentioned.
"I've been linked with practically every co-star I've worked with. I get along famously with all of them. And I am single. So people are looking for masala to make my life, and theirs, more interesting," she laughed.
<b1>"Spice apart, I got along very well with Shahid during our schedule in Toronto. People just wanted to say there was more to our friendship than meets the eyes.
"Honestly, even I like to gossip. Most of us enjoy it. Someone must have reported that we laughed a lot together on the set. It's like saying, 'If an actress gives a really good performance, she must be having an affair with the director.' Likewise, if Shahid and I were having so much fun, we must be a couple."
So what is Vidya's rapport with Shahid?
"The way Aziz uncle (director Aziz Mirza)'s team worked was very friendly. Everyone in the unit went out for dinner together. All of us went for walks together. I guess the two of us were high profile. But Shahid never shared confidences with me."
What about Vidya playing hostess to Shahid's screenings of Jab We Met?
She groaned loudly. "Oh God! I went to one screening of Jab We Met. Over there I met my Heyy Babyy writer Milap Jhaveri and had tea with him. The next day when reports of Shahid and me came out, Milap wondered how this could be true when I wasn't anywhere near Shahid throughout the evening."
Vidya turned a year older on New Year's day and spent her birthday with her family.
She was In Delhi visiting her sister and her parents joined her. For Vidya, it was a perfect birthday.
"I've great faith in myself. Of course, there're tough times. But God has brought me to them and he'll take me through them. That's what keeps me going," Vidya said