She's back in town, hair styled short. Bhool Bhulaiyaa is her fifth release of the year. It’s been pretty hectic, living in and out of hotel suites and suitcases. Aah, so now there is trade talk that she’s cutting down on work and focusing on one project at a time. That has her gritting her teeth though. En route to a studio, Vidya Balan clears the air with Roshmila Bhattacharya.
With Halla Bol scheduled for release soon, that'll be your sixth for the year.. so how's it been?
Busy and fulfilling even though not all the films were women-oriented... or even had me in the female lead. That's a good thing actually because seeing me in six Parineetas would have been unbearable.
Is it true that you will now concentrate on one film at a time? Like Aamir Khan, huh?
It's a huge compliment to be compared to Aamir but please, it's not true. I've only just started out. It would be foolish to cut down on work at this point.
Why the fleeting appearance in Eklavya and the two-three scene role in Guru? Even Salaam-e-Ishq was just one track amongst six while Halla Bol is reported to be Ajay's Devgan's film.
I didn't want to miss out on the opportunities of working with Raj Kumar Santoshi, Mani Ratnam or my mentor Vidhu Vinod Chopra.
Well, Vinod Chopra's Eklavya is off to the Oscars on a wave of controversy.
It's a matter of pride for any film to be in the contention for the Oscar. I hope we win. Mr Chopra's films have always been way ahead of the times, even Khamosh and Parinda. On the court case, I don't want to say anything much since the matter is sub judice, except that in a creative field, things are always very subjective. You can like Shah Rukh Khan and I could be an Aamir fan, but that doesn't make either of the Khans any lesser an actor.
<b1>Despite the denials, the references to Rajnikant's Chandramukhi or the original Malayalam film Mani Chitra Thazhu still crop up in connection with Bhool Bhulaiyaa? Your performance is bound to be compared with the National Award-winning one by Shobhana in the Malayalam film.
Meena Kumari was Bimal Roy's Parineeta, but no one dared to compare my performance with hers. It's the same with Shobhana. She's special, in a different league altogether.
If I can come up with even 10 per cent of what she did in Mani Chitra Thazhu, it'll be an achievement. We've tried to make a good film, and despite what everyone says it's original.
What was more difficult-the dancing or the acting?
The acting wasn't half as challenging as the dancing. Like any South Indian kid, I too had trained in classical dance, but then I lost touch. Priyan sir (director Priyadarshan) signed me on knowing this. I worked for a year with my guru Sharada whenever I could spare the time.
Two weeks before we started shooting, I dedicated myself to dance. I rehearsed with (choreographer) Pony Verma and her assistant Purnima eight to 10 hours a day. I love the number
.. though it required far more practice than
Hare Ram Hare Krishna
which is a groovy number you can move to easily. It was smart of Pritam not to make it too heavily classical. That would have alienated the lay person.
The film's music launch was different, but didn't its venue - the
House of Horrors– give you the shivers?
(Laughs) It was a cool idea and I was too busy to be scared. The house we shot in also had a certain eerie ambience, like any heritage structure. But even there, I didn't encounter any ghosts.
Did Akshay Kumar play any pranks during this shoot too?
He wasn't as playful as he was during
!.. the mood was different.
You could have had two releases on October 12,
Laaga Chunari Mein Daag. You were Pradeep Sarkar's first choice for the role being played by Konkona Sen Sharma in the Yash Raj production.
Yeah, and I felt terrible saying "no" to
, but there were date problems. Even though I'm not a part of it,
film is still my film. I have my fingers tightly crossed.
What's with the new haircut? Is it a continuation of the Heyy Babyy! makeover?
(Laughs) It's my Lucky Charms look. I wanted to try something different for Aziz Mirza's film. Going by the number of compliments I've got since I've been back from Canada, its worked.
Thank God for that because from the little that I've read, the
! look got me a lot of flak. I admit I've yet to look my best in my films. I have to be more careful.
How was Toronto?
Wonderful, I've fallen in love with it. The city is so clean and culturally alive. Unfortunately, because of our tight schedule, I couldn't get to watch any films or plays.. I couldn't even make it to the Toronto Film Festival.
Were you mobbed by NRI fans there?
No, it still takes time for my fans to recognise me, more so after this haircut. When they came to the shoot, they'd zoom in on me instantly.
Otherwise, they would pass me by on the road.. (laughs) then do a double take when they realised it was Vidya Balan . Shahid (Kapoor) and Boman (Irani) were the ones who were mobbed.
It's said that after Juhi Chawla you're now Aziz Mirza's mascot?
I hope I can prove that true. Azizji is such a warm person. The first thing he does even on meeting a perfect stranger, is reach out and hug the person.
Did his jadoo ki jhappis shake Shahid Kapur out of his blues, following the break-up with beau Kareena Kapoor?
I don't want to wander into that territory because it's someone's personal life. All I can say is that Shahid is a professional. When he was on the sets, he didn't let anything come in the way of work.