She faced rejection from filmmakers, was criticised for not being a typical leading lady and was the subject of many rumours. But today, Vidya Balan is a shining example of how to make it big in Bollywood without buckling under pressure. In the wake of Jiah Khan’s suicide on June 3 that shocked the film industry, the actor opens up about the travails of being famous.
Vidya says, “It’s not just about the pressure an actor feels. We also hear statements such as ‘You’ve got to score so many marks’, ‘Do such-and-such in life’ or ‘Reach that level’ in everyday life.”
Vidya feels pressures are greater on women in Bollywood. “There’s pressure on women to be a certain way, do certain things. Everything around is geared towards making you feel not good about yourself. If you are a certain weight, you want to be thinner, or want to gain weight, get surgery or have your assets enhanced. (There’s criticism like) You don’t have the right height or the right smile and so on. There is so much focus on the exterior that people have forgotten that there’s a person within,” she says.
Much like Jiah, her The Dirty Picture (2011) character Silk Smitha, too, found success early only to struggle later. However, Vidya feels that one must not try to conform to the norms. “It’s okay to not be perfect. Perfection is an illusion. People who achieve anything in life don’t live by the rules. They live for themselves.”
The actor, who was panned for her fashion sense, finally came into her own with help from designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee. She says, “I’m grateful for the realisation I had five years ago. I realised that if I’m happy, then everything else will fall into place. I learnt that I can never make the world happy. We all need to focus on the person within us, who we are neglecting.”