Her wild kiss in Ishqiya is steaming up the screen. And Arshad Warsi candidly admits that while Vidya Balan was pretty chilled out about it, the ‘kiss’ turned him all sweaty, awkward and running to wife Maria for permission.
I believed him because in front of the camera Vidya is a pro… Nothing fazes her or gets her fidgety. But off it, she’s a bore if you’re looking for chatpata quotes on sex and the single girl.
Quiz her about John Abraham, Akshay Kumar and Shahid Kapoor, all those hunks she’s supposed to have wowed, and she will roll her eyes and give you the ‘we’re-just-good-friends’ cliché. “So, who’s a dateable dude?” you wonder, with
gritted teeth. And she will flash a sunny smile, “May be George Clooney.” This time you want to drown her, in Ocean’s 14!
She caught my eye first in a detergent ad, as a budget conscious housewife. Then, as Saif’s misunderstood wife in Parineeta. By the time Eklavya came along, she was the actress I wanted to interview.
Not a problem, I was assured. Vidya was home on a ‘break’ and I could drop by at her Chembur residence on Saturday. The day came and went… My interview didn’t happen. I wasn’t stressed. It was for the Monday edition and there was still Sunday.
But by 6 pm, the next evening, my BP was alarmingly high. I’d been calling for hours on her cell phone, had left innumerable messages, but Vidya was unreachable. Even her manager wasn’t able to connect with her. I could visualise the thunderous expression on my editor’s face if I turned up the next morning without a cover story.
At 7 pm, when I was trying to figure out an alternate lead, an SMS interrupted my thoughts: “Call now.” I did, and Vidya was suitably apologetic. “I went shopping and forgot all about the interview. Since I had left my cell phone behind, there were no reminders.” How many times had I heard that excuse before, I told myself. I started out hating Vidya… And ended up charmed by her.
‘There’s something about Vidya’… That was the headline we ran with the interview. It was apt but I’m still trying to figure out what is that “something’. Is it her heartwarming smile? The easy camaraderie? Or is it the Bong connect?
Vidya is a true-blue Southern belle but thanks to mentor Pradeep Sarkar, anything related to the City of Joy is her joy. Once, after an interview, on my way out of the dubbing studio, I started chatting with the PR in my mother tongue, Bengali.
Suddenly, a voice rang out, “Who’s that talking in bangla?” I looked up sheepishly and found myself facing a curious Vidya. She flashed me her million-dollar smile and said, “I love the language. It brings back so many memories.” Borrowing the title from her Bengali film she added, “Bhalo theko (Stay well).”
After that we’ve had a couple more exchanges. It’s still difficult to get masala copy from her. She’ll tell you that she can make a meal of rice and bland daal without salt if her mother has cooked it. “Mother’s touch,” she explains, and I have to be content with hearing that on Valentine’s Day she was at a friend’s engagement ceremony, alone. Oof!
But then that’s Vidya, whose SMSes come with a smattering of Bengali words and smileys. Bhalo theko!