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Vidya Balan: smiles to go

She has been linked to Sanjay Dutt, Akshay Kumar, John Abraham and Shahid Kapur. Never mind because she's pretty much career-focussed too. Vidya Balan speaks to Roshmila Bhattacharya.

entertainment Updated: Jan 07, 2008 19:38 IST

Rumours spare no one, least of all an actress with a killer smile, an enviable ratio of hit movies and of course, her singleton status. She has been linked er..with Pradeep Sarkar and then with an assortment of heroes from Sanjay Dutt and Akshay Kumar to John Abraham and Shahid Kapur.

Never mind because she's pretty much career-focussed too. So to cut a short intro shorter, here's Vidya Balan in dialogue with Roshmila Bhattacharya

So are you dating Shahid Kapoor?
How can we be dating when he's supposed to be seeing someone else?

You mean Sania Mirza.. or Amrita Rao?
It doesn't matter. At least it's no longer me. Now I can laugh off all the rumours. (Laughs) I'm cleared.

Apparently, the rumours have been affecting you a lot?
Not really, because I don't even read the papers. I know there has been a lot of speculation about us of late.. but there has been so much happening on the career front that I haven't had much time to worry about gossip. The media's doing its job, I'm doing mine.

<b1>Your film with Shahid Kapur was initially titled Kismat Connection.. then it was changed to Lucky Charms.. now it's back to the earlier title. What's going on?
I liked Lucky Charms. I was one of the few fighting for it. But I admit that may be Kismat Connection is a more apt title. It's a sweet film that's shaping up well.. so far, so good.

Will working with Kareena Kapoor be a problem, when you start shooting for Sajid Khan's next?
Sajid's film hasn't come to me yet. That's another bit of speculation.

I believe Sanjay Dutt was very keen to cast you in his home production Bihaad. What's happening on that front?
I have no clue. It's an interesting story. I'd want it to be made. Nana Patekar has been saying that he wants to cast you in the film he's planning to direct.

Have you been approached?
I haven't got any call yet. But yes, I believe Nana has expressed an interest in working with me. I'm humbled!

What prompted you to accept a film like Halla Bol which even its director Rajkumar Santoshi admits revolves around Ajay Devgan?
Yes, Halla Bol is Ajay's film, most definitely. My role may be relatively small but it required conviction and a ‘real' performance. Rajji pushes you to think and feel.. that made the performance.

<b2>Do you have strong convictions in real life?
(Pause) I usually speak only when I'm spoken to. But if there's something I feel strongly about, I'd definitely stand up for it.

Weren't you initially hesitant to accept a role which required you to play mother to an eight-year-old child?
Being a mother is only one aspect of the role, it's not the defining aspect.. I start out as Ajay's love interest. We get married and have a child. It's a natural prog ression of events.

Still it couldn't have been easy given that you're not even married.
(Laughs) I'm a big girl now. And don't all women have maternal instincts?

Did you know that Priyanka Chopra was the first choice for your role?

I heard about that much later, when we were halfway through the film. (Shrugs) Casting changes are a part of movie making.

With

Heyy Babyy

you tried to go glam. But for

Halla Bol

you've gone back to being boringly

desi

.


My character in the film is a small town girl who marries a struggling actor. Ashfaque goes on to become a superstar but Sneha retains her simplicity. Rajji was very clear about the look he wanted. Plain. A-line cotton kurtas.. nothing fitted or flashy.

I've always dressed up or dressed down depending on the character I'm playing. Parineeta was very Indian but glamorous while Lage Raho Munnabhai was casual, western chic. In Salaam-e-Ishq I was expected to look washed-out and traumatised after an accident.

You've been completed blanked out of the hoardings. It's surprising to find Pankaj Kapur on them and not the leading lady.
You'll have to speak to Rajji and the producer about publicity and strategy.

Last year there weren't too many power-packed performances from lead actresses. With the release being pushed ahead to January 11, haven't you lost out on the chance of making it to the nomination list, may be even winning an award?
Honestly, the thought hasn't crossed my mind. I want people to like the film.. identify with it.

<b3>Have you seen Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, a film you were offered but which Konkona Sen Sharma ended up with?
Yes, I've seen Laaga.. and it was hard to believe I wasn't a part of dada's (Pradeep Sarkar) film.

When so many Hindi filmmakers are wooing you with big projects what made you suddenly take off to Kolkata to shoot the Bengali film Mukti?
I'd done Bhalo Theko with the same director, Gautam Haldar. Although, I'm not a Bengali I was accepted with open arms. Mukti is my way of saying thank you to Gautamda and Bengal.

Also I could see myself in the character. Hansi is always smiling no matter what she goes through. She spreads sunshine.. (laughs) like I do.

Do you plan to do more Bengali films?
I'm comfortable with Bengal.. its language. I'm open to doing good cinema in any language. But my focus is Hindi films. Bollywood is home ground. Still, I'm no hurry to get anywhere. There's no rush.. no fears.. no insecurity. I want to enjoy my work at my own pace.