She's working with some of the best banners in the industry, and has occupied so much print space that one almost forgets that Vidya Balan has only had one Hindi film release — till now! Lage Raho Munnabhai, which releases today, is Balan's second film and her performance as Jhanvi, Munna's love interest, is going to be a true test of her range after her debut in Parineeta.
Balan is in the middle of a magazine photo shoot when I meet her, and most of the interview takes place while she is having her hair done. As we dodge around the blow dryer, Balan talks about her work and expectations from her second film.
"A lot of people said the second film is crucial. I use the fact that Parineeta did well and people liked me in it as a source of inspiration. I'm a diehard optimist, so I'd rather use the compliments, applause and awards as a source of encouragement rather than feel pressured," says the Chembur girl.
|Vidya Balan is working with some of the best banners in the industry|
She's also clear that audiences will watch
Lage Raho Munnabhai
for what it is, with or without her. "If Jhanvi is convincing, they will give her a chance," she says. Jhanvi is a radio jockey, and an intrinsic part of the story of the second in the
series. Balan actually spent time in radio stations understanding what radio jockeys do.
"I respect them so much more now. I used to think their job was so easy, because they sound so effortless. But when you watch them, you realise they are juggling a lot. They have to make each listener feel they are talking directly to them," says the actress.
Unlike in Parineeta, her character is a contemporary Mumbai girl, which Balan says she found "far easier to play". She also says that audiences will now see a different side of her. "After Parineeta people thought, and still think, that I am Bengali. Now they will see the Bambaiya side of me," says the Tamilian actress who studied at St Xavier's College, Mumbai.
Ask her about the spate of films she has signed and she modestly, and in practiced Bolly-speak, says, "I am extremely fortunate and blessed. Everyone has welcomed me with open arms. Sometimes I feel like all this is happening to someone else. Vinod Chopra launched me and gave me two films, but for Lage Raho… he was categorical that Raju (Hirani) had to test me for the part. So I did have to earn my place in the film."
Her forthcoming projects are vastly varied, from Nikhil Advani's Salaam-e-Ishq to Rajkumar Santoshi's Halla Bol, Mani Ratnam's Guru and a Priyadarshan film. She's clearly managed to avoid being typecast. "I was fortunate to get lots of offers after Parineeta but I was sure that I did not want to work non-stop. I just hope to work on good films with good people."
In the time she keeps aside for herself, Balan likes to read, watch movies and listen to music. "I used to watch a DVD a night, and recently got back into watching films and reading. I like to go the cinema, while I still can, and it's better than watching a film cooped up in a private screening room where you have to give your instant reaction at the end. I love going to classical music concerts too. Of late though, the music of Lage Raho… and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna have taken over everything, and when Mitwa plays, my hands go out like Shah Rukh Khan's."
Her hair done, Balan prepares for her next shot, posing and pouting perfectly for the camera. All images of Parineeta are completely dispelled.