Vidya Balan: I choose characters for the irresistible power they exude
Actor Vidya Balan, who recently starred in Begum Jaan, says that women always feel a bit awkward about being successful and powerful and that makes her very angry ; adds that she wanted a role that would help her express that anger.bollywood Updated: May 05, 2017 14:58 IST
Actor Vidya Balan has never really followed any set norms; she has only broken stereotypes with her path-breaking characters and her unique portrayal of those characters. To an observer, the choice of films appears to be driven by a subconscious need to do something different and achieve a breakthrough. But Vidya says that she has never looked at it like that. “I don’t need a breakthrough. I don’t choose characters, they choose me,” she says, laughing. “I only wish to do roles that empower me. I choose roles that I find irresistible for the kind of power they exude.”
In two of her most acclaimed films, The Dirty Picture (2011) or Kahaani (2012), Vidya’s talent and her power as a woman was given free rein by the script. Strongly feeling that women today need to be more vocal and expressive about what they feel, Vidya says that she tries to build that connect through her roles.
“I think that as women, we always feel the need to compensate somewhere. We always feel a bit awkward about being successful and powerful. We feel we have to tone it down. That really makes me angry. We’re constantly told, ‘Don’t raise your voice, girls don’t do that.’ Even if we laugh loudly, we’re told the same. And that anger was pent up in me, which I hadn’t expressed because I was constantly suppressed. So I needed to play a role where I could vent and give expression to my anger,” she says of her latest film, Begum Jaan, in which she plays the lead.
There was a lot of angst in me. As a girl, I’ve always expressed anger at home but in the outside world, I’ve been cautious about expressing anger and then after becoming an actor, that much more [cautious]
This character, says Vidya, is something of what she’d like to be in real life. “She stands on her own feet, doesn’t depend on anyone and doesn’t need to lean on anyone’s shoulder. She is ready to put up a fight, even if she is all alone. That’s what this film gave me,” says Vidya. “There was a lot of angst in me. As a girl, I’ve always expressed anger at home but in the outside world, I’ve always been cautious about expressing anger, and then after becoming an actor, that much more [cautious]. I feel as a woman, you don’t want to seen as a screaming, ranting person. But gradually, I reached a point where I felt more comfortable about being myself — personally and publicly.”
Vidya has often said that she feels proud to be part of the change that Indian cinema is going through. Is Begum Jaan another addition to that stream of films? The actor says that it would be too presumptive to conclude that. “I don’t want to make any tall statements [here] about my acting or role but personally speaking, it’s one-of-a-kind films for me. That character has got attitude like what I’ve not seen before, on screen or off it, in any woman. Playing this part has helped me come to terms with my own power as a woman [and as a person].”
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