With her simple and girl-next-door looks with a sensuous smile, Vidya Balan has already carved a niche in Indian cinema.
The popular Bollywood actress talks to NISHAD PADIYARATH about her upcoming movie Bobby Jasoos, the challenges she faced over the last nine years years, her successful run at the box-office and being a married actress.
WITH a national award, five Filmfare awards, five Screen awards and a Padma Shri, Bollywood actress Vidya Balan has come a long way. From becoming an overnight sensation in Bollywood with her first movie Parineeta, Vidya in some ways defines the New Bold in Indian cinema with some stunning performances in films like Paa, Ishqiya, No One Killed Jessica, The Dirty Picture and Kahaani.
Vidya has broken the conventional heroine mould time and is now ruling the charts in an otherwise male dominated industry. The soft-spoken actress who was recently honoured by the government of India with the fourth highest civilian award says she is happy to be the face of the change. “We were being submissive to heroes. I am now being offered roles where the heroine has an identity of her own. It reflects what is happening everywhere in the world and in our country too,” she says. With her new movie Bobby Jasoos slated for release on July 4, Vidya talks on how she allows her gut-level responses to nudge her in choosing and essaying her roles.
Excerpts from the interview
The trailer of your new movie Bobby Jasoos has become viral on Youtube. What is so special about this movie?
Bobby Jasoos is a detective film directed by Samar Shaikh and produced by Dia Mirza and Sahil Sangha for Born Free Entertainment’s. The film is presented by Reliance Entertainment. The film celebrates the aspiration of Bobby, who wants to become the number one detective in the city of Hyderabad. When they (the makers) told me that I am going to do the central character Bobby in the film, what I immediately thought was about the popular Indian detective Karamchand. As you know, Karamchand played by noted actor Pankaj Kapur was a popular Indian detective TV series telecast in the 1980s. It was one of India’s first and biggest detective series. This movie is fittingly a tribute to Karamchand. I took the script with me, read it, and had a few meeting with Samar and Sanyuktha Chawla the script writer to understand their vision as this was a great concept. I never thought twice and agreed to do this film. Soon after the first trailer was launched, we got overwhelming response from everyone. I am quite excited about the movie when it is released on July 4.
You are probably the first Bollywood actress to do the role of a female detective. Normally, detective genre is dominated by men in both Hollywood and Bollywood with women being relegated to playing the sidekick. How was this experience of playing the central character in this film?
Frankly, I never thought someone would want to make a film about a female detective. It was an exciting subject and I connected to the story intuitively. You know, the character Bobby talks in Hyderabad dialect and we had a workshop where I underwent a month long training with a person called Abbas Malik and he trained me so well. It was tough to learn the language initially but I picked up really well. The shooting of the film was complete fun. I think this is one among the best roles I have done so far.
You seem to be the ‘mistress of disguise’ in this film. You are coming in 12 different guises. How difficult was that to portray various characters in the same film.
It was certainly a big challenging to do the role of a detective. But it was an extremely enriching experience for me. An actor needs to be a good observer and I am someone who travels a lot and meet a lot of people. I love people and people really intrigue me. My work just gives me a chance to get into other people’s shoes all the time. So it wasn’t difficult to disguise in many roles in the movie.
Having closely watched all your movies, what I have observed is that you are doing experiments with every role you get. At the same time you have certainly set a benchmark with every performance. Is there any pressure to surpass it each time you do a new film?
That is a tough one to answer. I am a greedy actor and when anything exciting comes on my way, I grab it with both the hands. At the same time, I study the script very well because in order to articulate the emotions on screen of what that character needs, you need to understand the script well. I have always tried to be true to the character because on camera you living on someone else’s life. Honestly, there is never any pressure or rather I have never felt any. And when it comes to the box-office, I don’t count on the number of hits I had because I just don’t understand the technicality. I am just an actor and every time when I face camera I have always given my 100 per cent. If a script of a director can inspire me, I jump on to it.
You often play roles of brave and strong women. Are you like this in your real life?
You know, I grew-up with a belief that I am bigger than the biggest challenge. That has certainly made me strong and that could be the reason why I have chosen the kind of roles I have. At the end of the day, I look forward to a sense of vindication and victory because we all live for that moment.
How are you balancing the roles as a homemaker and as an actress?
It is quite interesting because my husband’s family is very supportive of what I do. They in fact encourage me to act. Acting is something I enjoy the most. My husband Siddarth Roy Kapoor is quite passionate about films and since both of belong to the same arena it makes it much easier for us to work.
You know, I grew-up with a belief that I am bigger than the biggest challenge. That has certainly made me strong and that could be the reason why I have chosen the kind of roles I have.
A national award, five Filmfare awards, five Screen awards and now the country has honoured you with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award. Looking back how do you see it all coming? Where can we see Vidya Balan in the next five years?
Looking back, I never thought I would reach this level. That is an honest revelation. Initially, like everyone else, I too had my ups and downs. You have a passion towards your work and your best writing gets honoured and that keeps motivating you don’t you? It’s the same with me as well. Every award keeps motivating me. It’s this passion for my work that helps me keeps going and that is why even after marriage, I decided to act. This (Bollywood) is where I started my career and made by name. I dont know where I will be in the next five years because I just simply do not like to predict my future. I just love to live this moment and I am enjoying every bit of my acting. But, yes I will be certainly around you all and will try and come out with some of the best roles I am yet to do.