Hers was the most sensational entry in Bollywood in recent times. But when you start on a high like that it′s difficult to maintain the momentum and keep up with the expectations. Perennial Parineeta girl Vidya Balan came up with one noteworthy performance after another but it was only her sartorial sense that got talked about. She′s back on a high though after Paa and Ishqiya and is talked about for what she can do best; act. Some critics are even saying that she′s gone beyond Parineeta with her gray-tinted role in Ishqiya, a feat not many thought once possible. Vidya smiles at the comparison and says, “I am happy if people think that way although it′s difficult to compare the two roles. They have both been challenging and hugely satisfying roles, and have come at the right time in my career; ‘Parineeta’ being the debut of course. All I can say is I am touched by all the positive feedback I have got and feel truly blessed.”
It′s not only positive feedback Vidya has received but also a bagful of awards this season for her portrayal in Paa. That must be reassuring as well. “Yes I am absolutely thrilled by the awards this year,” she admits. “It means a lot to me and also the pat on the back by industry people and the audiences who are telling me that I must be doing something right,” she smiles. So is there a certain grudge about being dished out flak over and over again in the last few years, not for her acting skills but possibly everything else? Does she feel she has proven a point to her detractors? “I am not the one to hold grudges neither do I want to prove a point to anyone,” she says categorically. “As you say I have not received flak for acting, but my outfits, sense of style, my weight, you name it,” she bursts out laughing. “That I could cope with after a point. Initially it was hard to think why were people singling me out for criticism, and I got a lot of flak. But if people were to start criticizing my acting, I′d have been shattered,” she says honestly. “Because at the end of the day that′s what I am here for. Thankfully that hasn′t largely happened. And I will try and make sure it stays that way,” she laughs.
Vidya Balans most popular films
And we believe she won′t even have to try that hard, as she′s known as one of the few actresses in the heroine brigade, who has always attempted something different. And that′s probably why she gets considered for meatier roles like Paa and Isqhiya. Does she feel her risk taking has borne dividends? “See, I don′t really see doing films as Paa or Ishqiya as risks. They are the films I wanted to be associated with right from the word go and loved my roles in them. I am glad people thought likewise. It′s not for me to say what others are doing or should do; I do films that excite me. And even if you see them as risks, it′s easier for me because I have had nothing to lose,” she says with her refreshing candor. “When I did Parineeta I thought myself lucky enough to do just that one film. It was after so many false starts and rejections that I was realizing my dream of acting in a full length movie. It′s all been a huge bonus after that,” she says gratefully.
Despite tide turning her way again in the last couple of months Vidya seems in no rush to sign films by the dozen to make hay while the Sun shines. She′s working on Sanjay Bhansali produced Chenab Gandhi, which was announced last year and Aamir maker Raj Kumar Gupta′s No One Killed Jessica. Isn′t Vidya in a rush to sign more films, given that tide can change any time? “I have never been in a rush,” she says casually. “Not just while signing films but in general I am quite a calm and contented person. Doesn′t mean I am laidback and I don′t have the hunger to do good work, but I am quite happy to do it at my own pace. I feel if I start working non-stop I will be compromising on many things, like my health, my personal life and when that starts happening it reflects on your work. So that′s really a no win situation. I am not in this profession for money, so why would I be in a rush to sign films left, right and centre?” she asks.
Her next film No One Killed Jessica based on the Jessica Lall case is like to cause a stir and raise a few uncomfortable questions. Does Vidya feel by doing a film like that she′s taking a stand? “We aren′t making the film to make a social statement,” she says point blank. “What happened during the case was phenomenal; people′s power was invoked and that′s something special right there. We are hoping to do justice to the story with our movie and given the sensibilities of my director Raj Kumar, who has already proven himself as a talent with Aamir. I am convinced we are on the right track.” Given her celebrity status though, does Vidya believe she can make a difference to the masses by taking a stand? “Why just a celebrity, anyone can make a difference to the society by being the difference themselves. And if you believe in something strongly, there is no reason why you should stop from voicing your opinion,” she states wisely. “I agree being a celebrity it′s easier to make your voice hear and people are doing that in whatever way they can. If I believe in something strongly I will take a stand, and it′s not because one wants to gain publicity out of it. As actors we do get written about anyways, so I wouldn′t be the one to question anyone′s motives behind taking up a cause,” she adds.
On a more personal note, Vidya is serious about her exercise regime as much as a personal cause itself. She laughs at the connection and says, “Yes I work out pretty regularly and I enjoy doing it as well. I have had enough comments about my weight problems,” she chuckles. “No but I seriously enjoy it, and look at it as relaxation, like I do yoga as well. It helps me breathe easy and be in a better place with myself,” she says. And given her current run, why shouldn′t she be?