With her simple, girl-next-door looks and a sensuous smile, Vidya Balan has carved a niche for herself 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, 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 in her kitty, Bollywood actress Vidya Balan has come a long way. After becoming an overnight sensation in Bollywood with her maiden movie Parineeta, Vidya has, in some ways defined the 'new bold' in Indian cinema with stunning performances in Paa, Ishqiya, No One Killed Jessica, The Dirty Picture and Kahaani.
Vidya has broken the conventional heroine mould and is now ruling the charts in an otherwise male-dominated industry. The 31-year-old actress who was recently honoured by the government of India with the Padma Shri, 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 across the world and in India too," she says. With her new movie Bobby Jasoos slated for release on July 4, Vidya talks about how she allows her instinct to nudge her in choosing, and essaying the roles. Excerpts
The trailer of your new movie 'Bobby Jasoos' is now on Youtube. What is 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. The film is presented by Reliance Entertainment. It celebrates the aspiration of Bobby, who wants to become the top detective in Hyderabad. When they (the makers) told me that I was going to play the central character in the film, I immediately thought about the popular Indian detective Karamchand. As you know, Karamchand played by noted actor Pankaj Kapur was a popular Indian detective TV series that was telecast in the 1980s. It was one of India's first and biggest detective series. This movie is fittingly a tribute to Karamchand. I read the script, and had a few meetings with Samar and Sanyuktha Chawla (the script writer) to understand their vision, as this was a great concept. I immediately agreed to do this film. After the first trailer was launched, we got an overwhelming response. I am quite excited about the movie.
You are probably the first Bollywood actress to do the role of a female detective. How was the 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. The character Bobby talks in Hyderabad dialect. We had a workshop where I underwent a month long training with a person called Abbas Malik, and he trained me very well. It was tough to learn the language initially but I picked it up really well. We had great fun while shooting for the movie. I think this is one of the best roles I have done so far.
You seem to be the 'mistress of disguise' in this film. You are seen in 12 different guises. How difficult was it to portray various characters in the same film?
It was certainly a big challenge to enact the role of a detective. But it was an extremely enriching experience for me. An actor needs to be a good observer. I travel a lot and meet a lot of people. I love people and people really intrigue me. My work gives me a chance to get into other people's shoes all the time. So it wasn't difficult to disguise as different characters in the movie.
You experiment with every role. 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. (Laughs). I am a greedy actor and when anything exciting comes my way, I grab it with both hands. At the same time, I study the script very well because in order to articulate the emotions required onscreen, you need to understand the script well.
I have always tried to be true to the character because on camera you are living 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 understand the technicality. I am an actor and every time I face the camera, I give it my 100 per cent. If a script inspires me, I pounce on it.
You often play roles of brave and strong women. Are you similar 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 I have chosen the kind of roles I have. At the end of the day, I look forward to a sense of absolution and victory because we all live for that moment.
How are you balancing the roles of a homemaker and an actress?
(Laughs). It is quite interesting because my husband's family is very supportive of what I do. In fact, they 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 us belong to the same arena it's easier for us to work.
You have won a National award, five Filmfare awards, five Screen awards, and now the Padma Shri. Where can we see Vidya Balan in the next five years?
In hindsight, 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. When your writing is honoured doesn't it keep motivating you? It's the same with me.Every award keeps motivating me. It's this passion for my work that keeps me going. That's why I decided to continue acting even after marriage. I started my career in Bollywood and made a name. I dont know where I will be in the next five years because I do not like to predict my future. I just love to live in the moment, and I am enjoying every bit of acting. I will certainly be around, and will work on some of the best roles I am yet to do.