Vidya Balan on her biggest learning curve, her Kolkata connection and why playing Silk was more difficult
There was a clamour for pictures the moment she alighted from her car and she patiently posed with each of her little fans (street kids, mostly). As soon as she was done with them, another bunch (this time mostly elderly women) came to her, blessed her and told her how much they love her. Despite a packed schedule, not once she tried to show impatience, greeting everyone with a huge smile, as if she has known them for ages. Vidya Balan actually has the magic wand to turn even her harshest critic into her fan. In a free-wheeling chat, Vidya talks about her search for her husband in ‘Kahaani’ and her deep connection with Kolkata
Excerpts from the interview:
Which was more difficult- Playing Silk or Vidya Bagchi?
It is difficult to compare as both are completely different personalities. Silk was over-the- top while Vidya Bagchi is very basic and understated. As an actor, I am not loud and Sujoy brought out this subtlety very well in ‘Kahaani’. Silk was so dramatically different from me and being her was such a different experience.
You were seen in the character’s get-up while promoting ‘Kahaani’ and ‘Dirty Picture’. Why is it important to market the character along with the film?
It is important to associate the character with the film and the moment people see you in that look, they can immediately connect. I have played different roles and each one had a distinct look and I did that for 'Paa', 'Ishqiya', 'No One Killed Jessica' and 'Dirty Picture'. Carrying the look during promotions helps the audience to derive an association with the film.
See: Vidya sells tickets
How difficult was it to play a pregnant woman?
Well, I played pregnant before playing dirty (laughs). Having a prosthetic stomach helped my gait and it was a bit difficult to sit as it put pressure on my lower back. I guess it came naturally to carry the baby bump. While shooting, I had stopped at a tea-stall which was run by a 80-year-old woman. She didn’t know who I was and had never seen a film in her life. On seeing me, she sat me down, gave me tea and water and advised me on my advanced state of pregnancy. That was touching.
Your association with Kolkata goes back to your ‘Bhalo Theko’ days. How was your experience this time?
I have a deep connection with the city and my mother says that there is a past life connect with Kolkata. I know the language, I can speak and sing and I watch a lot of Bengali films. Shooting 'Kahaani' in Kolkata was like a homecoming for me. I knew most of the people on the sets from ‘Bhalo Theko’.
You have proved that you don’t need a hero for a successful film. Is running around the trees not your cup of tea anymore?
Well, nobody runs around the trees anymore. I am happy with the roles I am getting and am open to all kinds of roles. But they have to have meat in them for me to bite into.
Watch the making of 'Kahaani'
From 'Paa' to 'Ishqiya' to 'Dirty Picture' and now 'Kahaani', you have experimented with roles. Have you reached a phase when you keep asking yourself ‘what next?’
No, not yet. I have got more than I have ever wished and there is no point in getting worried about anything else. I choose to do one or two films per year as I like to invest time and passion into each film. Lot of exciting things are happening in Hindi cinema and there is no dearth of good work. The stories that are being written and the roles being offered are quite different.
Watch: Kolkata unplugged
After Parineeta, you had done films like ‘Heyy Baby’ and ‘Kismat Konnection’ which didn’t fare well at the box-office. Do you term them as mistakes?
All films I have worked hard for have fared well at the box-office. Even the other films did well, though not for me. But if I look back, the ratio has been pretty decent.
You seem to have a magic wand, when it comes to box-office success, what had been your biggest learning curve?
There has been quite a few but the most important thing is to accept yourself. If you do that then people also accept you and this applies to life as well. I feel the same amount of excitement and nervousness before my films releases but they don't stress me out anymore. I don’t read newspapers, I don’t watch TV, and so I have no reason to be stressed.
Here's all about 'Kahaani'