Interview with Bollywood star Vidya Balan, who recently created headlines in ‘No one Killed Jessica’. Within a few years of her feature debut Parineeta, she is now one of the most sought-after actresses in Bollywood. Some of her later movies were Lage Raho Munna Bhai,Guru,Ishqiya, Kismat Konnection, Hey Baby, Paa etc. Vidya was in Melbourne recently for the Indian Film Festival 2011 – Bollywood and Beyond organised by the Mind Blowing Films. SAT Editor Neeraj Nanda caught up with Vidya Balan on 11 th March 2011 at the Hotel Cullen, Prahran. Some of the question inputs are by Prashant Tandon, senior journalist in New Delhi. Excerpts from the interview:
Q: A Kerala born girl from a Tamil speaking family…you speak Hindi like Dilliwallas. How come?
A: I was born and brought up in Mumbai and my parents hail from Kerala. That is the reason why I speak Hindi well. I always liked Hindi and my neighbours in Mumbai were Punjabis. I used to talk to them in Hindi. But could not pick up Punjabi. I speak Bengali, a bit of Marathi, Malyalum and some Gujarati.
Q: You had a long struggle in TV and Ad. Films and then came success with hit movies, awards etc…How do you feel about it?
A: It was a wonderful journey. I have worked in all mediums. Whether it is advertising, regional films, music videos and then came Hindi movies. I had the opportunity of working with good people.
Q: So, do you remember those advertising films?
A: Off course. There are a few ads which are still on. People remember them. This makes me happy.
Q: From “Parineeta’ to ‘No One Killed Jessica’ you did a variety of roles. Was it by chance or deliberate?
A: It was a combination of both. I always want to do something new in a movie. I do not want to repeat myself. As an actress I have the thirst to do something new. It is a bit of chance and choice.
Q: What was your reaction when you got the chance to become Amitabh Bachchan’s mom in ‘Paa’?
A: First, I got scared. I was not sure whether I want to do this at this stage of my career. The director. said if you do not come then I will not make the movie. I thought he thinks I can do it. So, I agreed. Thank god I did it.
Q: Such a big star was acting with you. What satisfaction did you get working with Amitabh Bachchan?
A: Everyone wants to work with him. I keep joking that I will tell my kids that your eldest brother was Amitabh Bachchan.
Q: In Jessica and Parineeta you did non glamorous roles. But the current rage is of ‘Munni badnam hui’ and ‘Sheela Ki Jawani’. Aren’t u scared of such roles?
A: ‘Munni badnam hui’ because there is a ‘Parineeta’ . People understand the meaning of my ‘badnami’. I comes because it is a contrast.
Q: When you took the ‘Jessica’ role did u read the Jessica case?
A: Only a little bit. My character was based on a script. Anyway, I was reading in the newspapers over the years.
Q: Similar cases are still happening. How do you react to that?
A: I feel terrible about such cases and also feel afraid. But also feel that I am fortunate to have a protected life. It can be very scary for a woman. I only pray such incidents reduce more and more.
Q: How was it to be that abusive, dhoti clad eastern UP women in Ishikya?
A: I loved it. She was a bold woman on her own. In that role even swearing was a ‘maza’. This is these peoples language. We feel it bad but it is part of their language.
Q: So, you became expert in this type of language?
A: Even if I am an expert, I do not get a chance to use it.
Q: In Google there are thousands of entries about you with all sorts of stuff. How do you react to that?
A: Earlier, I used to feel bad about it. Lots of rumours and one was about M. F. Hussain was to … Earlier, I was effected by such things for days together, but now it cools down fast.
Q : Are you net savvy?
A: Not at all. I work or see the net.
Q: Many Indian girls in Australia want to be in Bollywood. What do you say to them?
A: If you want to become an actor it is not that difficult. One has to overcome the struggles that one comes across. Neverstart unbelieving yourself. People say it is a bad place. But that is not true. You can make it a good place, anyway.
SOURCE: SAT, March 2011.