In Vidya Balan, we finally have a realistic and spunky Bollywood star to look up to
There's no dearth of witty repartee when it comes to Vidya Balan.
In a live Firstpost interview with the actor, she mentioned how she would dub for her upcoming film Begum Jaan early in the morning, at 10 am, in order to get a deep, bass morning voice. When she didn't get the response she was hoping for, she proceeded to say, "Well 10 am is early morning for me." Such a refreshing admission at a time when publicists will bombard you with stories about 'professional' actors who start working at 5 am.
Allow me to give you another example.
While talking about the state of mind that an actor goes through while filming a tough film like Begum Jaan (she plays a brothel madam in the film), she informed us about how the film was shot in Jharkhand in the summer, when temperatures would touch 46 degrees. On being asked what her state of mind was while filming The Dirty Picture, she said, "I was seeing Siddharth (Roy Kapur) then."
Balan effortlessly switches between sounding very serious, and holding her own during intense conversations, and being a complete sass queen.
She can speak eloquently about feminism in one moment, and sway her hips to the seductive song 'Ooh la la' in another. Unlike a lot of other Bollywood actresses, who have their own ideas and definitions of what feminism is (including the omnipresent stereotype of bra-burning activities and how it's essentially women 'trying to be men'), Vidya's take on an oft misinterpreted movement is candid and refreshing.
She says, "Feminism for me is being able to live life the way you want to. My character in Begum Jaan is a feminist in that sense. She also smashes patriarchy by using men for her advantage."
But most of all, the biggest reason why Vidya Balan is (there's no other way to say this) awesome is because she's so unabashed about being herself.
Whether it is dressing how she likes (she rocks the sari like no other actress in the industry), to saying what she wants ("I often say things I shouldn't") and doing what she wants, there's nobody quite like her. Her latest two films, Kahaani 2 and Begum Jaan saw Balan completely shed any trace of vanity, and succumb to the role fully.
For Kahaani 2, she mentioned how often she would be shot from different angles and she would have to make do with the odd double chin shot appearing in the larger interest of the film. In Begum Jaan, she was asked to stop grooming herself and maintain a natural looking face. Compare this to an actress who reportedly spent Rs 55 lakhs on just her hair, for a film that was already struggling with its budget.
Don't get me wrong — both types of 'acting' exists in Bollywood and one shouldn't judge vanity in an industry that champions it, but as far as role models are concerned, Vidya Balan is a sure-shot winner. It's easy to give aspiring actresses Balan's example, because she has — in my humble opinion — the perfect balance between respect and success.
Here's a girl from Chembur, Mumbai, who started her career in ads, rose to fame with Balaji's Hum Paanch, and cemented her position by furthering acting and not agendas. She's constantly been attacked for her fashion choices and yet looks resplendent outside of a film set. She has a impressive filmography behind her and regardless of age, gender, marital status and moral policers, she's still roaring to go.
It's rare to find actresses like Balan or Radhika Apte, who are completely comfortable with their sexuality. On screen, we've seen Balan own her sensuality in The Dirty Picture, but it's the anecdote from the Firstpost live interview that will really make you smile. When she was asked how she would deal with a costar who flirts, she said, "if a costar hits on me, I'll flirt back." When she was asked if all this flirting happened before or after her marriage, she said, "Oh much before. If it was after, I wouldn't be so open about it."
Balan is a self-proclaimed optimist. On being questioned about the fickle journey of a Bollywood star and the fear of waning popularity, she said, "It's not like I don't think about it. But I would like to believe my popularity will only grow with my age."
We sincerely hope so too; there's no reason why it shouldn't.
Watch Firstpost's Live interview with Vidya Balan here.