Vidya Balan delivered five hits in a row with Paa, Ishqiya, No One Killed Jessica, The Dirty Picture and Kahaani. She won a Filmfare Award for four of these performances and a National Award for her nuanced portrayal of Silk Smitha in The Dirty Picture.
Days after winning the award, her film Kahaani opened to a warm response at the box office. The collections on Sunday were four times that of Friday. It was an unprecedented feat for a heroine-centric film and she was declared as a "Shero" and the "Fourth Khan".
What followed was a spell of duds at the box office. Ghanchakkar, Shaadi Ke Side Effects and Bobby Jasoos failed to make a mark and Balan began questioning her choices.
In an interview with Mumbai Mirror dated 5 November 2016, Vidya recalls, “Ghanchakkar was my first release after marriage and I felt guilty, personalizing its failure. Siddharth (Roy Kapur), more objective, told me it was ridiculous to feel that way.” Consequently, she decided not to work with her husband after Ghanchakkar as she chose not to put herself in a similar position again.
Balan took an eight-month sabbatical to introspect and zero in on the areas where she had faltered. She looks back at her state of mind at that time in the interview, "I went through the usual emotions of anger and fear before withdrawing into a shell and trying to figure out what had gone wrong, till I realized that despite the tags (attributed to her), success hadn't been mine alone, so why should I hold myself responsible for the failure?"
The grapevine was abuzz with rumours of her pregnancy during those eight months. But Balan kept mum and focused on her health issues instead. "Every doctor I visited reiterated that there was nothing clinically wrong with me, all I needed was to take it easy. I would take breaks between films, but my mind was always occupied. Finally, I realized I needed to stop being a super woman and just be a woman."
Balan admits that she prefers doing films at her own pace now and looks forward to the sequel of Kahaani. Now that she is more prepared for failure and more confident about success, her next is sure to be one of her best.
Kahaani 2 starring Vidya Balan and Arjun Rampal and directed by Sujoy Ghosh is slated to release on 2 December.