I’m happy with the 'Parineeta' image: Vidya Balan
She almost pinches herself, and then stops. “I really can’t take credit for the impact of my performance in Parineeta. If someone as awesome as Mr. Amitabh Bachchan thinks I’m a face to watch, I feel I’ve gone way beyond everyone’s expectations, including mine.”
That’s Vidya Balan. Petite, fragile and Saratchandra's 'Lolita' come to life in Pradeep Sarkar’s film. A Tamilian Iyer with roots in Kerala, she has made Mumbai her mecca now.
Vidya is stunned by the success of Parineeta. “Very frankly Dada (Pradeep Sarkar) was very sure he wanted only me for the role. His confidence really boosted mine. I had done 80-odd ads by the time I came to an acting career. But he was sure no one else could play Lolita. The producer Mr Vinod Chopra wanted a very well-known actress. He rightly thought she’d add to the commercial value of the film. I had to undergo several auditions before I was finalized. That did my ego a lot of good,” laughs Vidya with a tinkle in her tone that reminds you of how close she was to the role of Lolilta.
“The whole ambience created in Parineeta was such that I simply had to slip into the role without much effort. I’m often asked if I was intimidated by my co-stars Sanjay Dutt and Saif Ali Khan. Very frankly I was the pampered one one the sets. I was never made to feel like a newcomer.”
Vidya has become almost like a resident heroine in Vinod Chopra’s cinema. She’s part of Chopra’s sequel to Munnabhai MBBS and also his next directorial venture Yagna with Amitabh Bachchan in the lead.
“Luckily for me my next release will be Munnabhai Versus The Mahatma where I’ve a role completely antithetical to Parineeta.”
In the film Vidya plays a cool radio jockey. “And I dress up like any other metropolitan girl. Why can’t girls in our films dress up in character? Most of the time they’re shown wearing—or, not wearing—clothes that don’t suit the character.”
Not being a stranger to success Vidya is very sure about her dos and don’t’s. “If people have liked me in Parineeta it’s because I’m projected as typically Indian. I won’t try to shrug off that image just to be like the other girls. I’m aware that I’m perceived as demure and dignified after Parineeta. And that’s an image I’m happy with.”
Her experience in the world of ads has served her purpose well. “Yes I’ve done around 80 ads. Strangely the ones where a scooter has figured in my ads has always been noticed. I wonder why! I was never afraid of over-exposure because I never planned a career in films for my future. I did what came naturally to me. After college when I started getting offers to do ads I just did them because they seemed right. Now when I’m in films I’m doing what seems right at this stage of my life.”
Vidya’s elder sister and brother-in-law are also a part of the ad world. “Sometimes I feel I’ve two sets of parents. My sister and brother-in-law are more particular about how I go about my life than even my parents. It feels good to lead a sheltered life. Out here in showbiz everyone needs a support system really badly.”
Vidya’s tryst with cinema seems to have started a bit later than normal. “But I’m not here to be a teenybopper heroine. I’m looking for roles of substance,” says the multi-lingual classical heroine who can speak Malayalam (“I was offered a film in that language”), Tamil, Hindi, English…And after Parineeta I can also speak Bengali quite well. I’ve spent so much time with Bengalis that I feel I am one.”
What does she feel about Parineeta being constantly compared with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas? “That was bound to be. The same author…same ambience.. a similar romantic theme…I loved Madhuri Dixit in Devdas. I’m a huge fan of hers. If I can conduct my career with half her dignity and grace I’d have achieved more than what I had thought.”
Courtesy: Sify - Subhash K. Jha