After playing a series of power-packed serious roles like Begum Jaan, the versatile Vidya Balan will be seen in her element in the upcoming film Tumhari Sulu, slated for release on November 17 in Pakistan. And with the cross-border relations going through slightly less volatile times, I was happy to have a one-on-one conversation with the her.
The Dirty Picture star spoke with a smile in her voice, warm like someone I had known for years instead of an elusive movie star.
Then again, that’s the Vidya we’ve known for years. She’s the woman who stands out in Bollywood’s miniskirt clad, surgically altered milieu as she opts for traditional saris, embracing herself, happy in her skin.
Vidya is the dynamic actress who can be the cinematic siren at one point, the besotted heroine the next and then, the woman with vengeance. Talking about variety, she’s about to become the garrulous Sulu, a typical suburban housewife who discovers an alternate career as a radio jockey.
Many of her movies have become iconic (Dirty Picture and Ishqiya) and her performances are invariably riveting. It is no wonder then Vidya is immediately familiar to me as the airwaves carry our conversation back and forth, easily traversing our barbed borders…
Images: So you have Tumhari Sulu coming up and it seems like a lighthearted role, different from the serious movies that you have been acting in lately. What brought about this change of heart?
Vidya: There hasn’t been any change of heart. I enjoy playing characters, regardless of whether the movie is serious or lighthearted. I am a very greedy actor. I want to play distinctive roles in human dramas, to enact characters that allow me to live different lives, tell different stories. I would love to act in a lighthearted love story. Personally, I am a sucker for hope and I enjoy happy endings. Some of my favourite movies are the ones directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, with their characteristic feel-good values.
So, Sulu is an interesting character. She is a regular homemaker but has a zest for life that leads her to try different things, eventually landing her a role as a late-night RJ. When the movie’s director Suresh Triveni offered the role to me, he narrated it in such detail that I could see Sulu come to life before my eyes and I knew that I would take on the role.
Sometimes the simpler characters are the toughest ones, where it is up to the actor to recreate a minor moment with drama. That’s the kind of character Sulu is.
Images: You are an exceptional actor and your love for your craft is visible in the work you do. Do you take interest in the making of your movies to ensure they are directed in a certain way?
Vidya: Not at all. I only sign on to a movie if I have complete faith in the director’s abilities and I am happy to do my part while they do theirs.
Images: There was a time when you dabbled with Western-wear but for quite some time now we’ve constantly been seen you in saris. Unlike many actresses, you also haven’t tried to alter your natural skin colour by cosmetic means or surgeries. Is this because you feel comfortable by dressing in this particular way?
Vidya: I have always been a casual dresser and even when I was studying, I would wear jeans with kurtas and basic cotton shalwar kameez. I did try out different styles of dressing at the onset of my acting career because people kept telling me that this is the way a heroine should dress. But those looks never really worked for me and I feel much more comfortable now that I wear clothes that are an extension of my personality.