Vidya Balan - The Eternal Optimist
Femina|April 24, 2019

If one had to talk about actors who refuse to succumb to stereotypes, vidya balan would be the first to come to mind. In her 14-year career, she has proved her mettle multiple times, and has become a force to reckon with. Nikshubha garg talks to her about films, marriage, changing dynamics of the business, and more.

Her smile is infectious, the positive vibes she exudes are contagious, and her on-screen performances never fail to disappoint. Vidya Balan is undoubtedly one of the finest actors in Bollywood, who continues to be relevant even today. From essaying the sensitive Lolita in Parineeta (2005) and the bold Silk Smitha in The Dirty Picture (2011), to the reticent doctor-mother in Pa (2009) and a revenge seeking pregnant widow in Kahaani (2012), there is little that this artist can’t do. Yet, she has her head on her shoulders, and isn’t trying too hard to fit into a box. Excerpts from a conversation with the star.

Vidya Balan today is synonymous with being ‘unapologetically herself’. Where does the confidence come from?

With age, experience, and maturity, you realise that there is just one of you. So, if you don’t accept yourself, you are going to spend an entire lifetime rejecting you. Also, my family has always made me feel like I am the best thing to have happened to me. Growing up, I didn’t realise the importance of this thought, but now, I know it’s so precious.

You have been body-shamed and also received flak for your dress sense several times. Do you think Bollywood continues to have set ideas of beauty?

It’s changing. I would like to believe that I am doing both, experiencing the change and participating in it, as are all of us who are comfortable in our own skin. Not just in Bollywood, but even in general, there is a set perception of what qualifies as beautiful or desirable. But like I said, that’s changing, and it’s wonderful.

Are female actors finally getting their due, since 2018 proved to be a great year for women-led films?

In 2008, when I did Ishqiya, it was probably the only ‘female-centric’ film being made at the time. In 11 years, much has changed, and many more such films have seen success. Very soon, we will not even need to tag films as ‘female centric’. Are we doing better? Most definitely. It’s not just a phase, this change is here to say. At some point, you will just go in to watch a film, and whether the protagonist is male or female won’t matter.

If a biopic had to be made on your life, who would you want to feature in the film?

Me, I am still around! (Laughs) And the technology to make me look younger exists. I wouldn’t let anyone else play me. No chance.

Among the current lot of actresses, who do you admire the most and why?

I enjoy Alia Bhatt’s work a lot, especially the choices she makes. Acting comes so naturally and effortlessly to her. Besides her, Taapsee Pannu is doing some definitive work and I am waiting to see what Janhvi Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan do. Amongst my contemporaries, Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma, and Bhumi Pednekar are doing interesting work.

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