Wednesday, 14 March 2012

“I make movies to make myself happy. Nothing is more important.” - Vidya

 
Three years ago, a career which had begun promisingly enough was on the wane and Vidya Balan was considering chucking it all in.  There then came acclaimed roles in films such as Ishqiya and No One Killed Jessica Lal and of course the critical and commercial success of the sensational ‘The Dirty Picture’.
Balan’s terrific portrayal of the beautiful and tragic south Indian siren Silk Smitha garnered numerous accolades including this year’s prestigious National Film Award for Best Actress.
It has also led to Balan being recognized as Bollywood’s most talented and versatile actress, head and shoulders above her contemporaries.
Her latest role, as Vidya Bagchi in Sujoy Ghosh’s ‘Kahani’ continues in the same vein.  Balan plays a woman who arrives in Kolkata from the UK in search of her husband who has disappeared off the face of the planet.   Heavily pregnant yet determined, Vidya has to contend with the city’s teeming chaos and a suspicious and disobliging public.
The film is an intense ride with a sublime twist that will shock and thrill audiences and is certain to earn many more plaudits for Balan.
The actress spoke to Poonam Joshi about play acting, strong-willed females and a fascinating career.
It’s a terribly intense film.  What was it like playing this character on an emotional level?  
Physically it was a little demanding because I had to carry around this weight around my midriff but it wasn’t an intense experience.  I would say it was an incredibly liberating experience to go through a little bit of the anxiety that a woman would feel in a situation like this.  On a more practical level, the shoot was intense.  We would shoot for 3 or 4 days continuously because we had to keep the budget in check.  But it wasn’t emotional at all because the amazing thing about this character is that she has not lost her spirit; she is not helpless or hopeless, she is very hopeful, she is very positive, she’s got her smile intact, and I found that incredibly inspiring.  And it was entirely plausible because I know so many women who would react exactly the same way – remain positive and determined – faced with a dilemma like this.
You stayed in character whilst promoting the film...carrying around a baby bump...did people find that strange...?
No they didn’t as a matter of fact.  Actually, people seem to accept it as the sort of thing that I would do.  Also, it’s amazing that in this day and age a lot of information is overlooked.  There are so many films released every week and filmmakers need to think a little outside the box sometimes to draw people’s attention.  The easiest way to do that is by appearing in character.  It worked a treat!
Did anyone actually mistake you for being pregnant for real?
During the shoot it happened constantly.  In the small lanes and alleyways people would look at me and smile sweetly and their attention would be drawn to my stomach and they always had this look of total surprise!  Sometimes I would even play along!
You’re making a habit of playing strong, female leads.  Is this something that you consciously choose to do?  Strong-willed female characters aren’t exactly popular in Bollywood cinema...
I think that the strong female lead is becoming increasingly popular.  That’s the reality of the age and cinema must – and I think it does – reflect that.  And women are inherently, extremely strong so when someone asks why I play such characters I tell them that women are strong anyway and I don’t know them any other way.
And from playing strong, independent women, you’re going straight into doing an item number for Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Ferrari ki Sawari.  Contradictory...
It was fun!  It’s a combination of two forms of folk dance that I’ve tried in this which is Koli and Lavani.  It was great fun and I always wanted to do this because the moves are very aggressive and the face oozes sensuality.  It’s all enhanced by the fact that the woman is fully clothed – from head to toe.  It was also a chance to celebrate Mumbai, an ode of sorts to the city that I grew up in.  The greatest city on the planet!  Although I’m a little biased.
The evolution of your career has been really interesting to watch.
You’re arguably the best actress in Bollywood today; does that put pressure on you?  
I’m incredibly humbled.  I take expectation as a form of encouragement; having said that, I find happiness in my work, working to enjoy myself.  I always give it a hundred percent and try to be honest towards my work.  Beyond that it’s really up to powers that are beyond my control so I don’t bother too much with it.  I always hope that if I’m being honest and giving my best shot people will hopefully enjoy watching me and connect with what I play on screen.
Since 2009 your career’s been on this terrific upward curve.  The two years prior to that were much more difficult.  How did you cope with that and how did that shape you as an actor?
There were moments when I thought of giving it up, because I thought I was not fit for the film industry.  I was constantly questioning myself; maybe I didn’t have it in me, maybe I couldn’t cope with this space.
But I’m someone of immense faith and belief.  My faith is stronger than everything else in my life put together.  My faith in my own ability, my faith in the Universe, in a supreme power, in humanity and my passion to be these different people on the screen; that faith overpowers any moments of doubt.  I think I’m thankful to God for having tested me.  Clarity is incredibly important for anyone and if there’s one thing that that period gave me it was clarity.  It’s important if you are to accurately appraise your self-worth and that’s the most important thing.  Everyone needs to believe in themselves.
‘Kahani’ is now cinemas.
- Interviewed by Poonam Joshi

“I make movies to make myself happy. Nothing is more important.” - Vidya

No comments:

Post a Comment