Vidya Balan is an actress who is known for delivering some spectacular performances and content-driven films. Both, fans and critics have always appreciated the gorgeous actress for her flawless acting. She amazed us with her movies like Kahaani, Begum Jaan, and Kahaani 2 to name a few.
Recently, we caught up with the very beautiful Vidya where she spoke about the failure of her previous films, star and content-driven films, CBFC and much more! Now, Vidya is all geared up for her upcoming slice of life film, Tumhari Sulu. After doing some serious films, she is back with a fun film as Sulu. She’s pretty, she’s witty, she’s fun!
Excerpts from the interview:
After playing such emotionally challenging characters, your last two films Kahaani 2 and Begum Jaan, Tumhari Sulu is something very fluffy. So how was it this time?
You know this is not fluffy at all. This is a happy film. This was refreshing for me to do. Because like you said that I have been doing the emotionally heavy films. When this came to me, I just felt like… You know in my personal life I smile and laugh a lot. So finally I was given a role where I could smile and laugh like myself. And I just felt that it is a happy film. I don’t know if someone asks me what genre is this! One can say it is a slice of life film but for me, it is just a happy film. That’s why people have been seeing the trailer and saying, ‘Main na muskuraa rahi thi dekhte waqt or I just kept smiling through out.’ But in that sense I am saying that it is not fluffy because fluffy makes it sound like there is no substance, there is substance to it. It is about a housewife… I don’t like the term housewife, so we will call it homemaker, who lands herself a job as a late night RJ. And you know you never imagined that there could actually be a housewife sitting behind the mic and saying ‘hello’ and talking to you in a sexy, sensuous, sultry tone. So that for me was very interesting. The fact that she almost has got two different personalities. And for her, nothing is impossible. She is ready to try everything. That’s the spirit she has. She is just one of those who will not say no to any experience. So, I just loved how…she is a regular woman who is doing this show, very intimate show, invariably where you get male callers that to lonely male callers (laughs). But she brings her own brand of humor to it. She is so herself…she is such an unique piece (laughs) I loved it.
You know Sulu is a homemaker as you said in the film. Do you think in the real-life homemakers aren’t given due respect, we don’t take them seriously.
I think so! I don’t think they also take them seriously. I have heard so many women’s saying that, ‘main sirf housewife hu’… Sirf housewife ka kya matlab? You know I was in the 4th standard when my class teacher had told us that you should always say thank you to your mother after a meal, you should always tell her the food was good because you know no one appreciates mothers and no one appreciates people who stays at home. Because uske liye paise nahi milte na toh value nahi hai. Value is only measured in terms of money. So when a woman doesn’t make money because she sits at home, there is no value for it. So I remember then inculcating… I used to go and say thank you and sorry to my mother for everything. And my mother at some point said, ‘What is this?’ I said, ‘No no! I just want to say thank you for everything because my teacher had taught me that.’ Uska matlab tabhi samjh me nahi aaya, bade hone ke baad jo mere teacher ne kaha uska asli matlab samjh aaya because housewives or homemakers have no value and therefore they don’t value themselves also.
Do you relate to Sulu’s character so much? So was it easy to play the character on-screen?
I related to her very easily and I understood where she was coming from because I come from a middle-class family. My mother stayed home and she also would want to do something. She is someone who constantly tries on new things. But I think understanding is one thing and playing that person is another thing. That brings with it its own set of challenges especially because in a film like this which is very realistic but fun…I think the simpler stuff is more difficult to do, more difficult to explain or express, more difficult to portray. So the simplicity, I think if at all there was anything, it was that. Because when it is high drama, you know how to do it. The more simpler stuff becomes challenging.
You know you have played an RJ before in Lage Raho Munnabhai and now you are playing an RJ once again. How different was it this time?
Like night and day (laughs)! Because Jahnvi does a morning show and Sulu does a night show. Unka bolne ka tarika, unki energy levels, everything is different. And Jahnvi & Sulu are at different stages of their lives. Jahnvi is more energetic, she woke you up in the morning, and she was like a sunflower. This one is a raat ki rani (laughs). You know singing songs to you sweetly in a sultry way. So, it is completely different and their personalities are also very different. At that time I used to feel that my personality matches with Jahnvi’s personality but I guess now after 11 years my personality has also evolved. So now I feel that I identify completely with Sulu. Not completely but I identify a lot with her.
If you had to imbibe a trait from Sulu, what would that be?
Main kar sakti hai! Sab kuch try karne ko taiyaar hai… (Laughs) one thing common between us is the pagalpan (laughs). But vo trait ‘main kar sakti hai!’, that I would I love to imbibe.
There’s a scene in the trailer where Sulu says ‘mujhe pressure cooker ke jagah par TV mil sakta hai kya?’ So have you ever come across a situation like this in your teenage years or someone you know have done something of this sort?
Nahi aisa kabhi nahi hua. Maine kisi radio show pe kabhi call nahi kiya. Also because when I was growing up, radio was not that big. But I remember my parents say that when I went to school for my nursery class interview and after the interview, the principal gave me a chocolate, toh mene kaha, ‘meri behen ke liye?’ (Laughs) so, yes that is the closest that I can think of.
You know your last two films didn’t do that well at the box office. Though the content was great. So were you disheartened by the failure?
For sure! It is heartbreaking. When you give so much… But luckily after Begum Jaan I didn’t have time only to think about it. Because Tumhari Sulu was starting in 12 days. On the day of release I was sitting with Suresh Triveni, so I didn’t get time to even think about it. I think it was a boon (laughs). Nahi toh soch soch ke bahut rona aata hai…
But what do you think is the reason of it. Why are the films not working? The content-driven films are now working really well at the box office and the star power is not that powerful now. So what do you think is the reason of Begum Jaan’s failure? Or do you think people labelled it as a women-centric film?
No I don’t think so. I think it is not about the labelling, it is about the content itself. Something in that content didn’t appeal to people. They probably found it too intense or something like that. So that’s why it didn’t work. But not because it was labelled as women centric. Because today there are lots of women centric films that are doing well also.
Do you think it is correct to even label a film as women-centric?
I think it is okay because in so many years we have not had women in the center of films (laughs).
You are now a member of CBFC also. So what changes can we expect from the censor board after Pahlaj Nihalani has moved out?
I won’t talk about any person. But in general terms I will say that I am very happy. I was very happy after I attended the first board meeting because there are like-minded people on the board. We are all on the same page. And if you ask me what page is that, I will say you will read it over a next three years (laughs).
After being in the industry for so long and giving so many power-packed performances, do box office numbers still matter to Vidya Balan?
Yes, they do! (Laughs) I’d love for my films to be very successful, to be a huge box office hits. But I have understood over time that success doesn’t mean only a 100 crore film. Different films do different kinds of business and yet they might be successful. But having said that it matters ya! You want more people to watch your work. You put it so much into a film, you want it to be a successful film. Success means people have watched your work.
Right from facing the camera till now, what changes have you seen in Bollywood? If you have to sum it up. And one thing you would like to change about the film industry if you had the power?
You know what is changed is things are becoming more and more professional. I’d really enjoy that. If there’s one thing that requires change I think it would be the fact that people here always behave like ‘arey kal hona chaiye tha abhi kar do!’ Bich raat ko, Sunday ko. The value of time is so less.
We talk about content-driven cinema but do you think our industry is still star-driven?
No. I think it is moving towards being content driven. And it is great to be star driven if you get great content and have a star, it is a bonus. I don’t think it is only star driven.
Recently Shabana Azmi had said that if Arth is ever remade it should cast you? Your reaction.
There is no bigger award for me than Shabana Azmi saying that because I have always idolised her and her performance in Arth is like a bible for me. So I can’t even believe she said that, I had to pinch myself literally. I read the article and I read it again because my sister sent it to me, I don’t read entertainment news otherwise. I said, ‘Ab sab thik hai yaar, ab sab hogaya mera!’ (Laughs) It doesn’t get better than this. But you know we human beings are so greedy, I am still saying how can this get any better, what else is possible…(laughs) what more can we receive.
What are you working on next? Anything in the pipeline?
I have not decided ya! Like there are 2-3 things that I am choosing between. But ye film prepone ho gaya toh we started promotional shoots beforehand. So after the film releases now, I will take some rest and then I will decide on what to do. Nothing that I can announce yet.