In conversation with Bollywood actress Vidya Balan

Women get burdened and stereotyped a lot – Vidya Balan

Vidya Balan started working as an actor in the entertainment field with ‘Hum Paanch’. Then happened ‘Parineeta’ in her life, alongside Saif Ali Khan and Sanjay Dutt, which changed her dimensions as an actor. Then, with movies like ‘Bhool Bhulaiya’, ‘Heyy Baby’, ‘The Dirty Picture’, ‘Kahaani’, ‘Tumhari Sullu’ and many more, she definitely proved her mettle as an actor and made sure she is here to stay for long. And now she is gearing up for the release of her next, ‘Mission Mangal’. In a conversation with IWMBuzz, Vidya gets candid about her co-actors, the movie, her upcoming movies and a lot more. Read on to find out more….

Tell us something about your role Vidya?

Answer – Well, Tara Shinde is a project director on the Mars mission. But she’s like any other professional woman in India who is handling home and work. She is extremely passionate about her work and her work is her life. It gives her great joy but she also handles her home with as much seriousness, just like any other Indian woman. So that balancing act is what appealed to me the most. Most women are doing the same thing and you are simply expected to be a super woman. But the fantastic thing about Tara Shinde is that she isn’t trying to be a super woman. When R. Balki narrated it, he actually simplified it. So that’s what appealed to me the most.

How did you prepare for the role with respect to research?

Answer– You know Jagan had given a docket to me which had everything. Of course, I am not very good with science, so I had to read certain things again and again. But it was helpful. There were videos and references. His sister is a scientist at ISRO and she too is taking care of her kids at the same time, just like Tara Shinde. That’s amazing. I spoke to her and it gave me a sense of how she juggles everything. I personally don’t know any scientist, so I asked her and she helped me a lot.

What was your biggest revelation when you were working to get to know about scientists?

Answer –That they are not geeks. They are also normal human beings like us. The revelation was they are not like robots who are always serious. They are also finding the relevance of science in their daily life.

How do you think the industry has shifted, compared to the time you started? Do you think the role of women has changed?

Answer – Firstly, girls all around us aren’t keeping quiet anymore. I remember meeting someone’s grandma and I laughed loudly and she looked at me in a strange way. So I asked the girl if I made her upset by laughing and she said she believes in girls only being seen and not heard. We all have been inculcated with that in some way or the other. But today, we are all working hard, finding our voices and working to get the right recognition. That change is underway. I still think that because of that, our anger is getting expression now. The years of frustration are coming out now. It’s good in a way.

Did you look forward to incorporating any ethnic nuisances or did you keep it cosmopolitan?

Answer –Well, we have kept it a Pan-Indian film. So there are bits and pieces of a cultural touch in it, but primarily it is a film which will give you the Indian feel.

Do you think women actors are overburdened when it comes to getting questioned about their choice of roles?

I have been doing female-led films and I am doing a film with a big male superstar after ages. I enjoy the attention and being centre stage amidst everything. It gives me a chance to tell stories and it gives me a great sense of power. I don’t want second place anymore, but if you enjoy it as an actor, why not? So it’s simple that way. Women get burdened and stereotyped a lot.

What do you have to say on Akshay Kumar having a bigger space in the poster compared to the female actors?

Answer – See, it is ultimately the business of cinema. Since Akshay Kumar is currently the biggest star among us all, I think if him having a bigger share of the poster brings more business to the film, then why not? We want more people in the theatres to see and enjoy our movie. I would love to use Akshay Kumar’s stardom for my own benefit (laughs).

On the day of your film release, ISRO will also complete 50 years. Do you think that will give the film an additional push?

Answer – Well, I would like to believe it will. I am not too sure how many people will know of it, but I would love to think that way and want it to happen.

Vidya, actors earlier weren’t very open about their age but now things are changing. You recently completed your 40th birthday. How does the industry treat actors when they hit their 40s?

Well, who cares about how the industry treats us? It’s about how you treat yourself. I don’t believe my life and career is ending at 40. I believe I am here to stay. I think it is about what you believe in.

Vidya, how good are you with money, because you have also become a producer?

Answer – Well, Ronnie Screwvala is the producer. He met me and had asked me if I would like to co-produce it. I said I had never thought of it. It’s a short film and he is taking care of the production. Let’s say, I have just taken producer credit, but I don’t think I am inclined towards it.

Vidya, Akshay Kumar is known for his punctuality. Did any of you guys face any problem with that?

Answer – Well, I told Jagan that if it is Akshay and you expect me to be ready on set at 7 am, I can’t. I am not a very morning person. He told me we will start at 9 am, so I was like good. But in today’s time, I feel all the actors are very punctual and nobody was late or kept anyone waiting that way.

Vidya, why could you not work on the Jayalalitha biopic? Also, any update on the Indira Gandhi biopic?

Answer – Well, the Indira Gandhi biopic is taking longer than what I would like. But can’t help it. I can only wait. And as far the Jayalalitha biopic is concerned, I am happy Kangana is doing it and I will leave it at that.

Lastly Vidya, when are you starting Shakuntala? How’s the preparation going?

Answer – Well, I am actually a little nervous, since I haven’t had time to prepare. I start the movie within 2 weeks of the release of Mission Mangal.

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