First Cut

In conversation with Vidya Balan

Vidya Balan in 'Ghanchakkar'With back-to-back hits, Vidya Balan seems invincible. Dressed in character, Vidya is wearing a not-very-flattering black kurta with floral-printed leggings and some very bizarre accessories. She has spoken a bit of Tamil, a little Kannada, some Bangla and lots of Punjabi on her promotional tour of ‘Ghanchakkar’. On a wind-swept Bangalore afternoon, Vidya finally settles down to talk to us about her experience of working in a comic suspense thriller, a role very different from her previous ones.

Excerpts from the interview:

After all the serious roles, what made you decide on a comedy?

When Raj Kumar came to me with the script I was fascinated because the same person who wrote ‘Aamir’ and No One Killed Jessica’ had written this. For him to want me to play this character, it was unimaginable for me because she is the exact opposite of Sabrina in ‘Jessica’. I loved the fact that he had the faith that I could play a character that was diametrically opposite. And it really seems like the lack of speech and color in Sabrina has been made up for in ‘Ghanchakkar’.

I found it fascinating that Raj Kumar had the faith that I could pull-off someone as loud, as bizarre, as outlandish and gregarious as Neetu.

Is there anything common between the character you played in ‘The Dirty Picture’ and your character in ‘Ghanchakkar’?

The only common thing between ‘The Dirty Picture’ and this film is Emraan and me but even our equation is very different. There we never got to a point were it culminated into a love story but in ‘Ghanchakkar’ we have gone through the love and now we are going through that time in the marriage where there are fights and bickering but there’s love, there’s sex and passion, there’s everything else in equal measure.

In the last few films we have seen you essay intense characters. Was working on a comedy like ‘Ghanchakkar’ a welcome break?

I have been looking to do a comedy for very long but no script had excited me. When you are playing a character like this you need to implicitly trust the director but for me it worked in the reverse, the director implicitly trusted me and therefore, came to me with this role. And it was Raj Kumar Gupta, who I trust implicitly anyway, so it worked both ways. I am a sucker for the faith and trust the director shows in an actor.

I am always looking to do new things, I am looking to do things that excite me, this did and I went ahead and accepted this role.

Last year we had films like ‘Kahaani’ and ‘English Vinglish’ which were big successes. Are filmmakers finally writing roles for women?

I think it is the most exciting for Hindi cinema and for the Hindi film heroine. All kinds of films are being made, all kinds of roles are being written for us and audiences are lapping it up because firstly, its not one kind of audience, it’s a very very varied audience. And the fact that these films are working shows us that people just don’t want to see the same thing again and again. It is exciting to see so many different kinds of story being told differently. A ‘Ready’ works and a ‘Kahaani’ works, a ‘Paan Singh Tomaar’ works and a ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ works, all kinds of films are doing extremely well.

A lot of films demand a certain amount of sensitivity, for example, films on homosexuality or a film like ‘Barfi’. How can we portray certain characters without making them a caricature?

I think when you are not exploiting a handicap or some sort of disadvantage to your advantage then you will never come across as…when the intent is right, you will never comes across wrongly. And yet, there will always be people who will say why are you showing a deaf-mute person? There could be those instances but then what’s wonderful is Barfi is someone who is so positive despite such challenging circumstances, so that should be the takeaway.

At the moment, it’s as if Vidya Balan can’t do anything wrong. Is there pressure to maintain the momentum?

I enjoy the fact that people have expectations from me but I don’t let that become a pressure point. I am too selfish about what I do, I enjoy what I do and I don’t want any pressure to take away that joy from me.

Ghanchakkar: The film

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