There is not a single film I regret doing in my career – Vidya Balan
With a beaming smile to compliment her simple yet beautiful look, Vidya Balan indulges us in a conversation where she talks about the various struggles, dilemmas and lessons that have got her where she is. Her infectious laughter manages to tickle a lot of bones and a candid chat with her is always welcome.
As her film Te3n releases today, it is mesmerizing to see the pioneer of women-oriented films easily regarding her luck and timing for this credit, while still committing to the responsibility of choosing her roles.
You are being said to have an extended special appearance on Te3n. Can you shed some light on that?
It is an extended special appearance. The reason you see a lot of me on the poster, or trailers, or being promoted as the lead is because the film has three different perspectives to solve the mystery. So you couldn’t have given just Mr. Bachchan’s or Nawaz (Nawazuddin Siddiqui)’s point of view. So it was a very conscious decision on the part of the director and the producers to have a very balanced trailer. And I personally also feel that it is important that the trailer gives you an idea of the story.
It is important that the trailer give you an idea of the story
How was it like to work with Mr. Bachchan after so many years?
What I admire the most is that even after so many years, he is still so driven by the actor in him. And that inspires me a lot. It is a great learning experience. In Te3n I have only two scenes with him, and yet the kind of learning I have taken back home is immense.
What is the most important thing you look at while selecting a film you want to do next?
I think primarily, it is the role. I instinctively know whether I want to be this other person. Because for two months, you have to live and breathe this person, so it’s important to know whether you want to be her. Then comes the story. And finally the director. Because it is also important to know if you and the director are looking at the story in the same light. At times you could be at tangents, and that doesn’t work. So how I vibe with the director is very important. I also look at the producer or the production house that is making the film. That’s what eventually ensures that the film is made as it was set out to, along with the kind of release it will get. So all of these four factors are important, and in this order.
There’ll never be a day when everyone praises you, and there’ll never be a day when everyone criticizes you
From your first film Parineeta to now, you have come a long way. What has been the most significant lesson you have learnt?
That it’s never the end of the world (laughs). I come from a complete non-filmy background, so when I used to hear or read about myself earlier, I used to be really affected. But over time I’ve realized that it is never the entire world that is saying something. It is never “everyone’s” opinion. And it never will be. You therefore don’t have to take it all that seriously. That’s how I stopped reading about myself. Or watching any kind of entertainment news. I think this has been my biggest lesson as a person, that there’ll never be a day when everyone praises you, and there’ll never be a day when everyone criticizes you; so it’s all good in the world (smiles).
How then, do you identify, genuine criticism from the noise. When you know, that yeah maybe I made a mistake. And how do you muster the courage to get back on form?
I think you always know. Inherently you can always make out that here I chickened out, or here I didn’t give my best, or I just did not put enough thought. I personally feel you are your best judge. As long as you’re able to be honest to yourself, you’re good. And that is what I try to do. I try to be as honest with myself as I can. It’s very difficult at times, but it is the only way.
I try to be as honest with myself as I can
Beginning with Kahaani, people, especially from within the industry, give you a lot of credit for starting a wave of women – dominated films in the country. Does that put any pressure on you?
Not really. In fact, I feel very grateful that people give me that credit. I think someone had to take the first step, and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. I did have that thirst to work, and to do good work; but that is about it. It is really sweet if people are giving me that credit.
You are known for the brave choices you’ve made as an actor. Do you think these choices, of the films you’ve done, are a reflection of yourself?
In a way they are. Honestly, I have no qualms about admitting that my happiness is of utmost importance to me. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to please everyone, but eventually you reach a point where you know you cannot ever make everyone happy. So I would rather do what makes me happy. So whether or not a film of mine works, there is not a single film I regret doing in my career. Because I have no one to blame and no one to share that credit with. The decision to do a film is solely mine. It is one of the most personal decisions. And I really live by these choices.
The decision to do a film is solely mine. It is one of the most personal decisions
As you have progressed in your career, do you feel that the audience has also evolved?
Oh absolutely! Because we are also giving them different kinds of stories. I feel the more these films work, the more they will accept different kinds of films. It is a give and take situation; it sort of works both ways.