A person of lesser mettle would have given up if s/he had to go through the kind of roadblocks that Vidya Balan experienced on her way. Her first serial failed to take off and she got tagged a ‘jinx’ when her first film got shelved, followed by a patch where she got chucked out of nearly 25 films.
A dejected Vidya returned to Mumbai. She swore never to return to Malayalam and Tamil film industry (However she later broke her promise and did a guest appearance for the Malayalam film, Urumi). On her return to Mumbai, she again started doing ad films, most of which were helmed by Bengali director Pradeep Sarkar with whom she had developed quite a rapport by that time. She even started assisting him for some of his projects. This rapport between the two led to tattle in gossip magazines that both of them were having an affair. Sarkar’s assignments included two music videos at that time — one for Palash Sen of Euphoria and the other for Shubha Mudgal. Both videos became extremely popular. Had those released today, Vidya would have been lapped up by the filmworld, but then most filmmakers were connected with the South Indian film industry and were aware of what had happened to Vidya in the South. So, she didn’t get any offers immediately.
Here’s the Euphoria music video that featured Vidya Balan ->
And here’s the Shubha Mudgal music video (that also featured Gulzar). Both these videos were directed by Pradeep Sarkar.
The big debut: An art film in Bengali!
Those music videos done by Vidya, however, did catch someone’s attention – Gautam Halder, a Bengali art filmmaker. He decided to cast her in one of his films called Bhalo Theko, which required Vidya to talk in fluent Bengali. Not only did she learn the language, but did such a wonderful job in the film that the director was amazed at the depth of Vidya’s talent. That Bengali film finally released. As expected, the film made film festival rounds, got noticed and Vidya bagged a couple of awards for her performance. One of the awards was Anando Purashkar from Bengal which is still regarded as one of the most prestigious awards for Art and Indie films. The wheels of her film career started moving again, albeit very slowly. Like a rusty Kolkata tram trudging on a worn-out and cracked steel track. But it started moving in the right direction.
Here’s a slide-show of stills from Vidya Balan’s debut feature film.
Bhalo Theko ultimately went on to win a national award for best cinematography, and a handful of filmmakers began noticing the film’s heroine. But there were no offers yet. But the kind of experiences she had gone through in her past, it didn’t affect her that bad. Her best time was yet to come and her bad days were slowly getting over. As I had told earlier I will not dwell on her successes, and concentrate only on her failures.
Here is a clip from her first feature film, the Bengali film Bhalo Theko.
The Big Break
Vidya finally realized her big dream when she became the leading lady of Vinod Chopra’s Parineeta – the industry was mesmerized by the new talent and beauty. One such admirer was none other than Amitabh Bachchan, who praised her talent wholeheartedly and would go on to cast her in his award-winning film Paa. The actress now has the distinction of having played the stalwart’s mother with aplomb, irrespective of the huge age difference as well as experience. When looking back, Vidya recalls reacting in disbelief when Sarkar told her that he wanted to cast her in directorial debut film, Parineeta. She was told that she would be paired opposite Sanjay Dutt and Saif Ali Khan, but that didn’t bother or intimidate her as the sheen of the film industry had worn off with her past experiences. But this time, Parineeta had put her on a definite path.
Here is the trailer of of Parineeta that featurd Vidya, this is Vidya first movie trailer
But the euphoria of her first Hindi film began wearing off a year later, and media started labeling her a fashion disaster and called her ‘fat’ when she started attending events. The ‘fat’ label continues to haunt her even today, even though fashion whiz Sabyasachi has covered her with his best creations. While Vidya has always proved her detractors wrong, she, however, is unfazed by criticism leveled against her on her weight. She feels that becoming size zero is a physical impossibility for a girl of her built. This new found confidence has a lot to do with her stupendous success of The Dirty Picture, where people turned around and lauded her not only for her stunning performance, but as a courageous actor for not giving into the diktats of the glamour world by starving herself.
The last rejection
Last but not the least, there’s one rejection that Vidya Balan is never going to forget all her film. One that came from someone close to her heart, Shahid Kapoor. According to sources, Shahid has said hurtful things about her looks and her weight that it had reduced Vidya to tears. Even post their estrangement, Shahid had reportedly taken a dig at Vidya’s weight during the promotions of The Dirty Picture. But destiny was with Vidya, and went on touch glorious heights with the film. The Shahid-Vidya story will be the focus of another blog, till then I leave you with a video clip…
Here is Vidya Balan in a scene from No One Killed Jessica. This is regarded as one of the best scenes in the film and Vidya is at her emotional best. This scene truly brings out the actor in her.
To read the earlier post on Vidya Balan, click here.
To read the first post on Vidya Balan, click here