We met up with Vidya Balan just after a press conference. We didn’t have much time hence, we shot her some pointed questions, including one where we asked her about self-censorship while answering to a question. As it turns out, Vidya Balan was about to cuss. She quickly controlled herself… Here are excerpts from the interview…
During the press conference you suddenly stopped yourself from saying something, what was it?
It was kind of self censorship. I wanted to say “Aye Saala” (while answering to a question from a journalist). Sometimes I say such words but today, I decided to control myself. Everyone uses bad words in everyday life. I may not be doing it but I don’t think it’s a big deal.
On what basis do you choose your roles?
Most importantly, I should connect to the role. If the character is somebody I get immediately attached to, then it’s a ‘yes’ from me. I should be able to feel the character, you know.
What do you think an actress like you will be remembered for? Box Office numbers or her roles?
Good box office numbers means that many people have seen the film. It’s a reflection of how popular the film is. I think commercial success is very, very important. But personally, I don’t bother about numbers. You can’t control the numbers. I can’t control it. I concentrate on my role and the process and enjoy it. Thankfully I have got great roles in my career. There are absolutely no regrets about any movie that I have done.
Your performances have been great and you have set a bench mark for yourself, does that create a pressure on you too?
Yes, it’s all about great expectations (smiles). I take it very positively. I can work hard and usually put in my all in a role. I am too greedy as an actor.
You are privileged that roles are written for you. Kangana recently said that she needs a stronger role and be the hero of the film, do you also look at roles at the same way?
I don’t look at who is cast opposite me. As long as the person is right for the role. Director Raj Kumar Santoshi said recently that I don’t know what kind of roles to offer you. I said, ‘don’t think anything. Just come to me with the role and let me decide whether I want to do it or not’. I tell filmmakers don’t think about me (as an actor). I am flexible (about roles) and everybody knows that. I tell all of them to give me the chance of refusal first. I have reacted to the same scripts differently at different times. I don’t have limitations. I may like it or I may not. It all depends because sometimes you grow or think differently.
Is it a challenge to do a thriller?
Whether it was Ishkiyan, No One Killed Jessica or Kahaani… all worked well for me. I have read some of the best seller thrillers. I love reading thrillers so much that sometimes, I don’t even know the author’s name (who’s book she has picked up) but I keep reading the book if it appeals to me. I love ’masaledaar’ stuff.
What gives you thrill in real life?
I love the thrill of a fast paced car and adventure sports. I just love theme parks and joy rides.
Do opinions of your fans matter to you?
I have thin skin, that’s what the doctor said, I get affected easily. I don’t generally read about myself. If I find something negative about me, I generally avoid reading it. There will be negative reactions but I don’t waste my life on any negativity. I base it on positivity that comes my way which comes easier to me.
How is it to sustain yourself for your fans?
You are the audience and I am your actress. We are who we are because of you (the audience). Otherwise I can make a home video and watch myself. It is because of you that we are here and it challenges us to do better. I like it when they tell me not to do certain roles because it comes out of affection and love.
Which film did Siddharth appreciate of yours?
He liked two films: Kahaani and No one killed Jessica.
Will we ever see you and Siddharth working together?
We try not to work together because it’s necessary for our marriage. Sometimes I miss out on good films but it’s necessary to keep away because we do not want to mix our personal and professional lives as we will end up discussing the film even in our personal space. We do discuss movies which we are not doing. It’s healthier not to work together or else we will end up arguing.
You are doing a lot of regional cinema, we hear…
There are two interesting projects and I will eventually decide which is more interesting for an actor like me. I will definitely sign one of them. Today Marathi film Sairaat has done one hundred crores at the box office. I am very happy. As an actor what excites me is that regional cinema is getting more and more audience.
How did you bag the Marathi film Ekk Albela?
I said yes to the film before the director approached me. Vidyadhar Bhate the makeup man is a very well known makeup man and he called me and said this is Geeta Bali’s role. “Sham dhale khidki dhale” is my most favourite song. The director narrated the film beautifully in 15 minutes. I felt maybe I will get to do the song.
What about television?
I got offers from television but nothing was exciting enough. I have been watching Zindagi channel and I quite like what I see there.
Kahani 2 is releasing on August 2nd. Then I will start shooting for Begum Jaan and then I will shoot for Kamala Das. Begum Jaan is the role of a courtesan. I have been offered ten biopics so far but I have not chosen some of them for some reason or the other.