Vidya Balan is back with the sequel to Kahaani2 and is looking forward to different genre of films now. There’s Begum Jaan where she plays a brothel owner and a Malayalam film Aami which is a based on the life of writer Kamala Das.
Is it true that directors approach you only for complicated roles?
It feels so good when directors say that they want me to play a certain role. I hope this never changes. The actor in me is very greedy. I want to play different roles.
Yet your last few films have not done well at the box office, did it affect you?
My last few films Ghanchakkar, Shaadi Ke Side Effects, Bobby Jasoos, Hamari Adhuri Kahani, Te3n and Marathi film Ekk Albela have not exactly been box office hits. I can’t lie and say these things don’t affect me. Initially things were going well and I felt invincible. I felt I can never give flops. I could not accept that my films were not doing well. I thought it would do well after the initial three days. I shot for Ghanchakkar when I was seeing Siddharth Roy Kapoor and we were married when the film released. I felt bad and blamed myself that it didn’t do well. You become frustrated and you want to blame it on someone. Everyone in the team feels terrible. But with time I realised that a film cannot run because of one person and also cannot fail because of one person. It’s team work. If you can share the success with everyone you have to share the flops too. Some films will do well and some will fail.
What have your learnt from it?
I realised that I have to tell a story. I saw a new perspective. I had faced the situation earlier as I had faced a lot of criticism. I forced myself to do few films before Ishkiya and Paa happened. Eventually I knew that I had to do films that make me happy.
What has failure taught you?
A lot. When you are successful you feel you know everything and there is nothing to know but with failure you realise that there is a lot to learn. I enjoyed my success and fame. I have been blessed with love. At the end of the day I feel that all that matters is work.
Well what is different about Kahaani 2?
Vidya Bagchi in Kahaani was innocent you could believe her and wanted to help her but with Durga Rani Singh, you don’t understand what she is. Is she really innocent or is she a confusing character? She lives in her own world but she knows what is happening around her. You can’t gauge her. The story is completely different this time around.
You are known for pushing the envelope when it comes to your roles…
In this film Durga has a strange habit of peeling off her skin. She has extremely dry skin. She is not interested in her beauty . Director Sujoy Ghosh instructed me not to pamper my skin or do manicure. At one point I was scared that my skin will really peel off. Luckily it didn’t harm my skin. For me it’s exciting when I have to play Vidya Bagchi, Durga Rani Singh or Bidya Sinha. I have learnt that my look is a tool to play another person.
There were budget restraints in the first Kahaani, did you face the same problem this time?
We still faced the same difficulties and we struggled to make the film within the budget. The economics of the industry had changed. Plus I had a string of flops. Yet we managed to complete the film.
You are very comfortable with director Sujoy Ghosh, how is your relationship with him grown?
I don’t know if we are friends because we fight a lot. We are sensitive about what we say to each other. I may not say on his face but he is very observant and intelligent. He is very well read. It’s amazing and he channelizes that into his films. Funnily for this film I met him in a coffee shop. I went and told him, you know I am an actor. He said oh are you the one who played the pregnant woman. Within one hour he told me what he had written. I took the initiative. I told him that people will expect Vidya Bagchi and Bob Biswas to return but he was confident of the script. I love to work with him. He never takes me seriously.
Can you recall what stories fascinated you as a child?
I was always fascinated and my father used to tell me the story of a werewolf and a lady who marries him and later how she tries to escape from his clutches. I loved her courage. I would ask him to narrate the same story to me everyday even though he had many other stories to narrate.
Have you ever cooked up stories to your advantage, especially with Siddharth?
We all do it (winks) don’t we. I can’t tell you what stories I have told Sidharth or else I will fall into trouble. I read stories to my niece and nephew. Now they tell me stories as they have started reading.
Tell us about your next Begum Jaan?
It was a completely new experience with Srijit Mukherji. We were supposed to shoot before the rains in Jharkhand where rains commence from 20th of July onwards hence we landed in Jhumka on 15th of June. But it had started pouring and when the sun would come out it would be hot. It would either be foggy or sunny so we had to shoot fast, we would begin at 4.00 in the morning be on the sets and just have one rehearsal as we didn’t have time. We completed the shoot in 35 days. We had to be constantly on our toes. Everyone literally pushed themselves to complete the film.
The Bengali version of the film had very bold scenes?
I have not seen the film but heard about it. I am playing the madam of a brothel. If I am convinced about the character, then skin show is just a form of description. I don’t have inhibitions.
What about Aami?
I will start shooting for the film in December. It’s a biopic and in Malayalm. The film is titled Aami because she spent the last few years of her life in Kolkata. Kamala Das was a wonderful writer and the film has many shades.
We heard you had been offered Indira Gandhi’s role and also for Suchitra Sen’s biopic?
I was offered Indira Gandhi’s role but since it’s a political figure and I told them to get all the prior permissions. I don’t want the film to stop. I was also approached for Suchitra Sen’s biopic but I felt it was not right for me to do the role as Raima is her granddaughter and she should do it.