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Vidya Balan: scripting her way out of getting typecast in Bollywood

Vidya Balan in a conversation with Faye D’Souza, in Chennai on Friday.

Vidya Balan in a conversation with Faye D’Souza, in Chennai on Friday.
| Photo Credit: R. Ravindran

From a traditional family background and being typecast in her early days in the industry, actress Vidya Balan has spent much of her career breaking the mould. In a conversation with journalist Faye D’Souza at a curated evening for invited guests at The Hindu Lit for Life, Ms. Balan traced her journey.

“I hail from a typical TamBrahm family where joining the film industry was never an option. Like most parents, mine too were not in favour of me joining the industry. However, as a child, I grew up watching Madhuri Dikshit dancing to Ek Do Teen and that created in me a burning desire to dance and act,” she reminisced.

As a movie lover herself, she shared that her favourite movie was the Kamal Haasan-starrer Michael Madana Kama Rajan, while her favourite song is Aduthathu Ambujatha Pathela, from Edhir Neechal.

Ms. Balan’s first audition was for a television show. “In 1995, I auditioned for Hum Paanch. I went to Film City with my mother and sister, and we waited all day.” She finally got a role, but had to drop out, as she had extremely low attendance in college and her parents told her in no uncertain terms that she could not compromise her studies.

The actress spoke about being dropped from several films as she was considered a jinx after her first film with a famous director was shelved. “When another producer replaced me in a film, he couldn’t tell me that I was a jinx. He instead said I didn’t look like heroine material. They made me feel so ugly that, for six months, I could not gather the courage to look at myself in the mirror,” Ms. Balan said.

Finally, her big break came with Parineeta, and there was no looking back. “I didn’t choose Parineeta; Parineeta chose me,” she said. After being typecast as the typical girl-next-door in several movies, she got an opportunity to play off-beat characters in movies like Ishqiya and The Dirty Picture, where she portrayed actor Silk Smitha.

If the opportunity presents itself, her wish is to portray eminent Carnatic musician M.S. Subbulakshmi, another South Indian woman who broke the mould.

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