The term 'meteoric' and 'kismat' are often used to describe the career paths of film actors. It is usually inaccurate, ignoring a plethora of dodgy TV shows and unwatchable movies made while the subject gradually and painfully learns their craft. With Vidya Balan though, meteoric and kismat are absolutely on the nail. Within a mere three years of her feature debut Parineeta, she has now become one of the most sought-after actresses in Bollywood. More importantly perhaps, she is already one of the most compelling, convincing and adaptable actors around. In this exclusively long chat us, Vidya recalls her past with Vidhu Vinod Chopra, her present with Aziz Mirza, her future with Shahid Kapoor and of course, lots more about Kismat Konnection.
Out of all the films, you've done so far, your funny role has never been portrayed in any films inspite of you being a part of few. Will Kismat Konnection change that?
I see Kismat Konnection as a love story and not as a comedy. So for me, I think I still haven't got a chance to explore the funny side of me in the films I've done. But as a love story, I still think that it's different for me because it's a very light hearted film and not emotionally high on content. It's a very breezy, young and a vibrant love story and it's still different from what I've done so far.
You're just three years old in Bollywood and you've done - so far so good. Does it seem like thirty years?
(Laughs) Definitely not. I still feel like a newcomer. I've got a good kismat of working with a lot of very experienced and well established people. But I am still wonder struck by a lot of things in the industry. So I still feel like a novice and I have a long way to go before I can feel that I've spent thirty years here.
Your first three films were with Vidhu Vinod Chopra. Anything on the cards with him in the near future?
I'd love to because my first three films, as you mentioned, were with Vinod Chopra Productions and that in sense is like a home ground for me. I know that whenever Mr. Chopra thinks that he has something suitable for me, he'll call me. But there is no expectation from either side that I have to be a part of his every project. I know that when there is something for me, I will get that call.
We've seen your scary side and a scary dance by Monjulika in Bhool Bhulaiyaa. What surprise moves is in-store for us in Kismat Konnection?
(Laughs) The first thing I told myself was that I have to forget that I am going to be dancing with Shahid Kapoor because he is such a brilliant dancer. That took the pressure off me. You can't imagine matching steps with the likes of Shahid and Hrithik ever. But it was something new for me to do and I haven't danced like this before. I was actually enjoying myself. I'm hoping it's turned out well.
We haven't seen Vidya Balan wearing too much of western outfits in films except Heyy Babyy. Is Vidya sexy or beautiful?
Both. But as I recently quoted during my Filmfare July launch, sexiness lies in my eyes. The sexiest women have always had their sex appeal in the eyes. It does not matter what you're wearing or how much you are showing.
Tell us something more about Kismat Konnection, which the audiences don't know.
I don't know whether this is something that I've shared or not. But when I initially started with Kismat Konnection, it was a new unit for me like every film unit is. But normally what happens before you go abroad for a shoot, you generally do a short schedule in India and then you go off on a long schedule. But here we were directly thrown into Toronto for two month outdoor and I had no clue about how I was going to get along with the rest of the team. For me, it's very important that I get along well with everyone first. I love listening to music. I had my I-Pod plugged in, in-between shots because I wasn't sure how I would get along. And by second or third day, everyone had their I-Pods out and we started exchanging our I-Pods and sharing the music we were listening to. So music helped all of us bond on the sets.
So tell us your funny experience while taking the autograph of your favourite actor Shahid Kapoor.
(Laughs) You know Shahid is a slightly shy person. He is someone who keeps to himself a lot. He was sitting in one corner of the set. It was the first day of our shoot. We had a scene, which needed a certain familiarity between us. So we were just rehearsing it and I realized that in getting the scene right we first had to get a bit familiar with each other which would have eventually helped us in the long two month schedule. When I went to him and asked for his autograph, he was completely taken by surprise. I don't think anyone has done something like this to him before. He kept running away and saying that I was embarrassing him. Next, he went upto Aziz uncle. But I was relentless and I did not give up till he gave me his autograph. Trust me, I'm going to sell his autograph and make fortunes (laugh).
Do you believe in Kismat or do you believe in hardwork?
I believe that we are all given opportunities and we have to make the best out of them. But those opportunities are pre-destined. What we make of them then depends on us. Thus it's a combination of both.
So it's the combination of both which has brought you so far?
Yes. To be at the right place at the right time was really pre-destined for me. I'm not playing a rank game here, but all the films you've done are with A-list stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Saif Ali Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, etc. Here, all of a sudden comes this vibrant and full of energy Shahid Kapoor.
Did you at all feel that you should back off because Shahid is a part of it?
Primarily my decision to do or not to do a film depends on the story, my role, and the director. The only reason for me doing the film was Aziz Mirza because I always wanted to work with him. I believe in his kind of films. And besides that it had a Shahid Kapoor who we've all known as a good actor. Every actor takes a certain amount of time to come into his own and Shahid is just doing that. Post Jab We Met, he has become quite a rock star from all that I've been hearing from everyone. I didn't think twice because it was Shahid Kapoor. So if anything works out in the future with Shahid, I'd love to work with him again.
'Mauja hi Mauja' was one of the best numbers to come out in 2007. Now we've got 'Ai Pappi', a perfect hip-hop and happening number.
'Ai Pappi' is a very very cool song. It's a kind of song that you just groove to so easily which explains why it's on the top of the charts right now. Soon as we heard the song, all of us instantly loved it and believe it or not but I wasn't going to be a part of the song initially. In the song, Shahid actually talks about Kismat Konnection but when we heard the song, we realized that it was probably going to be such a popular song that they would be mad not to have a heroine in the song, which is why you will be seeing glimpses of me in the song. I was an addition to 'Ai Pappi'. After the choreographer heard it, he said that Vidya has to be a part of it. Thanks to Ahmed Khan that I am a part of it, even if it is a glimpse because everything counts. Doesn't it?
In Bollywood, seven in every ten films are love stories. What makes Kismat Konnectionnot a cliched one?
I wouldn't say that Kismat Konnection is a different film. It's an honest Aziz Mirza film just like his previous films. Love stories will always be cliched because they are about two people who are in love, there is a certain situation which they have to overcome to be together, etc. That's the structure of any love story and that of course is true of Kismat Konnection. What really makes any film different from another film is the treatment of the moments captured and Aziz Mirza's strength lies in these moments. He makes the real moments special. Even in our lives today we are so caught up with the bigger things that we often over look the small pleasures of life. That's the beauty of Kismat Konnection.
We've also noticed that you are not one of those actors who go on a signing films left, right and centre. You are taking it easy. Is that a deliberate move?
No, not really. I just have to connect with the work I am doing. So tomorrow, if I get four films, which I'm able to do, I'll go for it because as an actor I would want to work in as many films as I can. But it's just that I have to believe in the work I'm doing. If I am able to do that, I am happy to do even six films a year. I can't multi task though, so it has to be one after the other. And you know what...I am a greedy actor.
All the films you've been a part of have won at least one award at major Bollywood award ceremonies. You've touched Kismat Konnection now. More awards to follow in 2009.
Inshallah! If that has any bearing, I hope (laughs) it holds true with Kismat Konnection also. I believe that Kismat Konnection will bring with it its own kismat. I hope people like the film and beyond that, awards are just the perfect icing on the cake.
We saw the first ever-blue ray disc of your film Heyy Babyy which came out a few months ago. Did you give any suggestions to Aziz Mirza to come out with one for his film as well?
I think, releasing Kismat Konnection on a DVD is a far better idea than a blue ray disc because firstly it is very expensive to afford a blue ray and you need to have a HD TV with a blue ray player. Now a days, DVD's are far more accessible and everybody can afford them. So releasing the film on a DVD at this point of time is more economical.
Some sections of the media say that you are sharing a special relationship with Shahid. Is this the real connection or the rumoured connection?
I think people are really using their imaginations in a wild way. But now I'm quite used to it. We share a great onscreen rapport but beyond that we just get along really well with each other and that is about it. If people want to read what they want to, they can. I'm here to build a career and not some relationship.
Does that mean you'll let the people and the media know once you come out in the open with your relationship someday with someone?
I'm not the kind of person who will scream from the roof tops. But I'm not someone who will keep a relationship obscure either because I think it is very important for one to be able to acknowledge the other person. I'm not the kind of person to hide any relationship. I don't feel the need to. If I were with someone, I would be celebrating it.
Vidya means education. Anything the viewers will get educated by from the film.
Primarily Kismat Konnection goes beyond a love story. It has an inherent message without being preachy; that in life, the best always comes to you and you are not always able to see that, which is why we keep saying - 'It's destiny'. Whether it's work or personal relationships, when certain things don't work out, it is sometimes for the best and maybe something better is in store for you. Only time can prove that. That's the small message that KK carries.
Any message for your fans in London?
London is a very special city for all us actors in Bollywood because the kind of warmth and love you receive from audiences in London is incomparable to any of the other NRI audiences. Please go and watch Kismat Konnection, as it will put a smile on your face.
We heard that you guys are planning to do a premiere here in London?
We were hoping to come to London during the time of release but for some reason it hasn't worked out. I'd love to come there but India has now become a huge market for promotions with reality shows, music shows, talent shows, etc. So commitments here will be our first priority.