There's something hypnotic about Vidya Balan that doesn't let you take your eyes off her when you indulge in a talk with her. She is confident when it comes to words and makes sure that you too end up giggling, each time the conversation gets a sprinkle of humour.
After a string of successes, her last few films were a
disappointment at the box office. But, Vidya is happy that she is
getting to live her dream of being an actor.
As Kahaani 2 is slated to hit the big screens this Friday, we
recently caught up with the talented lady for a quick chat and what
followed next was some sparkling revelations and stories down the
Excerpts from the interview...
Q. Did you miss being Vidya Bagchi or being called
'Bidya' this time?
A. I like it. When I visit Kolkata I always say
'aamhi Bidya Balan'. People from different states pronounce names
in their own different ways. In fact, after Kahaani, I have become
Bagchi for everyone there. (smiles) I have become Bidya Bagchi in
Kolkata. (laughs) But, I am not missing it. This time too, I am
playing a very powerful character named Durga Rani Singh and of
course you get to see me as Vidya Sinha as well...
Q. So, how different is Kahaani 2 from the first
A. The story and characters of Kahaani 2 are
very different from the earlier film. I would say there is a huge
difference between the two. I have two avatars here- one as Vidya
Sinha and the other as Durga Rani Singh. Since the film has a
different plot, Sujoy chose to cast new actors so that people don't
end up mistaking it as Vidya Bagchi's Kahaani.
Durga Rani Singh isn't what she pretends to be. She is a bit
tricky. I wouldn't reveal much...you should watch it by yourself
instead in the theatres. I am scared I don't end up divulging more
details. (laughs) But yes, she is someone who loves to live in her
own world. She doesn't like socializing with people much. But then,
something happens and her life turns upside-down. Suddenly, she is
accused of kidnapping and murder.
Q. Most of the times, sequels do have some connecting
links to the first film. Does your new film have something like
A. The only common thing is that the film is
set in Kolkata. It's a completely different story. After Kahaani,
Sujoy shared many ideas with me for the sequel. But, both of us
didn't feel that those ideas could become Kahaani 2. So, we were
like let's not make a sequel because it would be very difficult to
carry forward Vidya Bagchi's story. So, we decided to make a new
film called Durga Rani Singh. Then last year, he asked me to hear a
script which he wrote on the idea which he had previously narrated
to me. I was still hesitant to make Kahaani 2. But when I heard the
narration, I was totally bowled over by it and was convinced that
this could be our Kahaani 2.
We have retained the essence of Kahaani in this movie.
Q. Do you feel any kind of pressure or pre-release
jitters considering people have huge expectations from this
A. No. In fact, if there was any pressure then
we wouldn't have been able to make this film. I had discussed
earlier with Sujoy that we were making a completely different film.
The world will compare but let them do so. We were convinced about
the way we wanted to tell this story. Thankfully people have loved
the trailer. So, they are looking forward to the film which is a
huge plus point for us.
I am not feeling any jitters but I don't know about Sujoy.
Q. A powerful role brings with itself a set of its own
challenges and here you are saying that you are playing two of
A. Durga Rani Singh's character is unseemingly
complicated which makes it tough to enact on screen. In simple
terms, 'woh jaisi dikhti hai who waisi shayad hai nahi.' To
maintain that throughout the film was very tricky. There's a slight
obsessive streak in her. I have never so far portrayed that
obsessive streak. So, I just loved taking up this new, different
Further, Sujoy made sure that the script had everything in it so
that I would just have to focus on my performance. I and Sujoy
understand each other very well so that makes working simpler.
Nevertheless, I love taking up challenges.
Q. How important are box office numbers to you? Do you
think demonetisation would affect the collections of Kahaani
A. I am not a fatalist but I believe every film
has its own fate. We have made the film. Now, it's all up to the
audience. It's not within my control any more. So, I am not worried
Films which released in the first and second week of November did get affected but now, things seem to be getting better. Shahrukh Khan- Alia Bhatt's Dear Zindagi did quite well. So, the situation is definitely looking better.
As far as box office collections are concerned, I think it's
very important. It's heart-breaking when your film doesn't do well
at the box office. You want more people to watch your film because
that's what box office success means, right?
For lot of people it's about numbers. But, I don't understand
the business of cinema in that sense
Q. Way back in 2012, Anurag Kashyap had said that
audience used to come to watch male superstars. But the one female
actor who changed that trend was Vidya Balan. So, how do you see
this harbinger of change which happened long before
A. I feel very humbled when people say such
things. But I really think that I was in well-made films. (laughs)
I continued to do the kind of films that I had been doing but my
last four films didn't work. So, I don't think that it's really
just me. It's a film in total. It's very sweet of people to credit
me with that but I am well aware of the fact that I alone can't
work yet. (laughs)
Q. Is the pay disparity issue still existing in the
A. I am not very aware of what the disparity is
because I have not been doing films with male superstars in it. But
I think that I am getting the money that I have quoted. So, I am
Q. Talking about Kahaani 2, you have been going extra
miles for the promotions. Would you hesitate to make an appearance
on a comedy show with a roast format after the recent fiasco which
happened during films like Parched and Force 2?
A. I have always gone all out for the
promotions. I don't mind going anywhere. If you tell me that I have
to stand atop a building and shout 'Kahaani 2, 2nd December', I
would do that too because I want more and more people to watch the
film. I have gone to Bigg Boss twice during Dirty Picture and No
One Killed Jessica.
But, I won't go on a show like Comedy Bachao because I don't
think I would be able to stomach some of those jokes. You should
able to go there only if you know that you won't take offence. I
don't think that I am that cool that I wouldn't get offended at
some point or the other.
Q. What's your take on the term 'heroine oriented films'
which is so commonly used by people? Do you think it's fair to
categorise films that way?
A. Today we have female actors playing the
central protagonists. I think it's okay to mention it. Hopefully,
at some point there will be enough number of female centric films,
equal number of films with men and women playing the lead then
maybe this segregation won't happen.
You never say Gravity is a female centric film but here we still have some time to go before this can happen. So, I don't think there is any harm in acknowledging films as female centric.
Q. Did Hollywood as a career never excite
A. Honestly, I have never made an attempt to
reach out to them. Of course, but if there is something interesting
then I am ready to go anywhere in the world.
Q. How is Vidya Balan different from Vidya Bagchi and
Durga Rani Singh?
A. I don't know that for a person that I am, I
can keep secrets for so long. In that sense, I am very different
from Vidya Bagchi. As far as Durga Rani Singh is concerned, I can't
keep to myself when I have people around me. She wants to be
invisible to the world. I can't be like that in real life. I am
actor so I want to be seen by people. I think we are poles
Q. You are considered to be a source of inspiration to
women and recently you were even conferred by a doctorate
A. It feels wonderful when people say they feel
proud of me. I get inspired by people who live their lives on their
As far as the award is considered, I was totally speechless
during the doctorate function. Because, I had never thought in my
entire life that one day I would be conferred with the title of
When I was in fourth standard, my father suffered a heart
attack. Thankfully, he recovered but at that moment, I decided that
I wanted to be a doctor. Then a year later, I was so smitten by
Madhuri Dixit that I decided that I would be a doctor only in front
of the camera.
I never prepare my speeches. But I wished I had prepared one
that day for the doctorate ceremony. I was totally tongue-tied on
the stage. It still overwhelms me.
Q. Recently, Mahesh Bhatt had said that you are one of
the actresses who understands the technicalities of cinema. Can we
see you directing a film soon?
A. Really, did he say that? I always thought
that I don't understand the technique of film-making. Even now, I
am clueless about how shots are decided. I am only interested in my
job as an actor. I have never gone for any music sittings nor I
have any idea about how background scores are composed. I am
surprised that he said that.
I know my script at the back of my hand and refrain from asking
too much questions on the sets so that I don't end up wasting time.
Never say never, but I don't think I can handle people. A director
and producer has to bear a lot of things. So, I don't think I can
become one. (laughs)
Q. You have made it really big in your film journey
without the help of any godfather or acting opposite any of the
male superstars- the Khans...
A. I think it's been great. I would be having
it any other way. I am enjoying the kind of work that I am doing. I
feel very blessed that I am getting to live my dream of being an
actor. There are ups and downs. Of course, when I am down, I am
really sad and feel bad but then that's also the part of the
Q. Do you still have filmmakers coming to you with roles
of being a damsel round the trees?
A. No, not at more. It's a good thing. (laughs)
At least, I don't have to refuse them anymore.
Q. How do you end up attracting such powerful
A. Like they say, when you want something, the
whole universe conspires to make it. I think it's a two-way street.
These kinds of films veer towards me and I veer towards them. I get
drawn to stories with strong women characters. I am trying to find
my feet and trying to realise my worth and value with every passing
day. That's why I am getting scripts where women are doing
something similar like this.
Q. Shahrukh Khan in a recent interview said that he
takes a two-hour bath to rinse off a film since it becomes very
difficult to be who you are in real life after playing so many
fictitious characters. Have you ever had a similar
A. He only a takes two hour bath? It takes me
two weeks of doing nothing to get out of a character. It is because
when you are living another person's life, to come back to being
who you are, completely takes a while. But trust me, Shahrukh made
it sound really cool!
Q. If you had to choose a character to do a biopic, what
would that be?
A. Meena Kumari.
Q. If not you, then which actress do you think could
have been the face of Kahaani 2?
A. There would be no Kahaani because I would shoot down Sujoy Ghosh. (bursts into laughter)