Vidya Balan: 'Seeing strong female characters being written is exciting'

It’s almost impossible to pigeonhole Vidya Balan as an actress. Introduced to Bollywood as the quiet, unassuming Lalita in Parineeta in 2005, she has gone on to raise a few eyebrows with some daring, unconventional professional choices. During her 11-year career, her most notable roles have included: a woman suffering from multiple sclerosis, a manipulative […]

It’s almost impossible to pigeonhole Vidya Balan as an actress. Introduced to Bollywood as the quiet, unassuming Lalita in Parineeta in 2005, she has gone on to raise a few eyebrows with some daring, unconventional professional choices.

During her 11-year career, her most notable roles have included: a woman suffering from multiple sclerosis, a manipulative seductress, and an infamous adult-film star. There have been a few duds along the way, too, mostly lightweight romantic comedies, but those blips aside, Balan’s body of work is a lesson in successfully taking risks.

In Te3n (Three) – which was written and directed by Ribhu Dasgupta and co-stars Amitabh Bachchan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui – Balan, 38, plays a cop intent on solving a kidnapping.

She tells The National why she chooses such offbeat, sometimes controversial roles, her ­admiration for fellow actress ­Priyanka Chopra and what ­excites her about Bollywood.

What was it about Te3n that appealed to you?

I like the way it’s written. Ribhu has tried to experiment with the thriller genre and push the boundaries in terms of narrative. The movie is about three different approaches towards solving one crime – the kidnapping of a child. And of course, being in a movie with Amitabh Bachchan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui is the icing on the cake.

Tell us about your character, Sarita Sarkar.

It’s an extended special appearance – but I haven’t done something like this before. I play a no-nonsense cop. Then there is Nawaz, who plays a former police officer-turned-priest, and Amitji (Bachchan), who is the protagonist. These three characters made it a compelling story for me.

What excites you about ­Bollywood these days?

I love that people are really upping the game while writing characters for women. While some films work and some don’t, just being around at a time when strong female characters are being written is exciting. I’m not talking only about my own work – take Mary Kom (played by Priyanka Chopra), Queen (Kangana Ranaut) and Piku (Deepika Padukone) – these are unique movies with strong female characters.

What do you want to do next?

I am OK to do anything, actually. As long as it is a good role, I’ll go anywhere. Cinema is cinema, whether it is regional, Bollywood or world. I’m just looking forward to doing different things.

You are one of the few top actresses in Bollywood who isn’t actively pursuing Hollywood. Why?

I don’t know. I haven’t given it much thought. I haven’t really made an effort – I haven’t even hired an agent. Maybe I will, some day.

Why aren’t you more proactive with your PR and self-promotion, like many other actors? You only surface when you have a movie coming out and then step back out of the spotlight.

I think part of the reason is that I am in no hurry to do anything or get anywhere. I truly believe that I am going to be making films forever, so there’s no need to hustle and push. Also, I like being left alone when there is nothing important to say.

Who do you admire most in Bollywood right now?

Priyanka Chopra, undoubtedly, for smashing the glass ceiling so spectacularly. So many people boast about international ­projects but she just quietly signs them and gets things done. For her sheer gumption, I immensely admire her.

Te3n is in cinemas now

artslife@thenational.ae

Source: art & life

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