Six months post-marriage, Vidya Balan’s first release of the year Ghanchakkar is set to hit the screens soon. The actor opens up about the film, her family and friends to Harshikaa Udasi
Vidya Balan is a non-conformist. “I don’t understand people’s obsession with perfection and uniformity in everything,” the actor says. It appears to be a good mantra to live life on her own terms because though she has been written off by the film world on a couple of occasions, she has struck back with her acting prowess and shocking box office numbers. Shocking, because nobody expects heroines to rake in the moolah, but Vidya has done it!
Six months into her marriage with UTV Motion Pictures’ CEO Siddharth Roy Kapoor, Vidya awaits her first release of the year — Rajkumar Gupta’s Ghanchakkar with Emraan Hashmi. She has another release in December — Shaadi Ke Side Effects with Farhan Akhtar. She is also about to announce two films by the end of this month. There is never a dull moment in Vidya’s life, but she takes a break to chat about love, decode the Indian middle-class woman, ‘friends’ in the film world and more.
Can we expect the unexpected from you every time?
I don’t know about the unexpected but I am doing different things and having a ball. My role in Ghanchakkar is eccentric. Neetu is the most bizarre, outlandish woman I have ever played. She wears clothes that don’t suit her. She is a housewife who does things to entertain herself, despite not having the means. She is someone who wouldn’t visit malls yet wants to look up-to-date. She acquires old fashion magazines to design a look for herself, and adds her own touches to it, which only makes it worse. But she is unapologetic about it.
In an earlier interview, you had mentioned there is much more to Neetu’s life than this. What’s the mystery element?
Neetu needs to spice up her life because the mundane does get to a housewife. So there is a bit of mystery as to why she does what she does but I am not allowed to reveal it!
How did you agree to play this loud Punjabi difficult-to-decode housewife?
Neetu’s style of functioning and her dress sense may seem bizarre. But it’s endearing in a way. Besides I liked the way Rajkumar (who has earlier directed Vidya in No One Killed Jessica) has combined comedy and thriller. I knew he had a flair for comedy. That one scene in NOKJ where Sabrina laughs out at a joke in a serious courtroom scene would vouch for it. It was why I agreed to do NOKJ. Rajkumar has a quirky sense of humour; he could see the unexpected in the regular. In Ghanchakkar, he offered me something different from NOKJ.
I questioned him a hundred times about it. I had just finished The Dirty Picture and begun working out but he told me I had to retain my weight. I was in no mood to. My clothes for Ghanchakkar were not flattering and I was unhappy about it. I asked him why I should play yet another loudmouthed, in-your-face character, though Neetu and Smitha are very different, and he asked me why I shouldn’t! He emotionally blackmailed me into playing Neetu just as he had for Sabrina. He told me he wouldn’t make the film at all. That’s how I was convinced into playing this character and how I embraced two of the things I have been most criticised for — my weight and my dress sense! This was me saying, ‘I love and accept myself’!
You and Emraan are quite similar in that both of you have broken stereotypes. How did you get along with him?
Unlike The Dirty Picture where we must have shared four lines off-screen, Emraan and I had good conversations during the filming of Ghanchakkar. I think during TDP I was too consumed by Smitha and the prosthetics and all of the baggage didn’t allow me to interact too much. Emraan is someone who has half the world’s women going crazy after him but when he is there on the set no one is even aware of his presence because he retreats to a corner and is busy gaming on his phone or something. But I think by the time we do a third film together, he might beat me in the talking department. He has squeezed the script into his character. The man is professional and punctual. He is also something like Jay in Sholay. He can say the scariest things with a straight face, especially about marriage. A week before I got married, he told me, ‘Good. Getting married to the person you love? You’ll be happy for a month’. And he has strange doomsday conspiracies running in his head, at least about me.
So has Emraan been proved wrong?
(Laughs aloud) Six months now. But Siddharth and I have spent a lot of time apart. We have both been travelling quite a bit. Marriage is good unlike what most people make it out to be. Or at least what Emraan does. I think his wife’s going to kill him!
Veering towards production or direction sometime in the future?
Not at all. I am too greedy as an actor. While helming a project either as a producer or a director, you have to deal with so many people. As an actor, when I am in character there is quite enough to handle. I couldn’t be bothered with anyone else.
How have you made your peace with the people who once pulled you down and are now praising you to the skies?
I don’t have to live with them. I live with my family. I am not a Buddha or anything, but when you feel low you see people in a different light, and differently when you are on a high. I don’t let it hurt me any more. I sometimes step back and think even I have said nasty things about people, though not publicly. So it’s okay. But I must admit that this realisation has come only now when I am over that phase. Also, I’d like to say I am not here to make friends. However, there are people I am fond of and I like a happy, conducive work atmosphere. What you’ve worked on will live forever, after all. Nothing else will.