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BHUMIKA K.
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INTERVIEW Vidya Balan speaks to BHUMIKA K. about moving out of her comfort zone for “The Dirty Picture”

retro chic Vidya Balan Photo: K. Murali Kumar
retro chic Vidya Balan Photo: K. Murali Kumar

E very heroine plays sexy in Hindi cinema today. But, doing an in-the-face act in a film on an actor's sexuality — that is plucky. Vidya Balan deserves a pat for making that audacious attempt in “The Dirty Picture”.

The Ekta Kapoor-produced Milan Luthria-directed film, set for release on December 2, is already scorching people's minds with its heavy-duty promos that reprise the cinema of the 80s. There's been enough controversy kicked up about the film being based on iconic Silk Smitha's life, about Vidya Balan never being able to match up to Smitha's sensuality and about Smitha's brother challenging the film in court.

As for Vidya, the actor says that with this film, she has stepped out of her comfort zone. “I've unleashed myself,” says Vidya, who has been living her filmi look during the promos — all retro chic with wedge heels, huge plastic goggles, hoop earrings, pink floral dress, purple nail enamel…

“I don't adhere to any image trap…I don't want to be repeating a Vidya Balan,” emphasises the actor, who, after her critically acclaimed 2005 debut “Parineeta” actually managed to not be typecast, with films as diverse as “Lage Raho Munna Bhai”, “Heyy Baby”, “Paa”, “Ishqiya” and “No One Killed Jessica”. Vidya agrees. “I've had ample opportunities to play different characters on screen. Directors have also invested faith in me. In fact, many have told me I'm brave to do this role.”

Vidya says her role in the film is that of a “dancing star in the 80s who wears her heart and sexuality on her sleeve. She is brazen about it and that attitude has made her a star”. “The film is not based on the life of Silk Smitha… but she is synonymous with dancing stars of that era,” she adds.

New facet

The actor admits this is her toughest role till date. “On the one hand, she's volatile and brazen. On the other, she's childlike. To translate that on screen was tough. My roles so far hadn't given me an opportunity to explore that side of me.” To prepare, she watched some films of the time, especially songs that had suggestive gestures and over-the-top movements. Added to that, was her imagination and inputs from the director.

When she switched from sari-clad “Parineeta” to a hipper role in “Kismat Konnection”, critics went all out to pan her. “I completely understand them. My heart wasn't in it; I had no conviction and it showed. But, with my role in ‘The Dirty Picture', people have been embracing me with open arms!” she says. To accentuate the “wholesome woman” she had to play on screen, Vidya was asked to put on weight. “I have a weakness for cream biscuits and I indulged. In the last 15 years, I haven't eaten the kind of desserts I did in the run-up to this film,” she says. She also got to indulge in her other weakness, saris. “I celebrate my curves and the sari does complete justice to that. I always wear cottons or Kanjivarams, but for the film we went in for some jhatak saris,” she laughs.

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