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The mom in ‘Paa'

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Auro's mom is sensitive without being melodramatic, discloses Vidya Balan

By now, we all know that Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan share a unique bond in the ‘rare father-son, son-father story.' We also know that Auro (Amitabh) is 13-year-old boy who is prematurely old or suffers from progeria.

Enacting the role of a mother for a rapidly ageing child calls for some thought. Vidya Balan, when offered the role by director R. Balki, wasn't sure if she wanted to play a mother to 13-year-old Amitabh Bachchan. “I didn't know how to react. I was like ‘wow! Oh really? Let's start the narration.' I listened to his narration and liked the conviction with which Balki wanted to make this film. Balki was neither hesitant nor arrogant and I was bowled over. He told me he wrote the film with Amitabh, Abhishek and me in mind and if one of us turned it down, he wouldn't make it. Even then, I wanted time to think,” recaps Vidya.

Glad

Days before Paa's release, she is glad she accepted the part. “The actor in me liked the challenge but the vanity in me put forth obstacles,” she reflects. Once she came on board, she pored over books, browsed the net and watched documentaries on progeria. “I am a gynaecologist in the film and so I had to be informed,” she says. “The mother's role deals the child with sensitivity instead of being apologetic, evoking sympathy and indulging in melodrama. And the film is not about progeria. It's a family drama and there are other issues in focus,” explains Vidya.

Years ago, when Vidya was a student of St. Xavier's in Mumbai, she worked with an NGO that helped mentally challenged children and feels that experience helped her understand the psyche of exceptional children and their parents better.

“Otherwise, I am not great with children. I am affectionate towards children but not overtly maternal,” she says.

Vidya is now proud of having done Paa: “How many actresses have had the opportunity to act as Amitabh Bachchan's mother and that too a 13-year-old Amitabh?”

After Paa, Vidya looks forward to Vishal Bharadwaj's production Ishqiya, where she shares screen space with Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi.

Her role required her to get tough and even mouth a few slang words, which she never uses in real life.

SANGEETHA DEVI

DUNDOO

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