Vidya Balan: scripting her way out of getting typecast in Bollywood

A producer, worried she was a ‘jinx’, replaced Ms. Balan, telling her she did not look like heroine material. “For six months, I could not gather the courage to look at myself in the mirror,” she said.

February 26, 2023 01:45 am | Updated 01:49 am IST - CHENNAI

Vidya Balan in a conversation with Faye D’Souza, in Chennai on Friday.

Vidya Balan in a conversation with Faye D’Souza, in Chennai on Friday. | Photo Credit: R. Ravindran

From a traditional family background and being typecast in her early days in the industry, actress Vidya Balan has spent much of her career breaking the mould. In a conversation with journalist Faye D’Souza at a curated evening for invited guests at The Hindu Lit for Life, Ms. Balan traced her journey.

“I hail from a typical TamBrahm family where joining the film industry was never an option. Like most parents, mine too were not in favour of me joining the industry. However, as a child, I grew up watching Madhuri Dikshit dancing to Ek Do Teen and that created in me a burning desire to dance and act,” she reminisced.

As a movie lover herself, she shared that her favourite movie was the Kamal Haasan-starrer Michael Madana Kama Rajan, while her favourite song is Aduthathu Ambujatha Pathela, from Edhir Neechal.

Ms. Balan’s first audition was for a television show. “In 1995, I auditioned for Hum Paanch. I went to Film City with my mother and sister, and we waited all day.” She finally got a role, but had to drop out, as she had extremely low attendance in college and her parents told her in no uncertain terms that she could not compromise her studies.

The actress spoke about being dropped from several films as she was considered a jinx after her first film with a famous director was shelved. “When another producer replaced me in a film, he couldn’t tell me that I was a jinx. He instead said I didn’t look like heroine material. They made me feel so ugly that, for six months, I could not gather the courage to look at myself in the mirror,” Ms. Balan said.

Finally, her big break came with Parineeta, and there was no looking back. “I didn’t choose Parineeta; Parineeta chose me,” she said. After being typecast as the typical girl-next-door in several movies, she got an opportunity to play off-beat characters in movies like Ishqiya and The Dirty Picture, where she portrayed actor Silk Smitha.

If the opportunity presents itself, her wish is to portray eminent Carnatic musician M.S. Subbulakshmi, another South Indian woman who broke the mould.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.