I cried a lot at the end of every shot: Vidya Balan
Vidya Balan is one actress who does not speak unless asked to, but when she speaks she rarely minces words and airs her views as unabashedly as her roles. The recent episode at the airport—wherein the actress made sure she gave a fan an earful about his behaviour—aptly proves this.
Nonetheless, she is an endearing person. Quiz her about it and she laughs and says, “Maybe it’s a manufacturing defect.” On a thoughtful note, she adds, “I think it’s the liberal atmosphere at home. We are two sisters and my parents gave us a lot of freedom.
I am never scared of anything except for cats and lizards. Many a time, even when women touch me I don’t like it, especially when I am wearing sari. It just feels awkward,” she states.
Her next film, Begum Jaan, is about a woman who runs a brothel situated on the India-Pakistan border. This is touted to be Vidya’s most powerful role her career. “Begum Jaan is indeed a powerful role. I have never played nor met a powerful woman like her. She is fearlessly shameless yet powerful. She is not scared of anyone, nor bothered about who says what about her.
She lives her life the way she wants. All powerful women sometimes hesitate to use bad words, but she does it flawlessly and that’s what I love about her. I want to see and exude that kind of power,” says Vidya.
It is said that director Srijit Mukherji had first approached Vidya for the Bengali version Rajkhaini, but she had refused. Later, actress Rituparna Sengupta performed the role. “Rituparna has done a fabulous job. I don’t remember many films, and for me, every performance makes me feel in a certain way. I am not good at imitating or mimicking.
I am terrible at it. Srijit came to me with the Hindi version and didn’t have a script. He said please watch the film. I watched it and loved it. I consciously blocked Rituparna out of my memory and approached the role in my way, with a new tool. Srijit told me to do it my way. Rajkhaini starts and ends with the Partition, but Begum Jaan has a connect to recent times,” she says.
Vidya reveals that there were no references to the role either. “There were no references because I have never seen a character like her. She is physically violent. I have been a fan of many actresses who have played prostitute’s role, but Begum Jaan is different.”
Vidya says that the very thought of women going through the ordeal disturbed her. “They would sell themselves and let the men do anything to them, and there were no laws back then. That very thought troubled me immensely.”
Besides Vidya, the female cast of Begum Jaan includes Ila Arun, Gauhar Khan, Pallavi Sharda, Priyanka Sethia, Ridheema Tiwari, Flora Saini, Poonam Rajput, Mishti, and Gracy Goswami. However, the actress rues about not finding time to interact with them. “We were shooting in rough weather conditions. We reached Jharkhand in June and soon it started raining. We didn’t have time to interact due to our planned schedules.”
“I would cry a lot after every shooting as I was slapping around people in the movie. There was a girl who I thought locked her jaw after a slap. Although she recovered after a few moments, I couldn’t overcome the incident,” Vidya rues.
Unlike other actors, Vidya reveals that she takes time to get the character out of her system days after completing the shoot. “I wonder how other actors do that. I take my own time.”