Patcy N in Mumbai
From the mother of a 12-year-old boy (played by Amitabh Bachchan, no less) in Paa to a seductive widow in Ishqiya, Vidya Balan seems to want to try out the whole range of acting.
Ishqiya sees the actress seduce two con men -- played by Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi -- and spew a lot of abusive language. She takes Patcy N through her experience.
You have done a range of movies and roles like Parineeta, Heyy Babyy and Paa.
As an actor, I don't think I have an agenda about doing only certain kind of films. If something excites me, I do it. I want to do something new and challenging, not the same old things. There's no genre that I prefer. But I'm dying to do a comedy.
'I do get upset when people say nasty things'
You're great on screen. But your dressing sense gets you a lot of flak. Does that upset you?
Initially, it would upset me. But I have reached a stage where I could not care less. My dress sense has become a national issue. I am here to be an actor. Clothes are not a big issue; I don't make them. But no one else can perform for me, and no one can take that away from me either.
But I do get upset when people say nasty things.
How much have your films like Parineeta and Paa boosted your confidence?
Every film and every day that you spend working on the sets boosts your confidence and humbles you. That's when you realise there is so much to learn and discover. When a film like Paa does well, it is very encouraging and gratifying. It validates your belief in good cinema.
'I am enjoying this phase where different kinds of roles are offered to me'
What made you say yes to Abhishek Chaubey's Ishqiya?
Abhishek inspired faith in me in the very first meeting. I loved the script and my role. Of course, it helped that Vishal Bhardwaj was producing the film. So I knew justice would be done to the film.
Naseeruddin Shah is a very senior actor. He fits the part he is playing. Good cinema works. But for a bad film, even if you can stand on your head, it won't work. These lines between commercial and art cinema does not exist any more. Actors are now playing characters. People get a sense of the film when they watch the promos.
In your last film Paa, you played an unmarried mother. In Ishqiya, you play a seductive widow. Aren't you taking risks by taking up such roles?
I'm not thinking about risks. I am enjoying this phase where different kinds of roles are offered to me. This is what you want as an actor. That's why I don't compare myself to anyone else.
'Awards are just icing on the cake'
What does winning awards for Paa mean to you?
Everyone tells me that I was very convincing or that they were moved by my performance. Awards are just icing on the cake.
Your films like Kismat Konnection and Halla Bol failed. What lessons did you learn from that?
I don't look at them as failures. One goes through a learning curve. Some films work and some don't. But as an artist, it is not a death phase. You keep learning lessons all the time. If a certain project takes time to start, you have to wait patiently. That's an important lesson that I have learned.
What do you look for in a script?
I need to find the story exciting. If the plot is half-baked but the treatment is exciting, then I go for it.
Other important things are my role in it and how I connect with the director. Also, I want the producers to be good. I want them to do justice to the effort I'm putting in the film. I don't mean money; I mean publicity.
'I am not a trained actor'
You did not have a Bollywood connection before you entered the industry. How do you know which roles to choose?
I just go by my gut. I am not a trained actor. No one has taught me how to read and analyse a script. But the more scripts you read over a period of time, the more movies you do, you get a sense of what works and what does not. Sometimes you may get a fabulous script but it may not work for me as an actor.
You are in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Chenab Gandhi?
Yes. It is a love story set against the backdrop of the freedom struggle. I cannot talk about it yet.
You're also playing Jessica in the reel life portrayal of her murder?
Yes. Raj Kumar Gupta of Aamir fame will be directing it. But I don't want to talk about it.
I will be at home for nine months and then my shooting will start. I am reading scripts now.
My films with Nikhil Advani and Milan Luthria have been postponed. Nikhil is busy with Patiala House right now.
Recently, you commented on your relationship with Shahid Kapoor.
I did not. It was misrepresented. I did not comment on my relationship with any specific person. I did not take any name. I did not blame anyone.