January 16 2018
I don’t want my persona to be bigger than my film character, says Vidya Balan
31 October 2017

At the ongoing Penguin Fever, Vidya Balan opened up on her career and recent controversies

“I have seen and lived the change. There is so much contradiction yet there is a tremendous optimism when I call myself a child of the republic,” said Shobha De on turning seventy as she launched her 20th novel, Seventy And to Hell With Itin the presence of actor Vidya Balan at the Penguin Fever festival at the India Habitat Centre. With topics ranging from politics to films, the evening celebrated the feminine spirit . Talking about women in the film industry, De observed women achieving newer heights through their work were always compared with what their male counterparts had achieved. “Just like Indira Gandhi was said to be the only man in her cabinet, it is very unfortunate that a female actor has to be the fourth Khan or termed as a hero. I would like to hear one of the Khans saying that he would to love become Vidya or he would love to be in her shoes. I fear that is unlikely to happen,” commented De in a conversation titled Zara Sa Jhoom Loo Main, moderated by journalist Sonia Singh.

Vidya, who is now a member of the Central Board of Film Certification, highlighted that women now have to continue their efforts against inequality. “It has reached a boiling point for us and women now are really angst-driven. We are angry goddesses and we need answers now. We are raring to go. We can’t wait to claim the world,” she said.

Agreeing with De, Vidya termed contemporary times as “definitive” one for Indian women and continued lauding the efforts of women who are defining themselves at the centre stage. Responding to whether Bollywood is giving an equal chance to its female actors to voice their concerns, she stated that people were not ready to accept female actors who have strong opinions and cited people’s reaction to recent comments of Kangana Ranaut on nepotism as abrasive. “The perception is as an actress, you are expected to be seen as desirable and desirable women are not intelligent, articulate and progressive. People don’t want to see a woman having an opinion, being intelligent as it is a threat to the status quo,” said Vidya.

She also detailed her apprehensions in her initial years when she used to have her mother accompany her to the sets and used to stay away from post shoot get-togethers. “I was always scared and thought of it (film industry) as a big bad world. I used to make sure that I do not come across as vulnerable. I come from a very secure and protective south Indian family so I had every chance to walk away. I also sensed my father’s worries. I think when your daughter steps out, you are worried!” recalled Vidya.

The presence of casting couch in the industry was highlighted numerous times by many actors but she asserted that these days casting couch did not exist as much as it used to because people were very scared of sting operations. “I never received any proposition from anyone in my twelve-year career. There were times when I could sense that something is creepy and I chose to walk away from that opportunity,” revealed Vidya.

Describing recent revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged behaviour by many female actors in Hollywood as acts of bravery, she asserted that female actors in Bollywood did not come out in support of each other because they did not want to be called troublemakers. “Harvey case could have been out very early but women chose to keep quiet as fingers are pointed at them. They are called names, people think you have grown up too big for your boots and consider them a troublemaker,” remarked Vidya.

On her new role

She did not want herself to be seen as someone having political affiliations and asserted that she feared giving comments on political issues because that could bring problems for hundreds of people associated with her films.

“I cannot think in isolation, and just about myself. It is not a cop out but it is how it is. I do not want my (off screen) persona to be bigger than my character in the film,” said Vidya.

Terming her new job as an opportunity to bring about a change, she asserted that she is on the same page with other committee members. “The entire film industry was thinking in a particular way for the previous board. Unless I agree to be the part of it or at least attempt to be, I do not have any right to criticise it. I do not want to over commit to the changes but that is you what one can witness in coming three years,” she said. She paused to think when asked about her reaction to remarks on GST in Mersal and maintained that if there were any issues, they had to be brought out before the film’s certification. “We should not get touchy about every little thing. Once the CBFC has cleared a film, it should be allowed to run as it has been cleared. The film is either someone’s imagination or interpretation and it should not be confused with making a political statement. People should have some sense of humour. I am saying it correctly as I have a release coming up in November,” laughed the actor, whose Tumhari Sulu is releasing soon.



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