'You think of Sulu as someone who is sexy, sultry and intimate.'
'You don't imagine her to be someone clad in a sari and, even if she is in a sari, you think of her wearing a low-cut blouse, with her hair blowing in the breeze. But she is not sexualised that way.'
And yet, Vidya Balan gets ready to seduce you again.
Settled in a cozy white cabin on a hot Wednesday afternoon in Mumbai, Vidya Balan is like her character in her new film, Tumhari Sulu -- warm, fun, happy and carefree.
The actress sips water from her mason jar as she complains about the heat in the city.
With an infectious smile, she candidy discusses her film with Rediff.com's Urvi Parikh.
You said Tumhari Sulu is a breezy film and you were dying to shoot it. How was the experience?
It was exceptional.
Firstly, because of her character. I identify with her a lot. I am just like her -- restless and waiting to try out new things, to move on, get ahead, looking for reasons to smile, laugh.
She laughs at herself and at others. I could identify with that trait.
She is one of those who will say, 'Main kar sakti hoon' (I can do it).
She is happy being a homemaker but she also wants to try different things. It was so refreshing because my past few films have been serious.
It was all in the script and (director) Suresh Triveni has done a marvellous job. He brought the character alive.
Working under his direction was an amazing experience. Every unit member was invested in this film because Suresh kept the environment like that.
Since Sulu's character is relatable. Is that one of the reasons why you signed up for this film?
With every character, I need a point of identification. Only then I can play her.
I found Sulu very relatable because I come from a middle class family. I know what it is like when you are happy with what you have.
I have grown up with my family in Chembur (in suburban Mumbai). It wasn't like we had to travel abroad, have cars... we were absolutely content with whatever we had.
It never struck me that I should move out of that place.
I love that bit about Sulu. She is not a housewife who is bogged down by responsibilities, family or is lonely. She has a zest for life. Sulu is an enthu cutlet!
What is the most interesting thing about Sulu?
You think of her as someone who is sexy, sultry and intimate, especially since she is an RJ. You imagine her a certain way.
You don't imagine her to be someone clad in a sari; even if she is in a sari, you think of her wearing a low-cut blouse, with her hair blowing in the breeze. But she is not sexualised that way (laughs).
You played a RJ in Lage Raho Munnabhai. Did that preparation help you this time with Tumhari Sulu?
That was morning, this is night (laughs).
The training that I took during Lage Raho Munnabhai was very helpful.
Then, I didn't know how it was. Radio was new 11 years ago. I remember I had to go to radio stations to see how they use the consoles. I had to see which style I had to imbibe for the film.
Raju (Rajkumar Hirani, director) wanted me to listen to Malishka (Mendonsa, one of Mumbai's most popular RJs, who is also part of Tumhari Sulu) and say 'good morning' like she did.
This time around, that preparation was already done.
Also, after Munnabhai, I have been going to radio stations for movie promotions for 11 years.
This time, I intently listened to one or two late night shows and realised some of them speak in double entendres. But these things were already in the script; I had to blindly follow it.
I would sit with Vijay Morya, the co-writer, to learn the way of talking, which is like words slipping into each other. It's a more colloquial way of speaking, but not completely Bambaiya.
Does being sexy come naturally to you?
(laughs) As a matter of fact, I thought we would shoot and then Suresh would get the sensual bits dubbed later.
But he was shocked that I even asked him about that.
I told him, 'You want it to sound sexy, na?'
So he asked, 'Did you hear yourself?'
I was like, 'Really...?'
It was kind of effortless. I didn't think about anything. I just tried talking in a slightly husky tone.
How was it working with Manav Kaul?
I had seen him in Kai Po Che and felt he was amazing.
But I didn't interact with him. I met him for the first time during the film. He was chilled out. The minute we met, the ice broke.
There was a certain trust. We weren't in competition and we weren't insecure. He wasn't insecure that the film was called Tumhari Sulu.
Your last release Begum Jaan did not do well. Were you disappointed?
It's always disappointing.
But thankfully, this time, it didn't feel it much because the movie released on April 13 and, the next day, I had to start my sittings for Tumhari Sulu. We began shooting the film on April 26. So there was no time to think.
I thought to myself that I should always do this. On the day one of my films release, I should start the prep for my next movie (laughs).
I always hope the films do well though I don't have a figure in my head.
Do you agree that content is king?
Content isn't the king, it's the queen!
I feel very, very blessed about the audience's love and expectations from me.
Today, more than ever, there is no one type of a film working. You have Judwaa 2 and Golmaal Again on one side and you have Shubh Mangal Saavdhan and Bareilly Ki Barfi on the other. Then, you have Newton and Lipstick Under My Burkha as well. All the films are completely different.
People aren't saying they will watch only this genre or actor. They are demanding good content.
Do you believe that promotions help in bringing in the audiences?
Actually, promotions don't bring in audiences.
People watch the trailer and decide if they want to watch the film. Promotions are a way of hammering into people's minds that we are coming on so and so date. This is so that, if they like the trailer, then they will land up in the theatre.
I don't think promotions serve any other purpose and people are understanding it slowly.
I enjoy promoting a film but we should stop doing it. It has become too much. It is the same thing over and over again.
I feel you don't need to promote anymore films today. Doing 20 interviews and talking about my character isn't exciting. During Lage Raho Munnabhai, getting a Sanjay Dutt talk about his character was a big thing. Now, we are everywhere.
But actors and producers feel insecure. They feel that what if the promotions have the slightest impact...
Most stars are tired of promotions but, if they don't do it and the film fails, they feel kar lena chahiye tha (should have done it).
How was it grooving to the recreated version of Sridevi's Hawa hawai?
We haven't recreated it. It is impossible to recreate a Sridevi song. I was happy I got to do it because, all my life, I have danced to Hawa hawai. It is an energetic song on which you want to dance. And whether you like it or no, you cannot help but think of Sridevi.
I remember Shekhar Kapur's quote at that time. My sister told me Shekhar Kapur had said, 'I didn't know what to shoot -- Sridevi's face or feet because if I did a close up of her feet, I realised I was missing out on her face and vice versa'.
I wonder what would it be like to be on the sets of that film. If there was a time machine, I would want to go back in time and visit the sets of Mr India and watch Sridevi dance.
We plan to show the song to her.
I have told her that I am not recreating your song, just paying tribute to you. She was very happy. She is so gentle and lovely.
What was your husband Siddharth Roy Kapur's reaction to the trailer of Tumhari Sulu?
He loved the trailer and me in it. He hasn't seen the film yet. I have and I think it's good (smiles, taps the table saying, 'Touch wood!').
I haven't decided. I was reading scripts until two weeks ago. I will take a call after Tumhari Sulu releases. I am a little torn between two films -- that's always the case with me.
There were reports of you being approached to play Indira Gandhi in a film. Any truth to it?
I was approached a long time ago but I said no. Unless the permissions are sorted, I will not invest that kind of time and energy in the film. It will be painful and heartbreaking if it doesn't release.
I am dying to play Indira Gandhi.