‘If you can assure me that whatever I say will not be held against me when my film goes for a censor certificate, I will open my mouth.’
‘I think Priyanka is too cool; very proud to see her standing with stalwarts from around the world. Each time I watch her, I just want to say, ‘Go Priyanka go!’
She’s been away, and it seems like it’s been too long since we’ve seen her light up the screen.
But now, Vidya Balan is back with a vengeance with four films in her kitty.
The actress, who is known for her acting prowess, her warm smile and for cocking a snook at established norms of fashion and physical appearance, is clearly raring to go.
She will talk about her films, she tells Rediff.com contributor Rajul Hegde, but she won’t say a word about the censor board.
It looks like you are back with renewed energy after your break.
I was unwell for a while and did not work because I realised I had to rest and focus on developing healthy habits.
I started working when I was in college. I realised what work meant to me during this enforced rest, which is why there is this hunger to work.
This year I am working harder than I have ever worked in my career. I completed TE3N in January. Then I shot for Kahaani 2. I will start shooting for Begum Jaan and then a biopic on Kamala Das.
I am not complaining. I am raring to go (laughs).
This is the first time you are playing a cop in a film. How excited were you?
Yes. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to wear the uniform. Director Ribhu (Dasgupta) has to make a sequel.
I like the power a cop wields. I think I have used it in the right way, as the script demanded. I have been waiting to unleash my power on people by playing a cop (laughs). Finally, I got it.
You always say you are Bengali in your mind. You must have been very happy to be back in Kolkata for the shoot.
Yes, I always say I am a Bengali in my mind. I simply love staying and shooting in Kolkata.
Moreover, I know the place very well. But then, Ribhu showed me another Kolkata which surprised me a lot. I had never been to these places.
You’ll see a different kind of Kolkata in TE3N.
And you’re working with Amitabh Bachchan (Paa) and Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Kahaani) again.
I have only two scenes with Mr Bachchan but you never stop learning from him. I admire the fact that, even after so many years, he’s still so driven by the actor in him. It inspires me.
Nawaz and I did Kahaani together and there is that comfort level with him. We met after six years and spoke a lot on varied subjects.
After the success of The Dirty Picture, we heard you were offered many biopics?
Maybe I look like these people from an older generation (jokes).
Not many biopics were made when we came out with The Dirty Picture but now there are lots. We are making more and more films on real life people maybe because we don’t define our heroes in the same manner we used to. Also, it is more interesting to tell a story (this way).
Kahaani opened up the mystery-thriller genre commercially, but since then no thriller has seen that kind of success. Will TE3N and Kahaani 2 break the jinx?
I don’t know about that. But it was wonderful that the audience wasn’t giving away the end of Kahaani. Family members were telling each other, ‘Go and watch the film, it has got a great end.’
People loved the film so much that they didn’t want to take the joy and experience away from others.
Kahaani opened very small but it grew and collected Rs 60 crore at the box office. It had a pregnant woman rambling around, looking for her husband. Though it appeared women-centric, finally it catered to all kinds of audiences.
When The Dirty Picture released, people attributed its success to sex but Kahaani’s success baffled everybody. Guess the timing was right.
Is there any kind of pressure for Kahaani 2 with Kahaani being such a commercial success?
No, there is no pressure. In fact, we have an advantage because people loved Kahaani.
Kahaani 2 is a different film in terms of the story, so it can never be the same. Let’s hope it is better or as good.
Are you playing Vidya Bagchi again?
I don’t know (laughs).
You are associated with powerful roles. Don’t you feel the need to do light-hearted films?
I attempted comedy but itna funny nahi tha (Ghanchakkar). I still love that film. If I get another comedy film, of course I will do it. But also you need to find the right kind of comedy.
You have come a long way since your debut. What is the biggest lesson that you have learnt in these years?
It is never the end of the world.
I come from a non-filmi background. Earlier, when people would write something or if someone said something, I would react with, ‘Oh my God, the world’s looking at me in this fashion.'
Obviously, I didn’t feel great. But eventually, I realised what you read or hear is not everyone’s opinion; it will never be.
It was the biggest lesson to realise that there will never be a day when everyone praises or criticises you, so don’t take it all that seriously.
That’s when I stopped reading about myself and watching any entertainment news. I keep away from all that, so all’s good in the world.
What do you have to say about the censor board’s current stand on cuts in films?
If you can assure me that whatever I say will not be held against me when my film goes for a censor certificate, I will open my mouth because it has become very tricky these days.
Sensitivities are very high. I don’t want to say something and get into trouble.
A film is not just about me; it’s the effort of so many people. It is important to be silent.
I don’t hold back, everyone has seen me speak, but when it comes to the Central Board of Film Certification, I don’t want to say anything.
Do you watch TV?
I watch lot of international series like House Of Cards, Mad Men, Luther.
I got to watch a little bit of the first episode of Quantico. I think Priyanka is too cool; very proud to see her standing with stalwarts from around the world. Each time I watch her, I just want to say, ‘Go Priyanka go!’
How are you prepping up for Begum Jaan (the Hindi adaptation of National Award-winning filmmaker Srijit Mukherji's Bengali film, Rajkahini) and the biopic on Kamala Das?
I haven’t started the preparation for Kamala Das. It will happen once I finish the shoot for Begum Jaan.
We are bunch of 11 women in Begum Jaan; that’s going to be great fun. I will be taking on the role of a brothel madam.
How similar is it to the original film?
I don’t think you can call it a remake. It’s based on Rajkahani, but it’s a different world because it’s set in Punjab. We will start shooting from June 18.