Vidya Balan is not just the leading face of feminism and women-centric films in Hindi cinema. She is also someone who is quite vocal about the gender bias in the society and the need to change it.
In a candid chat with Hindustan Times, the actor opens about sexism in the film industry, working in women-centric films, her upcoming release Tumhari Sulu and much more.
The Ishqiya star made it clear that she has not faced sexual harassment “but sexism is everywhere”.
“It is inherent in our attitude and we see it every day in different walks of life. It is about seeing everything from the male point of view. Of course, later I charted my own course and took charge of everything,” she said, adding that in the last 10 years, she has not faced the issue as “there is a certain kind of cinema that I work in”.
“But in my initial 2–3 years in the industry, I faced a lot of sexism, and it used to get my goat,” she said.
“There was this one extremely stressful incident. I was supposed to shoot for two films simultaneously,” she said, refusing to name them. “One of them got delayed because the hero didn’t have dates. When I started working on the second one, they wouldn’t begin the shoot as their hero had different dates. Only the hero’s opinions and dates mattered,” she complained.
Asked if there was a reason why she became the face of films with strong female characters in today’s cinema, the Parineeta star felt it was a matter of timing.
“Nowadays, we see more women coming into their own personalities and becoming aware of the fact that they have the first right over their bodies and minds. I think I was lucky as I got such author-backed roles quite early in my career.
“I entered the industry in 2005 and by 2008, I began working for Ishqiya. Before that, I did a few films that I thought were the right thing to do but did not enjoy working in those. These were Kismet Konnection and Heyy Baby. After Ishqiya, I decided I will only work for films that really interest me,” she said.
On her films that are closest to her heart, Vidya is spot on with: “Parineeta, because it was my first film; Kahaani, because it was a special shooting experience, and Tumhari Sulu, because of the kind of energy that we shared on the sets.”
On Tumhari Sulu that releases on November 17, Vidya said it is the story of a housewife who chances upon a job after being the homemaker for 12 years.
“The joy and thrill that you experience when you first step out there, is what makes Sulu’s journey exciting and interesting.”
Talking about her experience of shooting the Suresh Triveni film, the leading lady of Kahaani said, “The best thing about the film is the team. The kind of energy and craziness all of us had and how Suresh channelised it all into the film is wonderful.”
However, all was not well with the shooting as much of it was done in the peak of summer in Mumbai.
“It was supposed to be a middle-class house with no AC. So, it was very hot,” she said, however, adding that it wasn’t too hot for as she had shot Begum Jaan in Jharkhand’s summer.
On Padmavati Row
Reacting to the protests against Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Deepika Padukone-starrer Padmavati, Vidya said, “I believe films are someone’s imagination. They shouldn’t be taken too seriously. People should watch the film and then, if they don’t like it, they can always express that. If they don’t like it, then simply don’t watch it. But let the film release and allow people to watch it!”