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Thursday, 13 June 2013

Decoding Vidya Balan

 Vidya Balan upcoming film ‘Ghanchakkar’ will see her playing a Punjabi housewife. Like in her other films, her look is quite different.
    Despite not being endowed with the 'waif-thin' structure which most Bollywood heroines sport, she has a filmography most actors would envy in terms of box-office success. But Vidya’s journey to this pinnacle of success has been anything but smooth.
    While pursuing her master's degree, Balan was cast as the female lead in the Malayalam film Chakram, opposite Mohanlal, and was subsequently signed on for twelve other Malayalam language films. However the film was shelved and the producers blamed her for jinxing the project. In 2001, she was cast as the female lead in N. Linguswamy's Run (2002). However, after completing the first shooting schedule of the film, she was unceremoniously dropped and replaced by Meera Jasmine. 

    After failing to start a film career, Balan appeared in approximately sixty television commercials and in music videos for Euphoria and Shubha Mudgal; In 2003, she was signed on by Goutam Halder for his independent Bengali drama Bhalo Theko, her first film releaseThe film won her an Anandalok Purashkar for Best Actress.

    It was Pradeep Sarkar’s Parineeta which made the critics and the audiences take notice of her. However, Sarkar made her undergo extensive auditons to play the part of Lalita. Parineeta fetched her the Best Debut award and a nomination for Best Actress at Filmfare Awards.
    The following year, Balan appeared opposite Sanjay Dutt in Rajkumar Hirani's comedy film Lage Raho Munna Bhai. She portrayed the role of Jahnvi, a radio jockey and the love interest of the protagonist Munna Bhai. To prepare for her role, she met with a couple of radio jockeys and watched them at work.

    In 2007, Balan featured in a supporting role in Mani Ratnam's semi-biographical drama Guru as a woman suffering from multiple sclerosis. However her role was too small amidst the ensemble cast.

    After that came Nikhil Advani's Salaam-e-Ishq and Vidhu Vinod Chopra's suspense thriller Eklavya. While both films failed miserable at the box office but Vidya shone in both the films.
    Like every rising star, she also had to bear the brunt of critics when they boo booed her choice of wardrobe in Sajid Khan’s Hey Baby and Kismat Konnection. Everything right from her makeup to her dresses were unflattering which got her a lot of flak.

    Things changed for better when Balan played the role of an unwed gynaecologist struggling with her 12-year-old son's progeria syndrome, in the R. Balki’s Paa. Well received by critics, the film was the major turning point in her career.
    Balan followed the success of Paa with Vishal Bhardwaj's Ishqiya (2010), a black comedy directed by debutant Abhishek Chaubey; co-starring Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi. Vidya’s role as a sexually manipulative woman was a bold one which completely defied the conventional portrayal of women in cinema. Her work in the film earned Balan a Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress, a second consecutive Best Actress award at Screen and a nomination for Best Actress at Filmfare. 

    Raj Kumar Gupta's semi-biographical thriller No One Killed Jessica, alongside Rani Mukerji saw Balan portray the real-life character of Sabrina Lal, Jessica's reticent sister. No One Killed Jessica met with contrasting reviews from critics, but Balan's performance was particularly praised.
    But it was Ekta Kapoor’s The Dirty Picture, a biopic based on the life and death of the controversial Indian actress Silk Smitha which changed her careergraph for good. Vidya’s depiction of Silk’s brazenness and in-your-face sexualitywas described as the "boldest" she had ever played. The film opened to major critical acclaim, and Balan received unanimous praise for her portrayal which several reviewers regarded as her best performance to date.

    Vidya starred as Vidya Bagchi, a pregnant woman in search of her missing husband in Sujoy Ghosh's Kahaani (2012). The thriller, set in Kolkata during the Durga Puja festivities, met with wide critical acclaim. To lend authenticity to her part, Balan met several pregnant women and learnt about their lifestyle. Kahaani emerged as a major commercial success both at the domestic and international box office, with revenues of over Rs 104 crore.

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