Dressed to kill…critics

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VIDYAJune 26:It almost seems like Vidya Balan is hitting back with a vengeance.In her next film Ghanchakkar, what’s being talked about, again, is her whacky sense of dressing, though it’s all in keeping with her character. But Vidya cares two hoots for image. “I tend to look at someone’s face…my eyes don’t go towards the body, the clothes. The face tells me much more — whether I want to meet and talk to that person, know that person a little more, it’s all there. This is probably why I don’t pay too much attention to clothes. There’s such an unfair amount of judgement surrounding women… that we derive such a large part of our identity from our bodies. As an actor and as a woman there’s so much emphasis on it.”

“The person we imagine has no body issues, has body issues! So obviously there’s something wrong somewhere. That’s when I realised I’m going to be happy the way I am. If someone has a problem, so be it,” she laughs. In Bangalore to promote Ghanchakkar, opening tomorrow, Vidya was dressed to kill…her critics. Ghanchakkar director Raj Kumar Gupta told Vidya that the clothes of her character, Neetu, were not going to be flattering. For the promo she dressed in character. “She’s one of those who wears what she likes. She’s a real person who knows nothing about fashion. She’ll see something in a magazine or people say lace is sexy and she believes she should get herself something in lace. She’s very basic.”

Of her own dressing she says: “Previously I used to be conscious and affected by what people said but now, more and more I’ve begun to do what I feel is good. If I look into the mirror and if I feel good, I walk out.”

As with her clothes, with each film she does, Vidya Balan throws up a surprise. From No One Killed Jessica (NOKJ) to The Dirty Picture, to Kahaani, Vidya’s played such diverse characters. “That’s a wonderful compliment. But I think I’m just a greedy actor. I have an insatiable appetite for schizophrenia,” she laughs heartily, before she continues: “To me, being an actor means to inhabit different worlds. To live different people’s lives. And I’m getting an opportunity to do that. I think it’s a great time for Hindi cinema and particularly for the Hindi film heroine — different kinds of parts are being written for her. We are not just being glorified and vilified anymore…”

Pointing out how Gupta, (RKG) who made NOKJ offered her this diametrically-opposite role, she says: “I’m sucker for the kind of faith that directors have shown in me. We no longer see heroines as uni-dimensional — either just as objects of desire or objects of virtue. Now we’re being offered roles as people, as human beings… we’re being personified literally. When RKG came to me with Ghanchakkar’s script he wrote with Parvez Sheikh, I loved it. The way comedy and thriller complemented each other, was fantastic. As a heroine, you’re expected to indulge your vanity as much as you can. And if I thought The Dirty Picture challenged my vanity, I must say this film just destroyed it!”

As a member of the jury at Cannes this year, what did she come away thinking of Indian films? “I actually feel proud of the kind of work that’s happening here and do think we deserve to be on international platforms with other films. Obviously there’s some slip between the cup and the lip. I don’t know how these things work, but I’m hoping we see more Indian representation in the main competition section at Cannes.” Next up is the release of Shaadi Ke Side Effects. But what the side effects of her own shaadi? “It’s wonderful living with your partner. It adds to the sense of security. I’ve been in and out of Bombay and have not seen my family for a week which is a BIG change for me because normally I would go back home from airport. Now I go home, but to another home. I’m missing them a lot. I’ve stayed for 33 years with my parents. So it’s a huge change for me.”

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