The Anandalok Purashkar brought Vidya Balan to Calcutta, where she had begun her career a few winters ago.
A t2 chat...
Are you excited to be back in Calcutta?
I am as excited as a child. Calcutta is like second home. Whenever anyone I knew would come to Calcutta, I would tell them to give my city a hug from me (smiles). I specially love Calcutta winters. In January I am going to be in the city for two weeks shooting for my second Bengali film (Gautam Halders Bijolibalar Mukti).
From Guru to Heyy Babyy and Bhool Bhulaiyaa, 2007 has been a fantastic year for you...
God has been very kind to me. Almost all my films have worked at the box office. I am especially excited about Bhool Bhulaiyaa because it wasnt a run-of-the-mill film. A lot of preparation went into my role. I had seen Shobanas performance in the original Malayalam film and was blown over. For me it was particularly difficult towards the end of the film where my character vents all her pent-up anger only through dance.
Your new look has drawn both appreciation and flak...
Someone I know told me something very beautiful. He said: Hum aapki adaakaari mein khaamiyaan nahi nikaal sakte, isliye aapke kapdon mein khaamiyaan dhoondte hain. I want that to be the case always (laughs). But I have realised that for an actor looking good is as important as ones performance. I have tried a new look in every film. I have decided to pay special attention to my looks and clothes from now on.
You opted out of quite a few films this year — Khoya Khoya Chand, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom and Laaga Chunari Mein Daag. Any regret?
I had turned down Khoya Khoya Chand in 2005 but people are talking about it now. I havent seen the film yet, so I cant really say whether I regret it or not. As for Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, I think Lara (Dutta) was great in the film and she carried off the outfits really well. I dont really think I would have been comfortable in those clothes and my awkwardness would have shown on screen.
But I will always rue the fact that I couldnt be a part of Dadas (Pradeep Sarkar) film because of date problems. Konkona (Sensharma) was brilliant in Laaga Chunari.... She is a great actress and leaves very little to the imagination and I dont think I would have been able to portray the character better than her.
Why a Bengali film at this stage of your career?
I realised my dream of being in films through Gautamdas Bhalo Theko. So when he approached me with Bijolibalar Mukti, there was no way I was going to turn it down. And if all goes well, I will do a film with Rituparno Ghosh very soon.
The year ahead also seems to be promising, starting with Halla Bol which releases in January…
Thats true. I have a small but very strong role in Halla Bol. Issue-based films are no longer made in Hindi cinema and I believe Halla Bol will spearhead that genre again. Having Ajay (Devgan) as a co-star has been fantastic. He will talk and smoke one minute and give a perfect shot the next minute. His intensity is admirable and intriguing.
Lucky Charm with Aziz Mirza also looks interesting...
Yes and I have a very interesting look in it. We shot in Toronto; the feel is a lot like Lage Raho Munnabhai.
What were the high points of 2007?
Lots really. I travelled a lot, my films did well and my sister who was living abroad is now back.
And the lows?
Heyy Babyy was a huge lesson as far as my looks and clothes were concerned. I am taking steps to ensure that it doesnt happen again.
You are being linked with Shahid Kapur...
Probably because he is single now and I have been single for the longest time possible (laughs). So, everyone makes it a point to link me with whoever they want to. I wont deny the fact that Shahid and I are very good friends. I feel very comfortable with him. But there is definitely no romance brewing.
You are most comfortable with Shahid Kapur/ Saif Ali Khan/ Shiney Ahuja:
Most definitely, Shahid. Saif was a senior actor when we did Parineeta and although Shiney and I are fine with each other, we havent really sat down and had a conversation.
The actor from whom you have learnt a lot on the sets — Akshay Kumar/ Sanjay Dutt/ Ajay Devgan:
I have learnt something from all three. From Akshay it has to be dedication, from Sanjay Dutt it has been humility and from Ajay Devgan I have learnt that one should never take anything in life too seriously.
Your best friend in the industry:
I wouldnt call her my best friend, but I am pretty close to Raima Sen.
One thing you will never do on screen:
As an actor, I dont think there is anything I can ever say that I wont. I am open to everything.
One film in 2007 that you would have liked to be a part of:
Jab We Met. Everything about the film was spot on — from the performances to the storyline, Imtiaz Alis direction to the music.
Vidya in western clothes or sari:
Vidya with long hair or short hair:
Since I am sporting short hair at the moment, I would go with that.
(Which is your favourite Vidya Balan film? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org)