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I'm not here to champion women's empowerment: Vidya Balan

Back from her recent Cannes sojourn, Vidya Balan is at her confident best. The actress, who was widely slammed for her choice of wardrobe, says candidly that it’s her self-imposed rule not to read anything about herself that appears in the media.

Vidya Balan

What she wants to do next is to singularly focus on her films (her next is Rajkumar Gupta’s Ghanchakkar) and says she has stopped taking to heart all the brickbats that come her way. So much so that Vids doesn’t even discuss cinema at home with her producer-husband Siddharth Roy Kapur. An excerpt: 

After creating your own identity with your last few films, does it weigh on your mind before signing a new project?
I am not here to champion the women’s empowerment cause. I am primarily an actor and I have personal beliefs that determine the kind of work I do. In The Dirty Picture, my character was unapologetic about her body and she felt sexy. Many women came to me and told me they didn’t mind being curvy. It was one of the takeaways from the film but it was not planned. Similarly I don’t feel the need to give a message with every film I do.

After back-to-back serious films, was it a conscious decision to try your hand at comedy?
As an actor I don’t want to limit myself. I am not going to do films that only revolve around me. But at the same time the role has to be extremely substantial and needs to have enough for me as an actor.

So, you are open to all kinds of cinema?
Around four-five years back I decided that I would do work that I liked doing. I have never been happier. In fact, someone mentioned that I would be having a release after a gap of 15 months. I didn’t even think about it. I don’t think there are any rules or may be I am not following them (laughs). I think I am here for a lifetime and thankfully, I am not under any pressure.

Were you surprised when after No One Killed Jessica, Gupta offered you this film?
Absolutely! I told him why are you offering me a role that is so mad after doing NOKJ. The character is so loud and boisterous and I couldn’t do it again after The Dirty Picture. He told me he wouldn’t make the film without me. It was my first comedy and I was unsure. But I was also dying to do a comedy. But after reading the script, I fell in love with my character, who seemed to be so familiar.

How did you react to the brouhaha over your Cannes appearances?
To be very frank, I was unaware as while people were criticising here, I was actually doing my jury work there. I invariably don’t read anything about myself and that is another decision I have taken a few years back.

How do you keep criticism at bay?
I came to know about it (the wardrobe fiasco at Cannes) when I returned. I have stopped getting affected by what people say about me. Without sounding pompous, I just want to say that every time I walked out at Cannes, I felt good about myself. I feel blessed as I was interacting with the likes of Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee and the others and doing what I loved doing ever since my college days. I used to attend the MAMI film festival regularly and even watched five films in a day before joining the industry. I was enjoying those moments again.

With your husband being in the business of cinema, how much do you understand the economics now?
I don’t understand the business at all and we don’t discuss any of it either at home. I am very bad with numbers and that’s why I always maintain mein number game se pare hoon and apni duniya mein magan hoon.  

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