Exclusive! Vidya Balan: A producer once said, 'Look at her face, does she look like a heroine?'
Vidya Balan talks exclusively during mid-day's Sit With Hitlist and sheds light on the rejections she has faced in her career, her parents' advice gone right and how a producer once said, 'Look at her face, does she look like a heroine?'
Vidya Balan has completed 15 glorious years in Hindi Cinema. She's had a journey filled with highs and lows, there have been some massive hits and some crippling blows. But beyond her success and failure, the actress has also gone through a spate of rejections.
And in an interview with Mayank Shekhar for mid-day's Sit With Hitlist, Vidya Balan spoke about being rejected in multiple films, parents' advice gone right, and how a producer once said, "Look at her face, does she look like a heroine?"
Watch the full interview right here:
First, she made a revelation that she was supposed to be a part of 15-20 shows. "They didn't take off, I don't know what happened," Balan said. She added, "Some of these shows got syndicated to other channels, but it just didn't happen."
And her first film was supposed to be with Mohanlal. She's asked if there's any footage of that film available, she says, "I'm sure there's footage and you know that footage was seen by a lot of people which is why I got offered 7-8 Malayalam films after that with some of the biggest directors. All of these were on call, they would narrate me the story on call and fix the remuneration."
She adds, "And then I got replaced in each one of them, my mom would know about them from the Malayalam magazines. That was a crazy period, from 2000-2003. Everything I touched turned to dust. It was crazy. I once remember walking from Nariman Point to Bandra just because I wanted to clear my head. It was scorching, hot as hell, but you know in films a protagonist just walks and walks, runs and runs, that literally happened to me."
She continues, "This was the time when I had signed two films with K. Balachander who had made Ek Duuje Ke Liye. And I was to leave sometime in February, we were to shoot the film in New Zealand. I thought they would ask for my passport, three weeks to the shoot and they hadn't. We called them but they were ducking our calls. My mom then called his daughter and she said, 'Really sorry but we have decided to go with an established actor.'"
She further adds, "I remember it was that day when I walked. I took a cab to Nariman Point, sat there for a while and walked back to Bandra. There was another Tamil film in which I was replaced after the first schedule and I remember when I called the producer, he was sounding very wishy-washy. My poor parents, what have they been through, they actually flew with me to Chennai. We went to the producer's office and he said, 'Just look at her face, does she look like a heroine?' Six months after that, I didn't look into the mirror."
She narrates another incident about another Tamil film and this is what she has to reveal, "There was another Tamil film that I left because it was a sex comedy and that was not something I had signed up for. And they ended up suing me at the age of 22. (Laughs)"
The next question is about her refusal to sign a film opposite Kamal Haasan after the release and success of her debut film Parineeta in 2005, and this is what she says, "Yes, this is true. So I met the producer, I'm not going to name him, at the airport and he said 'Do you remember me?', I said yes I do. He said he saw Lage Raho Munna Bhai and they wanted to sign me for the film. I asked him to talk to my manager and gave him his number."
She adds, "When I came back home, my father felt a great sense of validation. Earlier, they felt humiliated for me. My parents have brought us up to believe that the world is a fair place and that the universe takes time. It was the same producer my parents met. Kamal Haasan then called me for the film and I love Kamal Haasan, but the only reason I couldn't do the film was that he required six months of my time and I had just started my career here. I couldn't afford six months."
She then talks about her ups and downs in Mumbai. She says, "I remember during Heyy Babyy, people said it's a witch hunt. I don't believe in these things. I feel I'm too inconsequential for someone to plan a witch-hunt. But whatever it is, at one point I felt my dressing sense had become an issue of national interest. There was nobody to tell me that today's newspaper is tomorrow's toilet paper. My parents were also getting affected, especially my mother."
She continues, "There was that phase when I was not getting the kind of work I wanted to be doing. I thought maybe my career has been a fluke. I was not good in these films, Heyy Babyy and Kismat Konnection. I actually stuck out like a sore thumb. Some of the reviews of Heyy Babyy didn't even mention me and I was the leading lady of the film. That's also sexism at its very best. I told myself- 'The party is over.'
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