Vidya Balan: Every relationship requires work to keep the spark alive
Vidya Balan in an exlcusive interview with mid-day talks about her next film Tumhari Sulu, her chemistry with co-actor Manav Kaul, and how she keeps the romance alive in her married life
The first poster of your upcoming film, Tumhari Sulu, saw you wearing a cape on a sari. Was it an intentional move to show that middle- class women can develop wings to fly and do more rather than just being housewives?
We wanted to show that a homemaker is a superwoman. It was not part of the original script. One day, the director [Suresh Triveni] and I were talking about our mums and how they did all the work, but never complained. Even if they were sick, they would send their kids to school and cook. This was our way to pay tribute to them. My character is content being a homemaker, but she aspires to try out new things. She is an enthu cutlet. On the first day at work, she feels like a superwoman because she realises she can do so many things.
Do you remember your first day at work?
It was for the shoot of a shoe brand. I thought people would come and say, 'She is lady Amitabh Bachchan or the new Shabana Azmi [laughs]'. I was on cloud nine. I was about to turn 16 and this was something I wanted to do for the longest time. I was nervous, yet excited because I thought this was my chance to conquer the world. Unfortunately, the ad never came on air [laughs].
Could you relate to the character in a better way since you come from a similar background?
I come from a middle-class South Indian family where acting was not even a thought. I consider myself blessed to have parents who understood the dreams and aspirations their daughters had. I value every single day when I go to work or even when I am promoting my films or brands because this is what I've wanted all my life. When I started out, I was even more enthusiastic as I didn't have anyone to guide me and it was like discovering something new every day.
Siddharth Roy Kapur with wife Vidya Balan
Your chemistry with co-actor Manav Kaul stands out in the trailer.
Normally, we have seen in films that couples are always unhappy with each other after marriage. But, our characters are completely different. We are happily married for 12 years, which is normally the case in society. It was the director's call to cast Manav. I had loved him in 'Kai Po Che' (2013). He has either done negative characters or serious roles. The director called us and took our pictures together. I remember Manav cracked a bad joke and I burst out laughing and that was it. We never did anything special to get the chemistry. It was organic. It was effortless to work with him.
You've been married for five years. How do you keep the romance alive despite a hectic schedule?
Because we have a hectic schedule and spend less time together our romance is going strong [laughs]. Every relationship requires work to keep the spark alive. In a normal scenario, a couple dates for a few years and then gets married - that is when they start taking each other for granted. When you are occupied with work, it teaches you not to take your partner for granted. It may seem complex, but it is easy to be a happy couple and stay like that despite the ups and downs in life.
We see Manav and you dancing on the bed and humming a song. Does that happen with your hubby Siddharth [Roy Kapur] too?
Yes, we do. There are times when we are listening to a song and we both start singing it or just remember the lyrics. It is fun. We have always been taught to lead a normal life; I am blessed to have a partner like him.
You mentioned that you felt like you would be the lady Amitabh Bachchan on your first day at work. With so many accolades coming your way do you feel that sense of achievement?
When you grow up, you realise there can only be one Amitabh. But, there is a sense of achievement because a lot of hard work has gone into being in the position I am today. I have had a phase where my films haven't worked, but I am grateful because I am living my dream of being an actor. It is heartbreaking when your films don't work, but the only way to keep going is to move forward. Earlier, I used to introspect a lot about what went wrong in a film but now I don't have any insecurities. I am secure about my relationship with my work.
But not many people can say that they have work after giving a string of flops. In your case you have always had work. Is it different because of your unapologetic behaviour or do you feel you have been lucky?
I don't believe in luck. I think fortune favours the brave. I am a hungry actor. I am a tigress on the prowl that is really greedy to get that next big role. I don't feel that as my last film didn't do well things will change for me. My commitment and passion towards my work remains the same. I don't have any pressure because my previous films haven't done well. In fact, I feel success brings in some amount of pressure. Every actor goes through successes and failures. Every film will not do the same kind of business, so I don't think it affects the credibility of an actor. I am 38 and married, but I don't see that as a limitation. These things could have been impediments earlier, but today I am fearless as I know there are only certain things in my control.
What is the next big role that you are hunting for? There were rumours about you doing a Meena Kumari biopic.
I am no longer doing it. The script has to do justice. It can't be a sensational account of her life - that's why I opted out. But, given a chance, I would love to play her character as I had a girl crush on her. I've always been fascinated by her as a person and as an actor.