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Aishwarya, not Vidya, was first choice for PARINEETA

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Today Bollywood actress Vidya Balan is touted as the ‘Hero’ of the industry after giving back-to-back successes. But if you thought her journey to stardom was a cakewalk then you will be surprised to know like any other struggler Vidya had to strive hard to bag her first film i.e. PARINEETA (2005).

The team of PARINEETA – director Pradeep Sarkar, producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra, actors Vidya balan and Raima Sen recently were present to revive the old memories of the film at the ongoing Vidhu Vinod Chopra Film festival (celebrating Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s 30 years in the film industry)

Pradeep Sarkar, who made his debut as director with PARINEETA, said, ”I knew Vidya as an Ad Film actress. I was trying to catch her since long for an AD. But she constantly refused as she had done one mother’s role and didn’t really want to repeat. I always saw her as quintessential Indian women. I had a strong urge to work with her.”


Vidya Balan recalls her struggle period and desperation to bag PARINEETA, ”I had gone through a very bad patch down south. I was doing Ad films and I also got my first film in south without really working towards it. Then I went through a phase of being called jinxed because that film stopped midway. All the films which had signed me on and all the producers who had signed me on also threw me out of their films as they thought I had set a precedent. At that time I met Dada (Pradeep Sarkar) with whom I did Euphoria’s song ‘Aana Meri Gali’. We shot through the night. The next morning when we were leaving he called me and said ‘A ladki tere saath mai film banaunga’. But I had heard so much of that by then…”

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”…And slowly but surely I had faith that he would make the film with me. He started writing the script. I was part of the entire process. Then he went to Vidhu Vinod Chopra. However when Dada came back to me and said that Mr. Chopra is keen to cast a bigger star I was heartbroken and I thought that was right. But dada gave me hope saying if I am able to show or prove my bit then it may work. So we started with various look tests – western, Indian look, chapta hair, curly hair, one day it was a song test and then another day an emotional scene. It just kept going on and on until I reached a stage where I said I don’t care if I get this film or not. I was so fed-up. The moment I gave up is the time when I got the film,” says Vidya.

Vidya adds further, ”I didn’t care they would have cast me opposite a tree in the film and I would have given my all. That was the fire I had in my belly and this was a big opportunity so I didn’t want to let go off. I knew I would lay my life for this and I did my best.”

Producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra said, ”When we thought of PARINEETA I immediately thought of a face like Aishwarya Rai. The moment Pradeep told me about her I said let me check what she can do and then we tested her for like grueling 50-60 times and finally I saw her turning to the camera and abusing me. I had never met her and I had refused to meet her till I saw her test.”

”Till you’re really desperate to get something you will never get. Your desperation will show. The fact that Vidya desperately wanted to do PARINEETA showed in those 60 tests. When she didn’t give her damn that is when she performed. Don’t care for success it will automatically follow. And that is how Vidya became Vidya Balan when she stopped caring. The rest is history. So I am very grateful that she sustained those 60 tests and didn’t give up…,” adds the filmmaker.

Vidya barged in, ”…No I am grateful because no one gives that much time to a newcomer. I was so desparate to get it that it was like someone had dangled a carrot on me now whether I get it or not was all that mattered.”

Now we know the real kahaani of her stardom!

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