The Chembur girl Vidya Balan has come a long way since her first known small screen appearance in HUM PAANCH as an over-weight girl with a beautiful spectacled face and a great smile. She did one more TV serial after that and soon decided not to do TV any more. None could persuade her otherwise. She wanted to do films. She would regularly attend local film festivals and this must have helped her appreciate cinema. She got a few offers from south, signed one film that was never made.
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She did not give up. She could have gone back to TV but she didn’t. She started doing commercials and music videos. She was noticed and appreciated. She waited for almost 4 years for her first film. And then came PARINEETA in 2005, debut feature of the Ad filmmaker Pradeep Sarkar. That made a big difference to her career. It was merely the beginning of her career yet she had the guts and intelligence to refuse the next Yash Raj Film not for any other reason than the fact that she didn’t like her role.
Post PARINEETA she was signed on for some really big projects opposite big stars. Those films didn’t do very well. And then we saw her taking up film projects that didn’t have big male stars but were rich in content and provided her the opportunity to demonstrate her acting prowess. She went for the roles that suited her temperament and stories that revolved around her character.
CHECK OUT: Vidya Balan in high powered Cannes jury
Then came PAA, another ad man and debutant Balki directed the film. Vidya played Big B’s mother. The industry people must have advised her against it. She went by her judgment. The film became a hit and thus started her rise to super stardom. Her career curve has been rising and rising since then. She has demolished all myths of Bollywood film industry. People would say, ”Female oriented films don’t work at box office.” She has given one box office hit after another, and has won every possible film award in a row for PAA (2009), ISHQIYA (2010), NO ONE KILLED JESSICA (2011), THE DIRTY PICTURE (2011), and KAHAANI (2010). All were female oriented roles and the films were super hits in terms of cost and collection ratios. The biggest of male stars, including the Khans, had not delivered six hits in a row. A female star had done it and created history.
That is Vidya Balan, now Vidya Balan Roy Kapoor, who is on Cannes jury rubbing shoulders with the Oscar and Palme d’Or winners and the brightest and the biggest names of world cinema like Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman, Christoph Waltz, Cristian Mungiu, Lynne Ramsay, Naomi Kawase, and Daniel Auteuil.
She is one of those strong willed and highly intelligent actresses who can give any male star a run for his money. Her understanding of cinema is best demonstrated in the films and roles she has done. None could have been worthier to represent India on Cannes jury than her in the 100th year of Indian cinema. She will certainly contribute to the process significantly.
She recently appeared on the cover of a film magazine as MOTHER INDIA. It is quite symbolic. Vidya Balan represents the old as well as new India. And the news is she will be walking the Cannes red carpet attired in a sari designed by her favorite dress designer and friend Sabyasachi Mukherjee. The 66th Cannes Film Festival is going to be so colorful and vibrant this year and truly memorable for the cinema aficionados from around the world.
(Rajesh Kumar Singh is Editorial Consultant for Festivals and Markets for BollywoodTrade.com. He is a filmmaker, critic and market analyst)