Actor Vidya Balan says that when films do not do well, her heart breaks. But her role in Begum Jaan has been acclaimed as a show-stopper. Will her heart break once more or will she break the failure jinx? From early reports, she has excelled and is the mainstay of the film.
So, Begum Jaan is out and the role played by Vidya Balan as a hookah-snorting, razor-tongued woman with authoritarian air has won acclaim. She is the master of her fate. Vidya Balan adds her persona and charm to Begum Jaan and dominates the screen from the word go. But will her heart break again at the box office. Probably not
She gave glimpses of it in an interview. “I am not Vidya Balan, the star on screen, and that distinction is very clear in my head. Of course, there is a part of me because I am playing the role, but I am not playing myself,” she said.
In Begum Jaan, there is no Vidya Balan. She just vanishes; there is just Begum Jaan for you wrapped in self-made and hard-baked authoritarianism, looks and dialogues that can make mincemeat of the worst villain.
Despite all this, she is saddened and sometimes finds her heart broken when her films do not succeed despite pouring her melting soul into the characters.
Sometimes, it destroys me and sometimes, it doesn’t affect me at all, she added.
“I invest a lot in the films that I do. So, there is always a part of me that wants love, acceptance and approval and it gets measured in terms of box-office success”, the actor told the supplement section of The Times of India.
First came an avalanche of successful films. But that suddenly ended in a drought. Ghanchakkar didn’t work and she didn’t know how to do deal with it. When Shaadi Ke Side Effects didn’t work, Vidya Balan was angry. When Bobby Jasoos bombed, she felt like a victim. And then came Hamari Adhuri Kahani and that too did not work. That devastated her.
And her failures came after her unforgettable debut in Parineeta (2005). This was followed by her outstanding performances in Paa, Ishqiya, The Dirty Picture, Kahaani and Kahaani 2.
But she thought Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh would be a comeback film. When that too followed the failure path, she quickly disconnected herself from the numbers game.
This made her focus more on what she enjoyed doing the most — the process of moviemaking and even the promotions.
“Today, I am very glad that I went through that phase, though I am not sure I felt the same way when I was going through it. I feel maybe there was a lesson in store for me,” she said in the interview.
But she is happy that top people write scripts for her. “I love the fact that people write roles for me; I feel humbled. You keep hearing that a particular role was written keeping Amitabh Bachchan in mind and wonder how that works… and suddenly, it happens to you. But consciously, I never worked towards it or even desired it,” she said.
On her role in Begum Jaan, she said in the ToI supplement interview:
“I saw the Bengali film (Rajkahini) and it struck me as extremely powerful and moving. But then, I consciously blanked out my memory of the film. Today, if you ask me how a particular scene was done in the Bengali film, the answer is, I don’t know. That’s the only way I could have brought in my interpretation of the character.
“For me to understand that it is about power, I had to have conversations with Srijit. It’s a well-writ ten script, so all I had to do was read it and enact the scenes. But the fun is when you flesh it out a bit -get into details people don’t necessarily watch on screen, but nevertheless lend life to those moments. Begum Jaan rules the space she lives in, so her body language is very chauda. When we asked ourselves why she would not set up her kotha somewhere else, we realised that each one of us is trying to establish our roots somewhere or the other. And just because Begum Jaan belongs to the fringe element of the society, it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t feel the need to do that. She doesn’t care if you decide to partition the country. She says that’s irrelevant to her whether you are calling it India or Pakistan; it is her house and she will deal with it the way she wants to. She doesn’t seek approval. These might have been mere words when Srijit and I were discussing the story, but thanks to those conversations, I could bring her alive”.
Vidya Balan says on screen about what the character would like to wear. Her economic or social background also needs to be taken into account. “So, those things dictate how I look in a film. If I am looking true to the part, it satisfies and excites me”.
On the New Year (it’s Vishu – the Malayalam New Year), Vidya Balan hopes Begum Jaan will bring her happy tidings.