Vidya Balan, Shakuntala Devi
Vidya Balan has time and again challenged Bollywood stereotypes with her roles, living out her characters with power-packed performances. The actress says it was not something that she did consciously.
Ever since she made her Bollywood debut with “Parineeta” in 2005, Vidya has wowed the Hindi audience with her work in films such as “Bhool Bhulaiyaa”, “No One Killed Jessica”, “The Dirty Picture”, “Paa”, “Kahaani”, “Ishqiya”, “Mission Mangal”, “Tumhari Sulu” and “Shakuntala Devi”. She will next be seen in “Newton” maker Amit Masurkar’s “Sherni”, which casts her as a forest officer.
“I did not set out to break stereotypes but I think through my experiences in life, especially as an actor, I have realised I am not going to let anything come in the way of me being an actor,” said Vidya, who has been feted with a National Award and a Padma Shri.
The 42-year-old actress added: “So if you tell me, I am too short to be an actor, too fat to be an actor, I am too bold to be an actor, I am too brazen or too intelligent or whatever, I am just saying random things, I cannot change who I am but I can still find my way.”
“My passion for what I do has seen me through because I really can’t change anything about myself, so I did not set out to break stereotypes. I just said if it doesn’t work, too bad it has to work, because I am going to make it work. It has to work because I want to be an actor,” she added.
The actress, who at the age of 16, starred in the sitcom “Hum Paanch” and essayed the role of the bespectacled Radhika in the sitcom, “did not challenge the stereotype with a conscious mind”.
“So, I think those stereotypes were challenged not consciously but probably unconsciously,” she said.
Currently, she awaits the release of “Sherni”, where she plays an upright forest officer battling social barriers set by the patriarchal society and lackadaisical attitudes within her department.
“Each of us is a Sherni, but it feels wonderful to be called one!” she smiled, and added: “They are all women who derive their identities from the work they do. They are very passionate about the work they do, because I feel I am that woman, too. So, therefore, I steer towards these characters. I like women with purpose and therefore I tend to choose them.”
Vidya added: “The more I look around me, more and more of us are finding that purpose, are living out our dreams. I think it is also a reflection of what’s happening in the world around us because cinema is a reflection of reality.”
“Sherni” is scheduled for a digital release on June 18 on Amazon Prime Video.