I'm not aping Rekha: Vidya

MUMBAI: Two back-to-back critical and commercial successes and Vidya Balan is literally spoilt with appreciation. And it showed in the glow on her face during her recent visit to the city.

While some have marvelled at her effortless reinvention, others have insisted that she has carved a non-interchangeable space for herself after busting the myth of power and beauty being strange bed-partners in recent Hindi cinema. And for yet some more, Vidya is slowly inching towards a zone that was earlier reserved for an actor like Rekha!

Ask Vidya about the changing images of Indian heroines and the actor says, “There was a time when Hindi films had heroines including Madhubala, Nargis, Hema Malini, Jaya Bachchan and Rekha, who epitomized beauty and strength. Our cinema then had men and women. In the mid 80s, youth became the selling point even as we began to ape the American culture mindlessly. So, it was all about cinema with boys and girls. And even if boys graduated into men, girls remained static. The mindless obsession with youth made us lose sight of heroines abroad, who were more than mere glam dolls.”

But today, film-makers claim that Vidya’s choices of breaking away from the clutter have given wings to their imagination. So, is Vidya trying to be the Rekha of new-age Indian cinema? “I am not trying to ape Rekha,” she says at the mention of how, at a recent award ceremony, she had dressed like the diva. “Each one of us is unique. I admire Rekha a lot. She epitomizes the quintessential Indian woman who is vulnerable, desirable, strong, sensuous and so much more. Beyond the obvious South Indian connection of the Kanjeevaram and open hair, to be likened to someone like her, who epitomizes the quintessential Indian woman, is humbling.”

What, however, is not humbling for her is the trend of behavioural restrictions on acceptance speeches, especially the ‘no tears, please’ regulation for Oscar nominees. “It’s nice to fumble and also be speechless on stage. Why dehumanize creative people who are extremely emotional? Why take their spontaneity away and make everything look so studied on stage? Even if I don’t feel like crying, I would still do so if I was asked not to,” she insists. And while on emotions, has Vidya found someone special? “I’m single and happy, but ready to be in a relationship. I’m a self-assured person and I’d want someone who is that way. Irrespective of which profession he comes from, I want him to respect others. That’ll happen if he respects himself,” she adds. And what about her personal take on multiple partners considering that her character in Ishqiya has romanced two men? “Men are great at compartmentalizing relationships. A woman can simultaneously have feelings for two men, but she can’t be sexually intimate with both. Polygamy exists, but I don’t think polyandry does.”

Meanwhile, offers to explore different mature shades of relationships have come her way. And some of them are in Bengali too. “Film-maker Sujoy Ghosh had offered me a Bengali film, Premer Golpo that would have both Hindi and Bengali film actors. But I don’t know what’s happening to it. I’m keen on doing another classic with Dada (Pradeep Sarkar).” And, of course, there’s Rituparno Ghosh in the list too.

Meanwhile, she is readying to go to Delhi on Thursday to shoot for Rajkumar Gupta’s film. Though tight-lipped about the film, Vidya is all praise for co-star Rani Mukerji. “She is a fabulous actor and one of my favourites among my immediate seniors. This film is based on an incident that we are all aware of. But, we are not filming it like a docu-feature. My sister lives in Gurgaon and I am looking forward to my stay in Delhi. The city has a certain sense of romanticism to it. I had shot there for a day for Paa. This time, I’ll be shooting for two months.”

And finally, what’s more challenging for her? Doing a period film or one that’s based on current affairs? “For me, the only defining thing for an actor is to be true to every moment. If I can breathe truth into the most simple moment, my job is done.” Amen!