New Delhi : Known for pioneering a change in the portrayal of women with her roles in female-led films, Bollywood superstar Vidya Balan turned 43 on Saturday.
Born in Mumbai to a Tamil Brahmin family, Vidya’s acting journey started from a young age and had her Bollywood debut in 2005 with the critically-acclaimed romantic film ‘Parineeta’ co-starring Saif Ali Khan and Sanjay Dutt in the lead roles.
For the uninformed, the recipient of several awards, including a National Film Award and six Filmfare Awards, Vidya had her first acting role in the 1995 hit sitcom ‘Hum Paanch’, which also starred veteran actor Shoma Anand.
Well, after her famous show ‘Hum Paanch’, the actor had several unsuccessful attempts before making her way to the silver screen. She made her film debut by starring in the 2003 Bengali film ‘Bhalo Theko’ and received praise for her first Hindi film, ‘Parineeta’.
This was followed by commercial successes in the 2006 comedy ‘Lage Raho Munna Bhai’ and the 2007 psychological horror-comedy ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa’.
With each of her films creating a new record like the 2011 biopic ‘The Dirty Picture’, Vidya thrived to be among the highest-paid actors in showbiz.
Leaving a strong imprint on her fans with her exemplary persona and impeccable journey in the cinema industry, Vidya was awarded the Padma Shri in 2014.
On the occasion of her birthday, let’s take a look back at some of the iconic movies that made her an irrepressible star:
1. ‘Parineeta’: This 2005 released romantic drama marked the debut of Vidya Balan in Hindi films. The movie is the adaptation of the 1914 Bengali novella of the same name by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. Directed by debutant Pradeep Sarkar, it was based upon a screenplay by the film’s producer, Vidhu Vinod Chopra. The film featured Vidya, Saif Ali Khan and Sanjay Dutt in lead roles.
‘Parineeta’ primarily revolves around the lead characters, Lalita (Vidya) and Shekhar (Saif). Since childhood, Shekhar and Lalita have been friends and slowly this friendship blossoms into love. A series of misunderstandings surface and they are separated due to the conniving schemes of Shekhar’s father.
The plot deepens with the arrival of Girish (Sanjay), who supports Lalita’s family. Eventually, Shekhar’s love defies his father’s greed and he seeks out Lalita.
The film received critical acclaim and won four Filmfare Awards including one for Best Debut Actor to Vidya. Sarkar went on to win the National Award for Best Debut Film at the 53rd National Film Awards. ‘Parineeta’ was showcased at several international film festivals.
2. ‘The Dirty Picture’: The 2011 biographical musical drama film inspired by the life of Silk Smitha, the female Indian actor widely known for her erotic roles, was directed by Milan Luthria and co-produced by Shobha Kapoor and Ekta Kapoor after Ekta came up with the idea and asked screenwriter Rajat Aroraa to pen a story based on it.
Vidya, Emraan Hashmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Tusshar Kapoor played the lead roles. Vidya received the highest accolades for her performance; she was called ‘the hero of the film’.
In addition, the film has received widespread praise for portraying women as powerful, contributing something unique to a typically male-dominated society. ‘The Dirty Picture’ received several awards, most of which were won by Vidya for her portrayal of Silk.
It won three National Film Awards including Best Actress, three Filmfare Awards and six Screen Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. The movie’s song ‘Ooh La La’ became quite popular.
3. ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa’: The 2007 horror comedy blockbuster ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa’ gave Vidya one of her iconic character roles — Manjulika. Directed by Priyadarshan, the film was a remake of the 1993 Malayalam movie ‘Manichitrathazhu’.
It stars Vidya, Akshay Kumar, Ameesha Patel, Shiney Ahuja, Paresh Rawal, Manoj Joshi, Asrani, Rajpal Yadav and Vikram Gokhale in the lead roles. The film received universal critical acclaim and was also a huge commercial success. Subsequently, the film also attained cult status in Hindi cinema.
4. ‘Shakuntala Devi’: The highly-appreciated 2020 biographical drama film traces the life of mathematician Shakuntala Devi, who was also known as the ‘human computer’.
The film stars Vidya in a titular role, along with Sanya Malhotra, Amit Sadh and Jisshu Sengupta in supporting roles, while child artiste Spandan Chaturvedi in her film debut gave a cameo appearance as young Shakuntala.
5. ‘Kahaani’: The 2012 thriller film co-written, co-produced and directed by Sujoy Ghosh stars Vidya Balan as Vidya Bagchi, a pregnant woman searching for her missing husband in Kolkata during the festival of Durga Puja, assisted by Satyoki Rana Sinha (Parambrata Chatterjee) and Khan (Nawazuddin Siddiqui).
‘Kahaani’ explores themes of feminism and motherhood in male-dominated Indian society. The film also makes several allusions to Satyajit Ray’s films such as ‘Charulata’ (1964), ‘Aranyer Din Ratri’ (1970) and ‘Joi Baba Felunath’ (1979).
The film was critically claimed and won several awards, including three National Film Awards and five Filmfare Awards. Ghosh won accolades for Best Director and Vidya won for Best Female Actor. The film also has a successor, titled ‘Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh’. The movie was remade in Telugu as ‘Anaamika’ with Nayanthara taking on Vidya’s role.
At the 60th National Film Awards, Ghosh won Best Screenplay (Original), Namrata Rao won Best Editing, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui won a Special Jury award.
Vidya went on to establish herself by starring in many commercial successes, which also earned her critical and awards recognition. These were the 2009 drama ‘Paa’, the 2010 black comedy ‘Ishqiya’, and also the thriller drama ‘No One Killed Jessica’.
She was also a major part of the highest-grossing films including ‘Tumhari Sulu’ and ‘Mission Mangal’.
Apart from her acting skills, she is also famous for her sartorial choices that are a perfect blend of elegance and simplicity. Mostly seen adorning beautiful ethnic outfits, the voluptuous beauty of Bollywood, initially drew criticism for her fluctuating weight and dressing sense but was later credited in the media for her unconventionality.
On the personal front, Vidya is married to film producer Siddharth Roy Kapur.
Meanwhile, on the work front, the birthday girl will next be seen in highly-anticipated movies like ‘Jalsa’ and Shirsha Guha Thakurta’s untitled romantic comedy-drama.