Vidya Balan - Makes Sulu Her Own

  • 11 Nov - 17 Nov, 2017
  • Omair Alavi
  • Interview

Actors in this part of the world usually don’t take up roles that require them to look unglamorous or unattractive. Vidya Balan, on the other hand, has had a history of portraying characters that don’t require an actress with just a beautiful face. In her upcoming film Tumhari Sulu, the 38-year-old actor plays a housewife-turned-successful Radio Jockey (RJ) who has to balance her life between her family and passion. MAG had a detailed chat with the Queen of Hearts before the release of her film where she talked about everything filmi. Excerpts:

Normally female actors say no to unglamorous and dull roles but you chose to take up a role that didn’t require you to doll up and look sexy to the audience?

Vidya Balan: When the director Suresh Triveni narrated the story of Tumhari Sulu to me, I was quite intrigued and wanted to be a part of the film. The character that I am playing is of a middle-class housewife, whose life changes after she becomes a successful Radio Jockey. Since I come from a middle-class family background, I somehow knew the mannerisms and my experience helped me a lot in developing the character. Usually, wives in middle-class households don’t apply make-up and that’s why I stayed with minimal make-up to appear real to the audience. I am sure they will love the character and its development when they watch the film.

Tell us something about your character and how it’s different from your personality?

VB: Well, Sulu (the character I play) is not like me in many ways – she is a pagal si housewife who is bebaak and chulbuli at the same time. She doesn’t care what others think and that’s one of the reasons why she is such a confident being. She knows that she can do anything and that’s one of the reasons why she takes the job of a RJ as a challenge and then makes it her own.

An actor is as good as the character they play; until and unless they don’t outdo their last role, they will be looked upon as actors, not performers

The trailer shows that you people had a lot of fun during the making of the film. Tell us something about it.

VB: Oh, yes! We had loads of fun during the making of the film. When the script is complete and the story is brilliant, then the cast and crew trust the director and that’s what happened with us in this movie. The film has everything from comedy to drama and since the story revolves around a middle-class family, we tried to stay as close to reality; [scenes involving] the pressure cooker and TV happen in reality and we have tried to remain close to that.

Why didn’t you ask the writer to change the character from a mother-of-one to a young girl, which normally happens as per Bollywood standards?

VB: It is not the first time that I have played a mother – I was Amitabh Bachchan’s mother in Paa and have no issues whether I am playing a girl or a woman. I am 38 years old and can’t say no to a script just because it doesn’t have me in the ‘young’ avatar. Tumhari Sulu is one of the best scripts I have come across in recent years and that’s one of the reasons why I chose to accept this film.

How did you feel when you were asked to perform on Sridevi’s iconic Hawa Hawai remix in the film?

VB: Just thinking about the song makes me nervous and that might give you the idea as to how nervous I was while performing. It is my all-time favourite song and I was scared because I knew I wouldn’t be able to (perform it) better than Sridevi ji. Her role in Mr. India was one of those roles that can teach you everything in less time – I would term that role to be an encyclopaedia of acting.

You had earlier played the role of a RJ in Lage Raho Munna Bhai – how does it feel to return to a recording studio after 11 years?

VB: It has been 11 years since I played it and the best part of that journey is that I have grown up and matured. Yes, being part of Lage Raho Munna Bhai was a wonderful experience but there, I was part of people’s mornings whereas here, I play a night RJ. I know quite a few RJs and know how they operate; I had given quite a few radio interviews so knew how to perform in front of the microphone. Both films, however, had one thing in common – there were innocent characters in that film as well as in this one, and that will prove to be the film’s strength.

Actors in this part of the world have a secret power – some are taller than the rest; a few can make you laugh without trying hard, and some are exceptionally good-looking. Your secret power seems to be your magical voice that can mesmerise men. What do you have to say about that?

VB: My voice! [laughs out loud]. I am so happy that you found my voice to be so good that you labelled it as a superpower. All I can say is that I am humbled and thankful for the appreciation.

I am 38 years old and can’t say no to a script just because it doesn’t have me in the ‘young’ avatar

Doesn’t the emergence of younger actors scare you – they have acted well in their limited opportunities and possess a huge fan-following?

VB: In my opinion, an actor is as good as the character they play; until and unless they don’t outdo their last role, they will be looked upon as actors, not performers. For me, this role was more of a challenge and that’s why I decided to take it up. The character had a family, life and responsibilities and how Sulu manages to distribute her time amongst them is what the film is all about.

Does this movie have any message or is it a mindless entertaining flick?

VB: The film’s concept is that if you are confident enough, you can do anything you want – main kar sakti hai. There is no particular message in Tumhari Sulu except the one that you take home after watching it.