New Delhi: The Indian film industry, among many other sectors of employment may be considered essentially male dominated, but 2012 marked a change in balancing the skewed notion. The actress who led the change and has been subtly doing it for the past few years is Vidya Balan who turned 35 on January 1, 2013.
She has carried films on her more than able shoulders and established that actresses are more than just a glamour quotient with the success of their ventures. Her Kahaani, became a symbol of women's power and emancipation, and she did not hesitate to speak her mind when talking about women's issues.
She even shattered the myth that demand for leading actresses tended to diminish
as they aged. She is one of the most sought after stars in Bollywood now.
There was a time when Vidya Balan was working as Radhika Mathur in TV soap 'Hum Paanch' and was patiently waiting for her big break. Such time could test the patience of anybody but she was determined to make her presence felt. Vidya was getting dropped from film after film, irrespective of the language, until she bagged the Bengali film 'Bhalo Theko'.
She had become a well known face via countless TV commercials till then but this was the first time when any of her films actually released on the big screen. Director Goutam Halder gave Vidya the opportunity of playing a challenging role and from there onwards she was determined to make a distinct place for herself.
Pradeep Sarkar's 'Parineeta' formally began her journey and in just seven years she carved a place for herself among the top actresses. A close look at the choice of her films will reveal that Vidya doesn't shy away from taking risks, even if they are uncalculated.
Apart from some of her initial films Vidya always went for strong and well written roles. From 'Bhool Bhulaiyaa' and 'Heyy Babyy', she took interest in portraying characters that had something to prove on the screen. 'Paa' and 'Ishqiya' presented her as someone who can take up the task of playing unconventional roles. How many heroines are there in Bollywood who would have played a character like Krishna (Ishqiya)?
'The Dirty Picture' and 'Kahaani' have established Vidya Balan as one of the prominent actors of the Hindi film industry who have developed themselves as a brand. Though Aamir Khan entered the industry much before her but Vidya has created a niche fan base like him, may be not as sizeable as Aamir but equally dedicated.
Not many would disagree that Bollywood is still a male dominated industry where good heroines need to feature with big heroes to excel but Vidya has defied this logic. Her sensuous and bold feminism has its own takers.
Like Sonakshi Sinha, Vidya has been countering the weight related questions since long. Her fashion sense has been questioned at times but none of these things took a toll on her. Her critics felt that the dresses she wore in 'Kismat Konnection' didn't suit her but she never talked about anything other than her performance in media.
In an era when stars are maintaining a 24x7 PR machinery to keep reminding the audiences about their existence, Vidya prefers to keep her personal things away from the public view. Her marriage with UTV CEO Siddharth Roy Kapur is an apt example of this. The couple kept everything simple and handled everything with grace.
In last ten years, Bollywood weddings have started to generate a lot of interest among the common people as they want to know every little detail about their favourite celebrity. This has increased the pressure on stars too who find it difficult to cope up with the level of the enthusiasm of the fans. Sometimes this leads to unwanted situation where everyone including the people chasing the celebrities feels unsatisfied.
Vidya Balan demonstrated how such a high profile wedding can take place with minimum fuss. The couple wasn't secretive about the scheduled programmes but things happened smoothly. They posed for the cameras at the right time and finished necessary rituals without going overboard with glamour and extravagant showmanship.
Very few actors live the same kind of life on and off screen but a simple marriage has hinted that Vidya is one of those film personalities who actually believe in cultivating a genuine image with her films and with her conducts in private life.