The film Parineeta, set in Kolkata in 1962, was about a woman named Lalita who falls in love with a man named Shekhar. Shekhar and Lalita have been friends since childhood, and their relationship gradually evolves into love. Owing to Shekhar’s father’s devious plans, a series of misunderstandings arise, and they are separated. Vidya Balan, one of the best actors of the present time, made her film debut with this film. In the most prominent parts, she shared the screen alongside Saif Ali Khan and Sanjay Dutt. It was directed by debutant Pradeep Sarkar and was based on a script by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, the film’s producer.
The film was released in 2005 and turns 17 this year, marking Vidya Balan’s 17th year in Bollywood with strong imprints and powerful performances. She is now one of Bollywood’s most bankable and sought-after performers, and she has achieved this status owing to her unrivalled acting skills and selection of films. However, her journey to popularity has been full of ups and downs, making her a role model for both struggling and renowned artists.
Parineeta Turns 17
Returning to Parineeta, her journey to Parineeta was not smooth and included many unknown facts that many people are unaware of, such as being rejected, having films shut down in the middle of production, and auditioning 75 times for her debut film. Finally, Parineeta was released, and it was based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel. her performance was praised by critics after the film’s great success and widespread acclaim. She won Best Female Debut and was nominated for Best Actor at the annual Filmfare Awards ceremony.
Balan’s debut in Bollywood was followed by a box office hit in 2006’s comedy Lage Raho Munna Bhai. She consented to the movie as part of a conscious effort to work in other genres to avoid being typecast in her Parineeta image. She played the title character’s love interest, for which she acknowledged she did not have a significant role in the film.
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Vidya started 2007 by taking a supporting role in Mani Ratnam’s drama Guru, starring Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, claiming her wish to work with Ratnam. Her following two appearances, in the ensemble films Salaam-e-Ishq, Eklavya: The Royal Guard, and Heyy Babyy, were similarly minor and not well received, but she justified them as “part of my learning curve“.
In 2007, she starred in Bhul Bhauliyaa, a film in which she portrayed an unconventional role, challenging the stereotypical image of a glamorous female actor. She played a simple married woman, as well as Manjulika, with equal ease. She balanced her creepy rendition of Manjulika with smeared kajal and blood on her face, which sent shivers down viewers’ spines.
The ease with which she underwent this transformation on screen was enough to demonstrate her acting abilities. It’s difficult to conjure horror with a conventionally attractive face, yet she persuades us with her angry gaze that she is both a patient and a loving wife, and that the two are utterly distinct. Balan stunned the nation once more, demonstrating her vitality and acting ability.
Balan then took the country by storm, starring in films that defied stereotypes about women, such as Paa, in which she played a single mother dealing with her son’s (Amitabh Bachchan) progeria, and Ishqiya, a Hindi gangster film, in which she played a widow. Seeing a woman who doesn’t wait for saviours was surprising, especially as a well-woven and interesting character. She then went on to star in the female-led film No One Killed Jessica. And while each of these characters was distinct from the others, they were all strong female personas.
2011 was the year that changed everything for her. The biopic The Dirty Picture was released in 2011. In this landmark film, directed by Milan Luthria, Vidya’s performance as the raucous southern diva Silk Smitha received a standing ovation from the crowd, who admired her bravery in portraying her without fear of the consequences if the film backfired.
What was truly remarkable about Vidya’s performance was that, despite portraying an unapologetically bold and free-spirited woman who was mocked for her flamboyance, she managed to retain Smitha’s grace and persuade the audience to sympathise with her and even dislike her detractors, which would be impossible in real life. As a result, she rose to become one of Bollywood’s highest-paid actors as a result. She earned another Filmfare and Screen Award, as well as the National Film Award for Best Actor.
Since then, she has played some of the most classic characters, including Vidya Bagchi in the 2012 thriller Kahaani, in which she played a pregnant woman searching for her missing husband in Kolkata during the Durga Puja festival. There is also a sequel to the film, titled Kahaani 2. Tumhari Sulu and Mission Mangal were two of the highest-grossing films she appeared in. Vidya as Sulu in Tumari Sulu makes us fall in love with her eccentricity. However, in one of her most recent films, Jalsa, Vidya once again dazzles us with a bold and strong performance that has us head over heels in love with her.
Balan is, without a doubt, one of India’s most compelling actors; she knows her craft, and her confidence as a performer adds to everything she delivers to the screen. It’s no surprise, then, that as she evolved from Parineeta to Jalsa, she dared to take on unusual roles throughout her career.
Views expressed are the author’s own