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Verve People
November 13, 2017

Up Close With Vidya Balan And Her Alter Ego From Tumhari Sulu

Text by Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena

The actress insists that she shares her character’s sense of humour, positive attitude and unebbing energy

On playing an RJ again in Tumhari Sulu – after assaying Jhanvi in Lage Raho Munnabhai…  “Sulochana (Sulu) and Jhanvi are both RJs and both of them won’t let you sleep. One says, ‘Aapke raato ko jagane, aapke sapno ko sajane, main Sulu’  to keep you up while the other said, ‘Good morning, Mumbai!’ to rouse you out of slumber. But Sulu is completely different from Jhanvi. For one, Jhanvi did an early morning show – she was a morning jockey – while Sulu does a late-night show. Jhanvi was sweeter and charming. Sulu is crazy – an enthu cutlet with a zest for life, always raring to go. She wants to try out everything in life; she participates in everything, every contest on radio and even the lemon and spoon race in her kid’s school. She sings on the mike during a society function. Very tongue-in-cheek, she talks before she thinks. She laughs easily and loudly.”

On being sexy in saris… “Both Sulu and I (in real life) wear saris. We feel confident and sexy in them. In fact, wearing saris comes naturally to me. I’ve fancied the drape since I was five. I have a picture of myself in one of my mother’s saris. Growing up, my idea of beauty was strongly tied to the six yards of various kinds because I saw my mother – and the women around me – wear only them. For regular days it would be cottons, and for occasions, silks – Kanjivarams or Mysore silks.”

On her characters’ strong personality… “Sulu’s’s strength as a woman is that she’s irrepressible. She has a great sense of humour, a positive attitude and unebbing energy. Her mantra is ‘Main kar sakti hoon!’ and that is her greatest strength. My strongest trait as an individual is the faith I have in myself, my family and the universe.”

On being mischievous… “Personally, I don’t particularly need inspiration to be naughty.  I like to enjoy every moment and that is what inspires the naughtiness. I am always either making a joke of myself or pulling someone’s leg. It’s just so much fun – making light of everything in life.”

On a character close to her…”It is difficult to choose because every character I’ve done has struck a chord in me – irrespective of whether the film has worked or not. I would say, my character in Tumhari Sulu, at this moment, because it’s the freshest in my experience. Then, there was of course Silk from The Dirty Picture, Krishna from Ishqiya, Vidya from Pa and Vidya Bagchi from Kahaani.”

On being comfortable in her own skin…“Self-acceptance didn’t come easily to me at all. I’ve had to work at it relentlessly — I continue to do that. But over time I realised that the world will not accept you unless you accept yourself first. The world only reflects the way you feel about yourself. So, yes, it’s been a long and sometimes arduous journey but there’s a great joy in accepting yourself even if it’s one step at a time. I believe that’s our primary purpose in life. We come into this world to learn to love ourselves.”

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Her favourite song… “Right now, it has got to be Manva Likes To Fly from Tumhari Sulu.”

On her iPod…  “At the moment I’m not really using my iPod. I use Saregama Carvaan which has over 5000 songs from the ’50s to now and I’m mostly listening to Gulzar saab, RD Burman and Kishore Kumar because they’re my favourites.”

Her all-time favourite films: The old Golmaal, Sholay, Sagar, Arth, and Masoom. Mr. India is my all-time favourite!

In her fridge…  “Lots of vegetables, cheese and chocolates. And lots of ice because like my water chilled!”

In her bag…”My wallet, my house keys, a couple of lipsticks, kajal, a comb, some cards, my iPod and phone charger.”

In her wallet… “Money, some cards and a couple of special pictures.”

On her blacklist… “Negativity. Anyone who’s trying to pull me down, anyone who’s being a party pooper.”

In her glove compartment… “Car papers, that’s it.”

In her wardrobe…  “Saris of all kinds, maxis, salwar kameezes, jeans and kurtas.”

Feels uncomfortable in… “Anything that is really tight – I find such clothing extremely suffocating, unbearable and uncomfortable. I’ll never be seen dead in anything like that. My comfort clothing has to be a cotton salwar kameez.”

In her bathroom… “Shampoos, soaps, creams, scrubs and bath oils.”

On her bucket list: “To learn to swim because I want to travel to many places. I want to go to Sicily. I haven’t managed to go yet but I’m hoping I’ll be able to rectify that someday soon.”

In her beauty bag: “Lip balm, a few lip shades, gloss, kajal, a few scrunchies for my hair, a little jasmine fragrance in a dabbi — I apply it near my ear when I want to smell nice. I love the smell of mogra!”

One thing that no one knows about her: “I hate combing my hair.”

A person she would love to be for a day:  “I’d love to be Spiderman for a day. Just to entertain my niece and nephew, Ira and Rohan.”

A compliment that she recalls: “People tell me that I laugh heartily – that always makes me happy because I laugh quite a lot! But I can’t think of any particular compliment. Someone said I’m a woman for ‘every reason, season and for a lifetime’. I think that’s that one.”

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