They say she has become difficult. What they mean is, she's turning down assignments for which other actresses would give their left arm and right profile. "But I really don't see my career in that way," says the softspoken constantly apologetic and yet unshakeable Parineeta girl. "I can't rush into projects and then find the time to do them. I've to be completely convinced about every detail about my character and my willingness and ability to portray it, before saying yes."
And she's willing to be dubbed difficult for her professionalism. Recently when she opted out of an avant-garde director turned producer's period film the man went around town calling her unprofessional. "But I never say yes and only to have second thoughts."
It appears as though Vidya is a victim of the Saif Syndrome. Filmmakers approach Vidya with roles that she's not convinced about, tell her to think over it, and then turn nasty when she says a final no.
"I can't take on work that I cannot do. Yes, I've had certain reservations about some aspects of a couple of scripts that I was offered recently. Frankly theyre roles to kill for. But I cannot bring myself to play characters I don't identify with. Maybe I'm too new or too scared. But I'd rather go cautiously than plunge impulsively into a film and then regret it later."
Also, at the moment Vidya is slightly more inclined to play contemporary roles. After Parineeta the risk of being branded an old-world actress is imminent. In her second film Lage Raho Munnabhai Vidya Balan played a radio jockey. "Not like what Preity Zinta played in Salaam Namaste. I don't think I could've carried off that look," Vidya laughs. "The girl was modern. She dressed trendily, but in the way I was comfortable and fashionable."
Now there's Nikhil Advani's Salaam-e-Ishq where she's paired with John Abraham. "Again a very contemporary character. John and I are so different in personality and yet so compatible together."
Another contemporary role is the one Vidya she plays in Sajid Khan's Hey Baby. "I'm really looking forward to that. You know Sajid and I've known each other for years. He has a terrific sense of humour. I keep asking him why I haven't become as tall as Mr Amitabh Bachchan after the way he keeps pulling my leg."
So is it goodbye to period films after Parineeta? "No such rules. I'm truly flattered if filmmakers come to me with films that search out a past. At the moment I'm looking at my present."
She's also looking forward to working with Rituparno Ghosh . "He's a director who's bound to bring out the best in me.for whatever I may be worth."
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