The petite actress took the country by storm with her bold portrayal of Silk Smitha in ‘The Dirty Picture’. Known as the thinking man’s actress, Vidya started her acting career on small screen and went on to become a known face, thanks to scores of advertisements that came her way. She came into the film industry a little late as compared to other actresses. After completing her masters from Bombay University, Vidya made her foray into films.
While studying Sociology in Mumbai’s St. Xavier’s College, Vidya worked in the popular TV show, ‘Hum Paanch’. Vidya played the role of Radhika, a geek who had hearing and eyesight problem. Although Vidya’s appearance in the show was not for a long time, her portrayal of the character is still remembered.
Advertisements and Music Videos
Throughout her college years, Vidya appeared in various television commercials and even featured in some prominent music videos for Euphoria and Shubha Mudgal. Euphoria’s ‘Kabhi Aana Tu Meri Gali’ made Vidya a well known face.
Vidya made her debut in films in a bangle film called ‘Bhalo Theko’. The film got Vidya critical acclaim and also got her the role of Lalita in Pradeep Sarkar’s ‘Parineeta’. This was Vidya’s big ticket to Bollywood as she was pitted against established actors like Sanjay Dutt and Saif Ali Khan in her first film itself. Vidya, of course, came out with flying colours and was awarded the Best Female Debut at the Filmfare awards in 2006.
Lagey Raho Munnabhai
Vidya followed up her success of ‘Parineeta’ with ‘Lagey Raho Munnabhai’. Already a hit franchise, Vidya came on board in the second film of the Munnabhai series. The film presented her as a vibrant girl next door who worked as a Radio Jockey in Mumbai.
Even though the role was small, Vidya’s portrayal of Meenu, a girl who suffers from multiple sclerosis in the film ‘Guru’ was lauded by the critics. Directed by Mani Ratnam, the film had Abhishek and Aishwarya in the lead but small roles played by Mithun Chakraborty, Vidya Balan and R. Madhavan left a deep impact in the audience’s mind.
‘Heyy Baby’ was a genre that Vidya had never tried before-Comedy. Directed by Sajid Khan, the film also starred Akshay Kumar, Fardeen Khan and Riteish Deshmukh. Although the film did quite well, Vidya’s modern and sexy avatar was not taken too well by the audience. She got flak for her over the top appearance from several quarters.
‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa’ was a remake of a southern superhit film called ‘Manichitrathazhu.’ Vidya played the role of Avni, who suffered from Dissociative Identity Disorder. A challenging role for any actor, Vidya played a girl who suffers from a split personality of sorts. The scene where it is discovered that Vidya is possessed by a spirit still runs shivers down everyone’s spine. The film gave Vidya the chance to showcase her dancing skills.
Vidya got an image makeover of sorts in this film. Sabyasachi designed bohemian and ethnic look in the film and Vidya looked absolutely stunning in every shot. As a single mother of Auro (played by Big B) who suffers from progeria, Vidya portrayed the role with panache. The love and the bonding between Auro and his mother was heartwarming. The role also fetched her Best Actress trophy at the Filmfare awards in 2010.
From a very urban character in ‘Paa’ to a completely rustic character in ‘Ishqiya’, Vidya has played some varied roles in career. Produced by Vishal Bhardwaj and directed by Abhishek Chaubey, the film was about two small time thieves who take refuge at a widow’s place and eventually both fall in love with the widow. The window, played by Balan is a mysterious woman who uses the two men for her own secret agenda. The gray character of Vidya was lauded and her bold scenes with Arshad Warsi were frowned upon.
No One Killed Jessica
She played the introvert who was forced to go out and seek justice for her murdered sister. Based on a true incident, the film had some powerful performances from Rani Mukerji and Vidya Balan. Though the film did not boast a prominent male lead, the film did extremely well at the Box Office.
The Dirty Picture
The country was taken by surprise by Vidya’s bold avatar in ‘The Dirty Picture’. People were shocked to see the same actress in absolutely contrasting roles in the same year. Based on 80s starlet Silk Smitha’s life, the film was revelation of sorts as far as Vidya was concerned. She gave the most uninhabited performance till date and the film went on to become the top grosser of 2010.