Vidya Balan (pronounced (born 1 January 1978) is an Indian actress. She has established a successful career in Hindi language films of Bollywood and is the recipient of one National Film Award, five Filmfare Awards, and five Screen Awards. She is known for portraying strong female protagonists and has been acknowledged in the media for breaking stereotypes of a Hindi film heroine.
Vidya aspired to a career in film from a young age, and had her first acting role in the 1995 sitcom Hum Paanch. She pursued a master's degree in sociology from the University of Mumbai and simultaneously made several unsuccessful attempts to start a career in film. She subsequently featured in various television commercials and music videos, and in 2003 made her feature film debut as the protagonist of the independent Bengali drama Bhalo Theko. In 2005 Vidya garnered praise for her first Hindi film, the musical drama Parineeta, and followed it with a leading role in the highly successful 2006 comedy film Lage Raho Munna Bhai. This initial success was followed by roles in the romantic comedies Heyy Babyy (2007) and Kismat Konnection (2008) which met with negative comments from the critics.
The year 2009, however, marked the beginning of the most successful period in Vidya's career as she portrayed five consecutive roles to wide critical acclaim in the 2009 drama Paa, the 2010 black comedy Ishqiya, the 2011 semi-biographical thriller No One Killed Jessica, the 2011 biopic The Dirty Picture, and the 2012 thriller Kahaani. These roles established her as a leading actress of Hindi cinema and earned her the tag of a "female hero". In addition to acting in films, Vidya promotes humanitarian causes and supports the empowerment of women. She initially drew criticism for her fluctuating weight and "questionable" dress sense, but was later credited in the media for "not morphing herself to fit into any conventional slot". She is married to the film producer Siddharth Roy Kapur.