I feel I was Bengali in my last life: Vidya Balan

By Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, Feb 1 (IANS) Pretty Vidya Balan is elated. The actress, who started her career with a Bengali film, is doing a second one now for director Gautam Haldar and feels the experience is like going back to her roots.

"I feel I was a Bengali in my last life. In fact, when Ritu-da (Rituparno Ghosh) offered me a Hindi film, I shocked him by requesting him to do a Bengali film with me," Vidya told IANS in an interview.

The movie she is most looking forward to doing in 2008 is Haldar's Bengali film.

"He is the same director with whom I did my career's very first film 'Bhalo Theko' in Bengali. I really wanted to do another Bengali film because that's where my acting career started. Even my first Hindi film 'Parineeta' was very Bengali in ambience.

"I play a character called Hashi and Tanuja-ji is also in it with me. I'm aware she has done loads of Bengali films in the past. And she's one of the actresses I truly admire. So, I'm really excited about the film," she said.

Working in Haldar's film is like a homecoming for her.

"Kolkata is home for me. I sincerely wanted to do it. This is my way of saying thank you to the Bengali film industry. It welcomed me at a time when I had no place in the Hindi film industry. I've always been fascinated by the land of (Satyajit) Ray. It was a dream to have done a role in a Bengali one as my very first film," Vidya said.

Even her character in "Bhool Bhulaiya" was eminently Bengali, she says.

"I worked so hard on the character. Awards nominations? I'd love to get the awards. I thought the kids would hate me after that frightening role. It did scare them. And I'm glad. I was meant to. Fortunately, they recall me by the breezy radio-jockey's character in 'Lage Raho Munna Bhai'," the actress said.

Though Vidya's "Rahgeer", a take on Vijay Anand's "Guide", opposite Akshay Kumar didn't work out, Vidya and Akshay have become a hit jodi.

"Insha Allah if all goes well, Akshay and I will sign another film together this year."

At the moment Vidya has only one assignment in Bollywood - Aziz Mirza's "Kismat Connection".

"And it's very different from everything I've done so far. That's how I like it. I don't want to get repetitive so early in my career."

She played Ajay Devgan's supportive wife in the recently released "Halla Bol" and feels proud of the work, no matter what its box office outcome.

"Whether it's the amnesiac wife in 'Salaam-e-Ishq', the schizophrenic wife in 'Bhool Bhulaiyaa' or the fiercely supportive wife of a philandering star in 'Halla Bol', I'm equally proud and possessive of all my films, no matter how they perform at the box office," she said.

Why isn't she in any of the big banners in Bollywood?

"I crave to work with all of them. And I'm sure it will happen at the right time. Sometimes you strive hard for something and it doesn't happen. Like, I wanted to do another Bengali film. While I was trying it didn't happen. When I stopped trying it happened," Vidya said.

The one wish she'd like granted this year?

"You mean apart from doing another Bengali film? I'd like to be loved all the time. And can I get one more wish? I wish all my films would do well. In my recent lot, 'Salaam-e-Ishq' and 'Halla Bol' didn't. But I really loved working in both. And I'm proud of them," she said.

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