Channelling your inner goddess is about using your voice and spelling out your choices: Vidya Balan


While actresses across film industries, age groups and nationalities have played strong characters on screen, Vidya Balan set a standard that few could match. She chose to play mothers who were unlike the sacrificial kind that Hindi cinema was accustomed to. She played love interests, but not the damsels in distress. She essayed women who were not afraid to make choices, who didn’t always tick the socially acceptable boxes. On the occasion of Navratri and Durga Puja, Vidya speaks exclusively to BT about not just the powerful characters that she has portrayed on screen, but also how every woman should channelise the inner goddess within her. Excerpts:
When we talk about channelling one’s inner goddess or harnessing the power within, how do you interpret and explain the concept?
It’s about so many things… It’s about drawing healthy boundaries, learning to say no, valuing yourself more, using your voice and being authentic and unapologetic, or at least, working towards it. It’s also about valuing and spelling out your choices and what you want in life. The thing is, we have been trained to put ourselves after everyone else around us. Channelling your inner goddess means learning to prioritise ourselves without feeling selfish. We have been taught that everyone else should be our priority, but it is for us to realise that our needs, desires and wants can be placed alongside what we do for others. Channelling your inner goddess means acknowledging that you have the right to a life of your choice and dreams, focussing on your own health and taking that break when you are bogged down, asking for help and support instead of trying to be a superwoman.
In recent times, the audience that consumes Hindi cinema is more than willing to embrace strong female characters on screen who live by their own ideals, morals, and rules. What inspires you to pick such characters?
I guess I try to practice what I just said, and so, I get drawn to these stories naturally. I have often spoken about how I came to accept myself the way I am and what it took me to do that. You have to be in allowance of your dreams that are beyond you or doing something that no one in your family has done before. You have to know and accept that there will be days when you will be more acceptable to people and some days when you won’t be, and that it’s okay. There will be days when I am angry, or badly behaved or something like that; there will be days when I am intolerant, and days when I am kind, compassionate and giving. All of that is a part of me and should be first accepted by me. About a decade ago, my mother had put me in touch with a healer. I was going through some health issues at that time. From then till now, I speak to my healer from wherever I am in the world and express what I am feeling. That’s the most transparent space for me as an individual whose life and work is in public glare. It has helped me understand what I am feeling, spell it out and follow what I want to do in most situations. It’s not about what anyone else wants, but what you want. It’s about choosing that. Doing that has helped me be authentic, live the life I want. Also, that is a gift from my parents to my sister and me - they have allowed us the space to be who we want to be. The fact that I am a woman of a certain size or maybe someone who does not necessarily possess certain skills that are thought of as prerequisites didn’t stop me from wanting to do things my way. I feel most women feel this very restlessness, this unwillingness to settle, and it’s this what is happening in the world around us that has found its way into films because it always does.
Is that why the women, especially the mothers that you have played on screen, have seldom followed a rule book or settled for the shorter end of
the stick?
In 2015, during a panel discussion, I remember talking about the change we need to see in cinema, and one of the things I spoke strongly against was the glorification of the sacrificial mother. I have always disliked the idea. Maybe the universe heard me that day. The films that came my way in the subsequent years, including the ones where I play a mother, like in Shakuntala Devi and Mission Mangal, had me essaying characters who wanted things for themselves; they had flaws, and they were thinking-feeling women. Mind you, that did not make them lesser mothers. We see women like that around us all the time. They have been punished and judged for having feelings, desires, which didn’t revolve around others and for not putting themselves behind everyone else. But it’s these women who have inspired other women to make choices irrespective of the repercussions. I remember everyone that I spoke to told me how Shakuntala Devi wanted the most out of life. The point where she says, ‘Agar main amazing ho sakti hoon, to main normal kyun banoon?’ sums it up.

Share This Story

Comment On This Story


Photo Gallery

BSE Sensex
NSE Nifty