Article Hindi

Vidya Balan lists her favourite characters from Hindi films at MAMI Movie Mela

The actress spoke about some of her favourite characters from Arth, Sholay, Anand and the late Kundan Shah's Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa. 

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Shriram Iyengar

The last day of the Jio MAMI Movie Mela saw the arrival of a bevy of stars. The Golmaal Again team of Ajay Devgn, Rohit Shetty, Arshad Warsi, were followed by Vishal and Shekhar, delivering some classic hits. Vidya Balan stepped in next to spread some charm. 

The actress was at the event to discuss four of her favourite characters from Hindi cinema. Of these, Balan chose characters from Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Anand (1971), Ramesh Sippy's Sholay (1975), Mahesh Bhatt's Arth (1982) and Shekhar Kapur's Mr. India (1987). 

The characters, Balan said, "Were all from my all-time favourite films." Speaking about Rajesh Khanna's performance as the eponymous Anand, Balan said, "I think it is Rajesh Khanna's best performance."

While parising the editing of the climactic scene of Anand, the actress explained that the "right amount of pause has to get a magical balance which makes it memorable."

Balan also noted that the film does not tire the audience at the end of it. Anupama Chopra also reminded the audience that Anand was director Rajkumar Hirani's favourite film too, to which Balan added that both of them (Hirani and Mukherjee) were editors.

The second choice for her favourite character was Amitabh Bachchan's performance as Jai in Ramesh Sippy's classic Sholay. The actress praised the character for his wry wit and humour. She said, "There wasn't a character that was so bland, and we haven't seen such a wry sense of humour from a leading man." 

Talking about the subtle nature of the character's humour, Balan confessed that the role would be a tough one for any actor. Praising Bachchan, with whom she shared screen-space in Paa, Balan said, "I never told him (about his performance being my favourite)," before she adding, "I am in awe of him." 

While the first two characters were inspiring, Balan said it was Shabana Azmi's performance in Arth that had "the strongest impact on me as an actor." She further praised Azmi's performance saying, "It is such a beautiful performance...It is silence." The actress also praised the film's unconventional ending, noting that it resonates with people even today.

The next character was Sridevi's comic stint as Charlie Chaplin in Shekhar Kapoor's Mr. India. Praising Sridevi, the actress said, "No man, except Charlie Chaplin has done it as well as Sridevi." Balan gave her reseaons for adding this character to her favourites list. Doing such "physical comedy" for a female actor is difficult, she said.

The last choice was a memorable one, and timely too, as it comes from the recently deceased Kundan Shah's Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994). The actress was all in awe of Shah Rukh Khan's character in the film. The role was special for her because she "fell in love with Shah Rukh Khan all over again." The actress also praised Khan's expressive eyes which had, as Anupama Chopra defined, "industrial strength charm."

It was inevitable that the conversation turn to some of Balan's own performances. While a clip from The Dirty Picture (2011) played on the screen, Balan noted that the character was incredible and "un-put-downable". Her performance won her the National Award for Best Actress in 2012, and Balan added that she "completely lost body consciousness" while playing the role. 

The movie mela finally turned to Balan's upcoming role in Tumhari Sulu. The actress plays a carefree housewife who turns into a late night radio jockey. Speaking about the character, Balan said the role is a tribute to Sridevi. Sulu, she said, is an "enthu cutlet". The actress said that she enjoyed playing the role, because for the first time, she was "playing a character who smiles and laughs as much."

An enthralling conversation, Balan also expressed that the success of actors often leads directors to be soft with them. "With success, a lot of directors get complacent with actors. I like my directors to push me," she admitted.

While the hosts and guest were involved in a tete-a-tete about roles, a sharp audience member decided to quiz Balan about her new role as censor board chief. Laughing heartily, Balan replied, "I am enjoying the job. I love watching films, and in the course of my work, I often tend to miss them. Now I have a chance to watch films." Balan also added the job might be challenging, but "for now, it is a lot of fun".