Happy birthday, Vidya Balan: Revisiting actor's pathbreaking, female-centric roles
There is no role that Vidya Balan can't ace! Be it a role as layered and nuanced as a privileged yet guilt-stricken woman in the social drama Jalsa or a haunting witch-like figure in the beloved Bhool Bhulaiyaa, everything is right up her alley. And what better day to revisit some of her most pathbreaking roles than her 44th birthday? Let's dive in.
Let's start with her latest, Jalsa, which premiered on Amazon Prime Video in March 2022. Jalsa was a treat to watch because of Balan's impeccable performance as a privileged, ambitious single mother who grapples with her own demons as her gaping guilt ceaselessly gnaws at her. She sunk her teeth into the multifaceted, nuanced, author-backed role, leaving no room for loopholes or complaints.
Who can forget Balan's pulsating dance on the wistful, deeply haunting cult classic Ami Je Tomar? The atmospheric tension, her costumes, and her smudged makeup are the stuff nightmares are made of! Balan's flawless dual portrayals of Avni and Manjulika made her stand out effortlessly in Priyadarshan's 2007 multistarrer psychological thriller, and her iconic role will be mentioned each time Balan's filmography is discussed.
Amit V Masurkar's environmental thriller Sherni was released directly on Amazon Prime Video in June 2021. Set against the backdrop of wildlife conservation, this one-woman show is the story of a woman defying all societal restrictions and patriarchal hindrances to pave her professional path while also saving endangered animals. It won Balan the Best Actress award at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne.
'The Dirty Picture'
To talk about Balan's remarkable oeuvre and not mention the groundbreaking The Dirty Picture (2011) would be blasphemous. The film had initially shocked and stunned viewers back then, who were eventually swooned by the audacious and gutsy approach Balan lent to the role. She brought the exact amount of chutzpah needed to portray Silk Smitha onscreen and won stupendous commercial and critical acclaim.