BOLLYWOOD: Vidya Balan’s last Bollywood film was 2017’s Tumhari Sulu, a quirky tale about a housewife’s life changing decision to take on the job of a night DJ on a radio station. Since this powerhouse actress hasn’t been seen on the big screen in two years. The actress believes that the film Mission Mangal will not only showcase an important scientific accomplishment by India – the Mangalyaan/Mars Orbiter Mission, but also dent stereotypes as far as women are concerned.
In Bollywood a lot of emphasis is placed on looking a certain way, and sometimes heroines are under pressure to conform to this idea of beauty and style. Vidya revealed why her new film may change the way people look at traditionally-clad women.
“There is an emphasis on heroines to look a certain way but I believe that’s changing. I’ve never adhered to any stereotypes. It’s therefore been difficult sometimes, in the face of criticism. I’ve felt like I was falling short but with time you realise that the best you is the authentic you. And that’s the only way to be – however you look – whatever height, whatever weight, whatever skin colour, however your hair, however your walk… I’ve learned that over time, it’s the most precious lesson that I’ve learned as an actor – to love and accept myself just the way I am.
“I think unfortunately being traditionally attired is looked down upon. It is looked upon as not being cool. And that has to change. Because coolness has nothing to do with what you wear but what you do and how you are. We couldn’t have dressed the scientists any other way on this one because the scientists we are talking about dress like this. Most, if not all the scientists at ISRO, are clad in saris, salwar kameez, or kurtas. I think it’s time this stereotype broke. Because we associate a powerful woman with being dressed a certain way. If she is dressed in a sari, you expect her to speak a certain way, do certain things and not other things. But you know, this woman could have been sitting next to you on a bus, discussing how expensive onions have become, and she was still these women (the scientists). They were part of an extremely important scientific national mission. Indian cinema definitely needs to represent real people as cool. I don’t think enough of that happens. But maybe Mission Mangal will help at least make a dent in that stereotype.”