she aspired to a career in film from a young age, and had her first acting role in the 1995 sitcom Hum Paanch. Vidya Balan pursued a master's degree in sociology from the University of Mumbai and simultaneously made several unsuccessful attempts to start a career in film. Vidya Balan subsequently featured in various television commercials and music videos, and in 2003 made her feature film debut as the protagonist of the independent Bengali drama Bhalo Theko. In 2005 Vidya garnered praise for her first Hindi film, the musical drama Parineeta, and followed it with a leading role in the highly successful 2006 comedy film Lage Raho Munna Bhai. This initial success was followed by roles in the romantic comedies Heyy Babyy (2007) and Kismat Konnection (2008) which met with negative comments from the critics.
The year 2009, however, marked the beginning of the most successful period in she 's career as Vidya Balan portrayed five consecutive roles to wide critical acclaim in the 2009 drama Paa, the 2010 black comedy Ishqiya, the 2011 semi-biographical thriller No One Killed Jessica, the 2011 biopic The Dirty Picture, and the 2012 thriller Kahaani. These roles established her as a leading actress of Hindi cinema and earned her the tag of a "female hero". In addition to acting in films, she promotes humanitarian causes and supports the empowerment of women. Balan initially drew criticism for her fluctuating weight and "questionable" dress sense, but was later credited in the media for "not morphing herself to fit into any conventional slot". Vidya is married to the film producer Siddharth Roy Kapur.
-:Early life and background:-
Vidya grew up in the suburban neighbourhood of Chembur, Mumbai and was schooled at St. Anthony Girls' High School. From a young age she aspired to a career in film and was inspired by the work of actors Shabana Azmi and Madhuri Dixit. At the age of sixteen, she starred in the first season of Ekta Kapoor's sitcom Hum Paanch as Radhika, a bespectacled teenager. Following the success of the show, Vidya refused director Anurag Basu's offer to star in a television soap opera, asVidya Balan wanted to concentrate on a film career. Her parents were supportive of the decision but encouraged her to complete her education first, so Vidya Balan attended St. Xavier's College to pursue a bachelor's degree in sociology and later earned a master's degree from the University of Mumbai.
-:Struggle and debut, 2000–03 :-
While pursuing her master's degree, Vidya was cast as the female lead in the Malayalam film Chakram, opposite Mohanlal and was subsequently signed on for twelve other Malayalam language films. However, due to production difficulties, Chakram was shelved.The postponement of a film starring Mohanlal was an unheard of occurrence in Malayalam cinema and film producers blamed her for bringing "bad luck" to the project; labelled her as a "jinx" and replaced her in all the films that she had been contracted for. She then shifted focus to Tamil cinema. In 2001, Balan was cast as the female lead in N. Linguswamy's Run (2002). However, after completing the first shooting schedule of the film, Vidya was unceremoniously dropped and replaced by Meera Jasmine. Vidya Balan was signed up under false pretences for a sex comedy, a genre she was then uncomfortable with, and thus decided to leave the project. Thereafter,Vidya signed on for a third Tamil film, Manasellam (2003), but was replaced by Trisha Krishnan as the director was dissatisfied with her work. Kalari Vikraman (2003), a Malayalam film that Balan completed work for, failed to get a theatrical release.
After failing to start a film career, Vidya appeared in approximately sixty television commercials and in music videos for Euphoria and Shubha Mudgal; a majority of these were directed by Pradeep Sarkar. In 2003, Vidya was signed on by Goutam Halder for his independent Bengali drama Bhalo Theko; her first film release. Her portrayal of Anandi, a young woman reminiscing about her past, won her an Anandalok Purashkar for Best Actress
In 2007 Vidya featured in a supporting role in Mani Ratnam's semi-biographical drama Guru as a woman suffering from multiple sclerosis. The film, which starred Mithun Chakraborty, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and R. Madhavan in leading roles, performed well at the box office. However, film critics Khalid Mohamed and Raja Sen noted that her "talent was wasted" in a "minuscule role". Her next release was Nikhil Advani's Salaam-e-Ishq: A Tribute To Love, a romantic comedy featuring an ensemble cast, in which she was paired opposite John Abraham. The film, which narrated six individual love stories, saw she play the role of a television reporter, Tehzeeb Hussain, suffering from a memory loss condition. The film, which was a critical and commercial failure, generated positive reviews for Vidya. Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com wrote, "Vidya's transformation from a self-assured working woman to a helpless, vulnerable person is superb."
Vidya then took a supporting role in Vidhu Vinod Chopra's suspense thriller Eklavya: The Royal Guard, alongside Amitabh Bachchan, Boman Irani, Sharmila Tagore, Saif Ali Khan, and Sanjay Dutt. The film, which flopped commercially, met with positive critical reviews and was selected as India's official entry to the Oscars for the 80th Academy Awards. Balan was later cast as Isha Sahni, a single mother, in Sajid Khan's Heyy Babyy, alongside co-stars Akshay Kumar, Ritesh Deshmukh, and Fardeen Khan. The comedy film was a box-office success, but garnered negative reviews from critics, as did Vidya's performance; CNN-IBN's Rajeev Masand criticised her wardrobe and make-up, and considered her the "sore thumb" of the film.
Vidya's fifth and final film of 2007 was Priyadarshan's psychological thriller Bhool Bhulaiyaa, a remake of the Malayalam film Manichitrathazhu (1993). Vidya featured as Avani Chaturvedi (a character played by Shobana in the Malayalam original), a woman suffering from dissociative identity disorder. Co-starring Shiney Ahuja, Akshay Kumar, and Ameesha Patel, Bhool Bhulaiyaa was a commercial success with a worldwide revenue of over 830 million (US$13 million). Reviewers, while being generally negative of the film, were appreciative of Vidya's performance. Writing for Hindustan Times, Khalid Mohamed described her as "bankably likeable" and Bollywood Hungama's Taran Adarsh labelled her as "splendid". The role earned Vidya a second Filmfare nomination in the Best Actress category.
In 2008's social film Halla Bol, Vidya played a supporting role alongside Ajay Devgn and Pankaj Kapur. The film was based on the life of activist Safdar Hashmi, who was killed by political rivals while performing on a street play (by the name of Halla Bol) in 1989. The film was a critical failure. Later that year, she co-starred with Shahid Kapoor in Aziz Mirza's romantic comedy Kismat Konnection. A commercial failure, the film and her performance generated a negative response; critic Sonia Chopra commented, "she is made to look downright drab. The haircut is unflattering, the make-up too plain, the clothes usually in off-white or brown. Plus the character is repetitive and reminds us of the one Vidya played in Lage Raho Munnabhai."
-;Success and critical acclaim, 2009 onwards:-
Vidya followed the success of Paa with the Vishal Bhardwaj-produced Ishqiya (2010), a black comedy directed by debutant Abhishek Chaubey; co-starring Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi, and Salman Shahid. Vidya's role was that of Krishna Verma, a sexually manipulative woman. she described her character as "an epitome of grey" and a departure from the conventional portrayal of women in cinema. In preparation for her part, she undertook professional training to speak in the local Uttar Pradesh-dialect. The feature as well as her performance received critical acclaim; Anupama Chopra of NDTV stated, "Vidya Balan's smoldering looks scorch the screen even as her eyes hint at tragedy. She proves that Vidya Balan is miles ahead of the cookie cutter Barbie dolls that clutter Bollywood and that sensuality has very little to do with showing skin." Her work in the film earned Vidya a Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress, a second consecutive Best Actress award at Screen and a nomination for Best Actress at Filmfare.
Vidya's next appearance was in Ekta Kapoor's production The Dirty Picture, a biopic based on the life and death of the controversial Indian actress Silk Smitha. Vidya was cast as Silk, who was—in Vidya's words—"known for her brazenness and in-your-face sexuality." She described the role as the "boldest"Vidya Balan had ever played, one that "required a lot of mental preparation," and to look the part, she gained 12 kilograms (26 lb). The film opened to major critical acclaim, and she received unanimous praise for her portrayal which several reviewers regarded as her best performance to date. Khalid Mohamed observed, "She's extraordinary: gutsy, consistently in character and unafraid of exposing her darker side. Here's the kind of complex performance which you haven't evidenced in years and years." Her director Milan Luthria described her as the contemporary claimant of the "sex-symbol" title, and compared her "voluptuousness" to the likes of yesteryear actresses Sridevi and Vyjayanthimala. The film was eventually declared a blockbuster, earning 1.17 billion (US$19 million) worldwide. she won a second Filmfare Award, a third consecutive Screen Award, and a National Film Award for Best Actress.
For her next feature film, she starred as Vidya Bagchi, a pregnant woman in search of her missing husband in Sujoy Ghosh's Kahaani (2012). The thriller, set in the city of Kolkata during the Durga Puja festivities, met with wide critical acclaim. To lend authenticity to her part, Vidya met several pregnant women and learnt about their lifestyle.Vidya Balan generated public and media attention by wearing a fake baby bump during the film's promotional activities. Vidya received further appreciation for her performance in Kahaani. Subhash K. Jha praised Vidya's portrayal of "grace under pressure" as "measured and skilled"; Pratim D. Gupta of The Telegraph added that Vidya Balan "gets into the physicality of a pregnant woman with unfailing mastery". Kahaani emerged as a major commercial success both at the domestic and international box office, with revenues of over 1.04 billion (US$17 million). Vidya won a fourth consecutive Best Actress Award at Screen and a third Best Actress Award at Filmfare
After completing the duties of a jury member at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, Vidya starred (opposite Emraan Hashmi) as a "loud" and "boisterous" Punjabi woman in Ghanchakkar, a comic-thriller from director Raj Kumar Gupta.The film received little praise from the critics and was a commercial failure. Rajeev Masand found the film to be "lazily scripted" but added that "Vidya she offers a particularly uninhibited performance as the garrulous, fashion-disaster of a housewife; the kind of part few leading ladies would venture near, or competently pull off." Gaurav Malani of The Times of India was more critical of Vidya's performance and wrote, "Her put on Punjabi accent is a major put off and her nagging wife character irritates after a while." Later that year, Vidya provided the voice of Draupadi for Mahabharat, a 3D animation film based on the Indian epic of the same name.
Vidya has three films in production for a 2014 release. Balan has completed filming on Saket Chaudhary's Shaadi Ke Side Effects, a romantic comedy with Farhan Akhtar, which will serve as a sequel to the 2006 film Pyaar Ke Side Effects.Vidya has also been signed on opposite Emraan Hashmi for Hamari Adhuri Kahaani, a romance from director Mohit Suri, and will be seen in the role of a detective in the Dia Mirza-produced mystery film Bobby Jasoos.
Vidya is trained in carnatic music and briefly studied the dance forms of Bharatnatyam and Kathak. Regarding her religious affiliations, she said, "I am a person with a lot of faith and I have conversations with God all the time but I am not so religious in the conventional, organised sense". She practices vegetarianism and was listed as "India's hottest vegetarian" in polls conducted by PETA in 2011 and 2012. Her weight fluctuations over the years have been the subject of substantial media coverage in India.
Besides acting in film, Vidya promotes humanitarian causes and supports charitable institutions. In March 2011, she endorsed World Wildlife Fund's Earth Hour campaign in India.Vidya campaigned for the cause of nutrition in India for CINI (Child in Need Institute), a non-profit organisation based in Kolkata. In September 2012, she visited a village in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, where Balan participated in a campaign to promote children's education and the empowerment of women. For her attempts to empower women, she was awarded The Prabha Khaitan Puraskar 2012 by the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce; Vidya Balan was the youngest recipient of the award. Vidya has also been appointed by the Government of India as their brand ambassador in the drive to improve the country's sanitary condition. In August 2013, Balan served as the grand marshal of the India Day parade held in New York City. In September that year, Vidya launched a technology-based learning platform for underprivileged children in the Thanapur village of Uttar Pradesh.
-:Media image and artistry:-
Her starring roles in Heyy Babyy and Kismat Konnection also led to considerable attention in the media for her "questionable wardrobe". Several publications listed her as the "worst dressed actress" and her costume designers attributed her failure to carry off western clothes due to her weight and body structure. Vidya Balan was later praised in the media for wearing saris at public events; designer Niharika Khan explained, "Vidya's beauty lies in her curves. She's comfortable in her voluptuousness, and therefore in a sari."Vidya has since been identified as defying "an anglicised idea of sexuality" and embody the idea of "raw Indian sexuality".
After portraying headstrong, independent women in Paa, Ishqiya, No One Killed Jessica, The Dirty Picture and Kahaani, Vidya was credited in the media for breaking stereotypes of a Hindi film heroine.The major commercial success of the latter two also contributed to her being labelled as a "female hero" and Kalpana Nair of First Post noted that with these two films Vidya pioneered a change in the concept of Hindi film heroines over thirty. Film critic Mayank Shekhar predicted, "Just a few smart male actors can completely change the face of a commercial, star-driven film industry. Looking at Vidya Balan it appears, that change could well originate from the leading lady instead." India Today featured her in their listing of the "25 Power Women" and noted that "Vidya Balan has toppled the all dominating hero, reducing him to a supporting role in a male dominated film industry".
Vidya occupied the top slot in Rediff.com's annual listing of "Bollywood's Best Actress" for two consecutive years (2010–11). Vidya Balan also featured in the list for the years 2005, 2006, 2009, and 2012. In 2010,Vidya Balan featured in Filmfare's listing of the "Women we love" In 2012, the magazine Verve listed her as one of India's "Young Power Women" and wrote, "In a reel world peopled by size zero-toned bodies and pretty-as-a-picture heroines, she comes across as completely real and natural – a woman who has followed her own instincts and dared to live her destiny by being her own person and not morphing herself to fit into any conventional slot."