Birthday Girl Vidya Balan On Sulu and Her Plans for the New Year

Up, close and personal with Vidya Balan who brings in her birthday with the new year.

5 min read
Hindi Female

Mercy be. She wasn’t ever cut out to be the zero-figure flapper girl. Saris and bindis, kurtas and loose shirts over jeans, have been her fashion statements.

Now, don’t you dare to bring up Heyy Babyy or Kismat Konnection please. Let’s delete them as aberrations.

Indeed, check out Vidya Balan closely now. Her talkative eyes, a dentist’s delight of a smile, and above all her voice which artfully blends itself into a variety of accents, have been the lethal weapons in her professional armoury.

From the time she was 26 in Parineeta to the here and now as she turns 39 today, the award-amassing Tumhari Sulu, strikes me as her own master’s voice. No fumbling, no anything goes when it comes to communicating with the lights, sound, camera.

Which is why she’s one of the few B-town denizens who doesn’t shrink like a violet on being quizzed about voice modulation, accents and some sundry side-effects posers sneaked in. Here, then, is collating Balanspeak:

Thoughts on Her Birthday

Thoughts, thoughts? I don’t don’t know, because my birthday falls on the first day of the year. I guess it’s not just a New Year for me, it’s a New Year for the world.

One is always grateful for the year gone by. I’m looking forward with a lot of excitement to 2018. Actually, I’m a clean slate at this point of time. So I don’t know what to expect.

I brought the New Year is by celebrating it with my near and dear ones, and that’s always great fun. What else? In the coming year, my focus is going to be more than ever on making the most of every moment, smiling, laughing, being happy. Yeah that’s it.
Up, close and personal with Vidya Balan who brings in her birthday with the new year.
Vidya Balan with husband Siddharth Roy Kapur at her birthday party on new year’s eve. 
(Photo: Yogen Shah)

Getting Into the Seductive Hellooo Voice of Night Radio Jockey Sulu

It wasn’t difficult because (director) Suresh Triveni didn’t want me to change my voice.

There was a certain way he spoke the very first time he narrated the script to a voice adopted by night radio jockeys that’s slightly intimate, slightly husky, almost as if they’re whispering into your ears. That’s the only thing I followed.

My voice didn’t really need any training, there was a style which I had to adopt and I did. I didn’t have to listen to too many RJs because Suresh Triveni had done all that research already.

Diction and Dialects

I have always been attracted towards linguists. Please don’t let that entice any one-track-minds out there please. I mean there is something special about any man – or woman – who has a special regard for language. So I was always envious of my elder sister Priya, who knows a smattering of practically ever language. She can string words together to communicate effectively.

We are Tamilians from Pallakad in Kerala. With time, like my sister I have picked up nuances of Rajasthan. Ever since we were kids living in the Chembur neighbourhood of Mumbai, we have been conversant with Gujarati and Marathi. English was the basic medium of education. Hindi as well as Punjabi we picked up from our Chembur neighbours, the Aggarwals.

I love Bengali too, I’m fluent in it. I was introduced to it by the cinema of Satyajit Ray. I have seen all his films except for Paras Pathar.

I did study French in school. Perhaps in schools, they should teach spoken French instead of the grammar...because you can get lost in the labyrinths of the past, present and future.

The Urdu Lehza

Up, close and personal with Vidya Balan who brings in her birthday with the new year.
Vidya Balan with the writer Khalid Mohamed.
(Photo courtesy: Khalid Mohamed)

Aah, Urdu has that quality of romanticism. It is elegant, royal, even gaalis in Urdu sounding charming. My first image of Urdu as a language is associated with the TV series Mirza Ghalib, which I would watch diligently when I was a kid. Naseeruddin Shah’s command over the language is impeccable. As an actor, it’s a must to get one’s pronunciation right, with the correct emphasis on certain syllables.

The nuances of Hindi too, require discipline. My head would have been on the chopping block of I had faltered with any of the lines in The Dirty Picture. Of course, I had to keep in mind that it was my character, Silk, saying the lines and not me. In Ishqiya and Bobby Jasoos, I tried to convey the dialects of east UP and Hyderabad respectively.


Who’s the Perfect One?

See Meryl Streep is amazing, whether she’s playing playing American, Polish or British. As Margaret Thatcher in Iron Lady, she was word perfect.

Dialogue of the Unforgettable Kind

Movie dialoguebaazi Now that may not be the way we speak in real life but a balanced element is a must for cinema. Take the wonderful dialogue about life dangling us like ‘kathputlis’ enacted by Rajesh Khanna in Anand. In real life, that wouldn’t sound authentic. I cinema it has become memorable.

Up, close and personal with Vidya Balan who brings in her birthday with the new year.
Vidya Balan on language, diction and first-time directors.
(Photo courtesy: Khalid Mohamed)

Remember the Rumoured Crush on Gulzar?

Up, close and personal with Vidya Balan who brings in her birthday with the new year.
Vidya Balan with Gulzar.
(Photo courtesy: Twitter)

There you go, Mr One-track Mind. I have marvelled over the lyrics and poems of Gulzar saab in their recorded forms and in Roman scripts.I hope to read more also of Firaq and Mir Taqi Mir by and by. I’ve been an aspiring Urdu speaker.

Once at a function, I couldn’t even say the word ‘idiot’ in front of Gulzar saab, he would have thought that I’m very ill-mannered. I am a No. 1 fan of his ghazals. The first-time I met him, I was tongue-tied. Nervously, I rattled off something in Bengali to the photographers who were at the spot.

Oh Oh, What to do About Foul Language?

By my upbringing and nature, I’m conservative when it comes to foul words in any language. I guess it’s okay to use cuss words once in while among friends..but never with one’s peers and colleagues. All that mc-bc-tc-vc is disrespectful. Once Dada (director Pradeep Sarkar), quite uncharacteristically, screamed at technicians on the sets of Parineeta. I froze with fright. Today, I’d be okay with that.

Trust In First-time Directors

Ah, you mean Suresh Triveni? But then I made my Hindi film debut with Dada in Parineeta. It just happened he was 50 when he directed his first feature film. In any case, this ‘first-time’ thing is not an issue really. I just like to work with filmmakers who are driven and invested as I try to be. And first-time directors are thoroughly possessed and want to make a mark in an industry which can be quite competitive.

Any Last Words on Her B’day?

You asked for this! Helloooo…Sulu ke saath kaun baat karna chahta hai?

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Topics:  Vidya Balan   Parineeta   Tumhari Sulu 

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