After nine years of making movies and always being on the go, Vidya Balan decided to take some time off at the beginning of this year. “I needed to make some lifestyle changes. I’ve started sleeping by 11 every night and eating on time. I have been taking things easy, spending time with Siddharth (Roy Kapur) and my family, reading, and watching films. We did short weekend trips. I am just chilled and vegetated,” she says.
It’s not like Vidya hadn’t had any down time since she burst on the Bollywood scene with Parineeta, but nothing compares to just chilling for a month. “I might not have been shooting or promoting a film, but I was always preparing for the next film or meeting director for narrations. In the last month, I didn’t do anything…anything! It was very crucial for me to take this time off for my health and to replenish myself with freshness. I underestimated how being mentally occupied can be exhausting. At the beginning of my break, I wondered what I will do in that month and then before I knew it, the break was over. But at the end of it, I felt like a different person. Your energy levels are different when you are well rested.”
This one month off has done a world of good for Vidya, who has become a champion of long breaks. “Someone told me that if you want to change your sleep pattern, you need to sleep at the same time 40 days in a row. I couldn’t even two nights. That’s how chaotic all our lives are. Sleeping early is something I really needed to do. And I am enjoying its benefits. My days are longer because I wake up earlier and I feel so much better.”
Immediately after her break got over, Vidya got busy with the promotions of her next release, Bobby Jasoos. She loved the idea so much, she spent a whole month getting to know first-time director Samar Shaikh even before she signed on the dotted line. “Samar is a first-time director and I had no idea of his work. So I spent a month meeting him and the writer, and asking them every possible question about Bobby and her world. That month was crucial for me as an actor because I need to develop that trust in my director. I need to be comfortable enough that if the director tells me to roll on the floor without a proper reason, I should just follow his instruction.”
What caught Vidya’s attention about Bobby was her ‘child-like enthusiasm’. “She is not one of those shatir jasoos. She learns the ropes as she goes about solving cases. Also, she wants to be the best in her mohalla. The setting of her aspiration is so beautiful because everyone in our films only talk about being larger than life. Extraordinary is about the ordinary, that’s what got me interested instantly.”
While most actresses shy away from deglamouring on screen, Vidya seems to revel in it. From Dirty Picture to Bobby Jasoos, she has always gone out on a limb to look like the character. “When I was growing up, my mother would say everyone is beautiful and that shaped how I think of beauty. For me, beauty is as beauty does. As an actor, the challenge is in being somebody else and if that someone has facial hair or wears really revealing clothes, why won’t I do it? I don’t want to play Vidya Balan in every film!”
While Vidya has remained mostly controversy-free for most of her career, this year has been a little brutal on her. Between her opting out of Sujoy Ghosh’s next and the pregnancy and cheating rumours, she’s been in the papers constantly in the last few months. What’s going on? “Opting out of Sujoy’s film triggered everything. People couldn’t understand why I had done it, so they had to dig around for reasons. Hence, came the pregnancy. I opted out of the film because I was going through some health issues that I chose not to talk about. I think, at a time when people take tweeting or posting about what they ate for lunch, no one could fathom how I could not talk about why I wasn’t doing Sujoy’s film. I am very open as a person, but there are so many things that are extremely private. I expected people will start talking about me being pregnant. I am not someone who gets angry or perturbed, but I did get upset for about two days when Siddharth got dragged in. Not only were the rumours baseless but also because he is not a celebrity. I finally calmed down when Siddharth and my family told me to ignore everything.”