Showbiz / Bollywood Actress Vidya Balan Reveals Why ‘Mission Mangal’ Is An Awesome Tribute To Working Women

Bollywood Actress Vidya Balan Reveals Why ‘Mission Mangal’ Is An Awesome Tribute To Working Women

Showbiz Aug 15, 2019

*This interview  first aired on the Open Chest With Raj Girn radio show. This is a transcription of the conversation between host Raj Girn and Vidya Balan.

There’s something to be said, admired, and learned from people who believe so strongly in something, that it consumes their every thought. It’s even more impactful when that something has never been done before and when it finally is, there’s no denying how impactful its reverberation is throughout the world.

Mission Mangal releasing today, is Bollywood’s depiction of a true-life story that accomplished such a feat. The film journeys through the lives of a carefully chosen team of Indian scientists during India’s mission to Mars. If that’s not enough of a reason to want to watch the film, then what is, is the fact that it’s sub-plot tells the multi-layered, visceral story of the women scientists who helped to make the mission a success. 

 I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing one of the many stars of the film, actress Vidya Balan, where we chatted about why this is a must-see film for the family. Additionally, she revealed the strategy behind releasing it on India’s Independence Day and the impact of the female quotient to amplify the message of the story, which is to rise above perceived challenges. We closed off by touching upon whether the role of women in India is changing, to allow for them to have it all. Read on . . .


Vidya Balan. Photo Credit: Dabboo Ratnani
Vidya Balan. Photo Credit: Dabboo Ratnani


Raj Girn: Welcome to my show Vidya!

Vidya Balan: Thank you Raj!

RG: So you know, my show focuses heavily on the point of view of women, so I will be asking you questions related to Mission Mangal from that perspective.

VB: Absolutely!

RG: Before I begin, I just want to share with you, that I’m such a huge fan of your work.

VB: Thank you!

RG: I love how you champion the female perspective in the films that you choose to participate in and you continue to shed light on the multi-layered, rich voices of our women. So, the first question I have for you is, many are coining Mission Mangal, among other things, a tribute to the story of the women scientists who worked to make this mission successful. What was it about this film and the role of Tara that encouraged you to get involved?

VB: Wow! I loved the way you coined the question, because people have been asking me, “Is this a women-led film?” and I keep saying, “It’s not!” Yes, it is definitely a tribute to the contribution of women scientists involved in this mission, because for the first time, we actually saw a considerable number of women being involved in a space mission. And so they are acknowledged for it. So yes, it is a tribute, but we cannot call it a women-led film, because it has an equal contribution from men. So you know, there are enough men in the film as well.

What prompted me to do the film really was the script itself. I had been offered three other films on the same subject, but somehow when this one came to me I said, “This will all come together so beautifully”. It has fictionalized the lives of the scientists, so it’s not fully based on the real life of the scientists. Their names have also been fictionalized. There is also humour. A lot of people have this perception that scientists must be straight-jacketed, almost boring individuals. But this [film], sort of changes that. It lets you see them as wholesome individuals, just like any of us. And the most important aspect of it, is that the science has been simplified, but not compromised. For someone who does not have a scientific mind like me, I think they would value it easily too, so it’s not intimidating. All in all, it’s an entertaining film with humour in considerable doses too. So these are the reasons that prompted me to do it.


Vidya Balan in Mission Mangal.
Vidya Balan in Mission Mangal. Photo Credit: Fox Star Studios


RG: Wonderful! What is interesting about this film Vidya, is that it beautifully showcases the juxtaposition between each of these women’s professional roles and some of their lives as they live at home. What do you feel is the goal behind telling the story this way? It’s very interesting and pretty unique for Indian cinema to portray a juxtaposition like this, especially in a commercial film. I would love your perspective on this.

VB: Honestly, I feel a woman leads multiple lives at the same time. It’s only fair that you show various aspects of her life when you are talking about a woman. And you cannot define it in terms of any one role that she plays. You cannot define her as just a scientist or just as a homemaker, or just as a daughter, or wife, or mother, or sister — she is all of these and more. So it’s fantastic that this script manages to juxtapose the professional and personal troubles and challenges and triumphs and experiences.

RG: For women and girls out there, who feel that they cannot pursue a career, as well as perform their duties at home successfully and with equal importance, Mission Mangal proves that it is possible. I really feel that this message is very strong, especially for women like me, who wear many hats. So, I want to ask you — what would you say to those women and girls out there, who feel that they can only be one layer?

VB: I would love to say Raj, that I think we women are very hard on ourselves. We want to do this, that and the other, though we can do it, because we are natural multitaskers. I think we should rid ourselves of extra baggage, expectations and do exactly what we want to do. So regarding that fear that we want to just focus on our career and have a relationship later, or not get married, or get married and not have children, or not have children at all – I think you should just do what you want to do. Everyone knows we can do many things at one time, but rid yourself of the pressure and do only what you want to be doing at that given point in time.

RG: I wholeheartedly agree with you on that, but we don’t always have the opportunity to do it all, when we want to do it all. Sometimes, there are obligations in life that mean that we have to do everything at the same time and can not choose. So, with the girls we are raising today in India, what would you say to them about managing their expectations to strive to want to do it all? 

VG: You know, I really think the first obligation each of us has is to ourselves. We forget that as women. When you prioritize yourself, the world then prioritizes you and shows respect for your needs, dreams and desires. So even though we have challenges in the way, they may fail. Society has familiar expectations and we will be able to fight back. We will be able to stand up for ourselves and what we believe in, only if we prioritize ourselves. I know it’s easier said than done. It’s a work in progress even for me, but I think it’s extremely important to value ourselves and put ourselves first, because if we don’t put ourselves first, no one else is going to put ourselves first. No one is going to show priority to our values, because we end up showing the world that we forget about ourselves.


Vidya Balan in Mission Mangal
Vidya Balan and Akshay Kumar with the cast of Mission Mangal. Photo Credit: Fox Star Studios


RG: Absolutely. Such wise words Vidya. The film is releasing on India’s Independence Day. I would love to know your thoughts on why that is. As the feminist that I am [laughs], I would say to myself that it’s almost like a message to the women of India to stand up and claim their independence to be who they need to be.

VB: [Laughs] That’s the first time that I have actually heard that, so thank you Raj!  But I do think it’s a great date because families love to watch films that day and it’s a family day, so one can watch with our grandparents and grandkids. It is very inclusive in that sense. I would like to believe that it is a message to the women of today — to fly and reclaim their mind first and then claim the world!

RG: And to fly with their angel wings!

VB: Yes absolutely! Divine feminine.

RG: Absolutely, in the Age of Aquarius! I wanted to ask you one final question. In one sentence, what is the one thing — if you were to say and claim one thing to be the importance of this film — should people watch the film for? 

VG: To realize the impossible is nothing! And conversely, nothing is impossible. It is just a play on words and it means the same thing either way. Whether it’s for women or men or people at large, I think we need a constant reminder of that, that really, nothing in life is impossible.

RG: Other than that which we have in our minds that holds us back.

VB: Yes! Yes! Because I think once the mind can conceive and believe, it can change.


Vidya Balan in MIssion Mangal
Mission Mangal is set to hit theatres on Thursday, August 15th. Photo Credit: Fox Star Studios


RG: I would like to end by saying I have a bucket list role for you.

VB: Oh really, tell me?

RG: It is to play Indira Gandhi one day!

VB: Hopefully sooner than you know.

RG: Am I getting a scoop here?

VB: Yes! I am planning a web series on it, but it’s taking a little bit of time, because it’s a mammoth project, so maybe in a couple of years for sure.

RG: Thank you so much for being on my show Vidya!

VB: Pleasure is mine Raj!

Starring Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Taapsee Pannu and Sonakshi Sinha, MISSION MANGAL releases in theaters all across North America this Thursday and local showtimes have just been announced.

 Find US showtimes:

 Find Canada showtimes:

Take your family, friends, or significant other and go see the movie releasing in theatres today. There are far too many reasons why this is a not-to-be-missed film, and my conversation with Vidya is just a snippet of what to expect. I give it a thumbs up all the way. Jai Hind!


Main Image Photo Credit: Fox Star Studios 


Raj Girn

Raj Girn


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