Showbiz / Up Close: A Chat With Actress Vidya Balan

Up Close: A Chat With Actress Vidya Balan

Showbiz Jun 02, 2013

The Bollywood star dishes on her latest movie: The Dirty Picture and her love affair with Toronto.

If you were strolling along Harbourfront, St. Lawrence Market or even grabbing dinner at Spring Rolls on Front Street and you thought you saw someone who looked just like Vidya Balan. Well, you did.

When she realized I was calling from Toronto, Vidya who was doing her rounds of interviews for her latest film project, The Dirty Picture, set for worldwide release tomorrow, December 2, 2011 immediately squealed, "Toronto?!? I love Toronto. It's my favorite city in the world! Honestly!"

Well, thank goodness for that, as it immediately set the tone for a quick 10 minute chat while she was in her car en route to the airport in Hyderabad — jetting to Bangalore as part of her promotional tour — at 5AM no less.

She was awake and was ready to reminisce about her Toronto stay —at the hotel, which to our amusing discovery, is just across the street from me —while she was here in 2007, shooting Kismat Konnection.

But we had business to discuss first, and that was her latest flick. Set in the 80s, The Dirty Picture revolves around an item girl who becomes that "unsung heroine" and the inspiration for all of her fans. The Dirty Picture is directed by Milan Luthria (Once Upon A Time In Mumbai), and co-stars Emraan Hashmi, Tusshar and Naseeruddin Shah. Vidya's character "Silk" according to her, is not based on the real "Silk Smitha" the real life Tamil dancer/heroine. Even though various notable publications have reported as such, I'm going to side with Vidya in this case.

And why did she sign on? Vidya explains the uniqueness of the project and the power of the dancer during that time of filmmaking. "[The Dirty Picture] revolves around lesser known screen players. It was in the 80s where a lot of the time, the lead cast would wait for the [item] girl's dates and the films would be sold in the basis of her dancing."

The 80s backdrop (shot on location in Hyderabad) was something she immediately was drawn to, simply because that era of filmmaking is so engrained in the present day South Asian's cinematic mind. "We have been watching these films forever. I think we have even been tickled by the kind of films that they were made at that time." Vidya explains, "The sensibilities of today's generation have changed, but everything then was a lot more in your face and over the top and providing that fantasy. That was the time they would just break into a song right at that instant without a connection — and rolling downhill fully clothed, dancing in the barn — it was fun and I've gotten a kick out of doing this film."

In The Dirty Picture, Silk is a power player in the South Indian film industry, which "gives it an added flavour, colour and texture." Explaining that during that decadent era, the item girls mainly did come from the South and therefore that resonance of her character to that part of the subcontinent was naturally strong.

I couldn't leave the conversation without indulging into some girl-chat about fashion and beauty. And yes I'm saying "chat" because much to the chagrin of the poor publicist who set up this phoner, I was frightfully over my alotted time and was in the receiving end of frantic text messages wondering if we were done. (Sorry Vijash). 😉

Beauty Secrets

Essentials: Moisturizer (I don't wear makeup unless I'm facing the camera.)
Secret: I just try and keep calm. That is more than anything else. Be calm and happy especially under stressful situations. I try to maintain that because that takes care of your skin and your hair.
Tip: I have to make sure that my mind, my body and spirit is working in my interest and not against it.

Fashion Secrets

Favorite Designer: Sabyasachi Mukherjee. He has contemporized traditional Indian fabrics and styles beautifully. I wear his stuff most of the time. Other than that, I don't really follow any one brand.
The Look: My look is minimal and as simple as possible. I love wearing cotton and that's a great fabric for Indian weather. Most often, I wear Indian clothing such as shalwar kameez and churidar pajama. It has to be feminine. Which is why I enjoy wearing Indian clothing all the more, because it is very feminine.

But Vidya wanted to go back and chat about my — pardon me — our neighbourhood. "Tim Horton's!" she cheered. I told her that another visit is in order as the area is now teeming with new eateries that she would just die for, adding that when I go back for coffee I'll have one for her. She laughed in her deliciously husky voice and made a small request: "Oh, and I'll have a French Vanilla!".

Sources:,, Facebook, and Twitter

Hina P. Ansari

Hina P. Ansari


Hina P. Ansari is a graduate from The University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario). Since then she has carved a successful career in Canada's national fashion-publishing world as the Entertainment/Photo Editor at FLARE Magazine, Canada's national fashion magazine. She was the first South Asian in...


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