Biography|April 1, 2012 11:09 am

Vidya Balan Biography

Vidya Balan was born 1 January 1978 and is an Indian actress, who appears mainly in Hindi films, in addition to Bengali and Malayalam films. After graduating with a degree in sociology, she started her career starring in music videos, television shows and commercials, before making her feature film debut with the independent Bengali drama Bhalo Theko (2003). Balan received positive notice for her first Hindi film, Parineeta (2005), and followed it with a leading role in the blockbuster Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006), and other such hit films as Guru, Heyy Babyy and Bhool Bhulaiyaa (all 2007).

2009 marked the beginning of the most successful period in Balan’s career as she portrayed five back-to-back roles to wide critical acclaim in Paa (2009), Ishqiya (2010), No One Killed Jessica (2011), The Dirty Picture (2011) and Kahaani (2012). These roles have further established her as one of the leading contemporary actresses of Hindi cinema and earned her several major awards.

Balan has received one National Film Award for Best Actress, five Filmfare Awards, including two for Best Actress and one for Best Actress – Critics, as well as three consecutive Screen Awards for Best Actress.

Vidya Balan was born in India in Ottapalam, Palakkad District, Kerala, to P. R. Balan (Vice President of ETC Channel) and a housewife mother in a Tamil speaking Palakkad Iyer family.According to Balan, they speak at home “a mix of Tamil and Malayalam”, but she is also well versed in Hindi, English and Bengali.

She did her schooling at St. Anthony Girls’ High School, Chembur, Mumbai, and later attended St. Xavier’s College where she majored in Sociology. She went on to study MA at the University of Mumbai, when she received her first film offer.

December 2011 saw the release of Ekta Kapoor’s The Dirty Picture, a biopic based on the life and death of the controversial Indian actress Silk Smitha. Balan was cast as Silk, who was—in Balan’s words—”known for her brazenness and in-your-face sexuality.” She described the role as the “boldest” she had ever played, one that “required a lot of mental preparation,” and in order to look the part, she gained 12 kgs. The film opened to major critical acclaim, and Balan 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. This award-winning act bookended by her contrasting portrayal in No One Killed Jessica, reaffirms her as the finest artiste on the scene today.

Her director Milan Luthria described her as the contemporary claimant of the sex-symbol title because of her unique sex appeal, and compared her “voluptuousness” to the likes of yesteryear actresses such as Sridevi and Vyjayanthimala. The film was eventually declared a blockbusterwith a total gross of 117 crore (US$23.34 million), emerging as the biggest opening ever for a women-oriented film in the history of Indian Cinema.

Balan won her first National Film Award for Best Actress, a second Filmfare Award for Best Actress and a third consecutive Screen Award for Best Actress that year along with several other awards in the same category for her performance in the film.

In March 2012, Balan featured as Vidya Bagchi, a pregnant woman in search of her missing husband in Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani. The thriller, set in the city of Kolkata during the Durga Puja festivities earned Balan further accolades from film critics. Taran Adarsh mentioned,

Vidya, very nonchalantly, re-evaluates screen acting in Kahaani. She arrives with yet another enlivening, commanding character in this film and her portrayal of an expecting, frantic lady on a mission to trace her husband’s inexplicable vanishing in an unfamiliar land is sure to win laurels by assessors and cinegoers uniformly. This is indeed Vidya’s most eye-catching act. Her body language, her confidence, her vulnerability, her fury, her grief, all fall upon wonderfully.

Rediff.com commented,

Vidya Balan has the gravitas to excel in a role that requires her to be sensible, adamant, sharp, vulnerable and pregnant. Like she’s done with every subsequent release, Balan replaces the memory of her last performance (The Dirty Picture) with a sparkling new one. It’s not a showy, act-out-loud delivery and that’s what makes it so seamless.

Kahaani emerged as a major commercial success both at the domestic and international box office, with a two-week nett gross of 75 crore (US$14.96 million).

As of March 2012, Balan is set to star in UTV Motion Pictures’ Ghanchakkar, to be directed by Raj Kumar Gupta opposite Emraan Hashmi.

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