Discussing the ups and downs of life, Vidya Balan talks to Shubarna Mukherji Shu how she calmly surfed the waves life gave her.
With depression, anxiety clawing into the industry, how have you stayed untouched?
I think everyone deals with problems whatever they might be on an individual front, it is subjective. Speaking for myself, I am someone who has to talk about everything, every time! Whatever I am going through I share it with Siddharth and my family – my tears, my fears, my anger I share everything shamelessly. I am not holding onto it or bottling it up. I always have this need to get on with it.
I will dive in and get it over with, with my near ones. Somewhere you get the strength to face it. Of course, faith helps – in oneself or God, in the universe. The fact is that nothing really lasts forever – not the good, nor the bad.
When I was riding that high during Paa, Ishqiya, The Dirty Picture, Kahaani, I desperately wanted to prove to myself that I had it in me! My survival depended on it, so I went on relentlessly. I didn’t know how to take a break – if I would see myself sitting for a while I would get anxious. I would not sleep. Perhaps it was because I debuted at the age of 26; it was the late start that had me being anxious all the more.
Then before my marriage – and I will never get over this – I didn’t take a break. My mother kept telling me to take a break, go get massages or something, but no, I was working up till 11days to my wedding. Those 11days too were spent settling things in Siddharth’s – which is now our – house because I didn’t want to get into it after our honeymoon…right from getting the kitchen settled, my wardrobe, the house in general. There was no time, no break.
I wanted to take a month off after my marriage but then Shaadi Ke Side Effects happened. I didn’t want people to think post marriage she is being unprofessional so I did it. I felt like I was on a treadmill constantly, until I had this wake-up call. I fell ill. When I went to the doctors, I was told it is nothing. All I needed was rest. It was as if I was a rubber-band being stretched too thin.
It is said, that if you give yourself time to do the smaller things in life, you will have the energy to do the bigger things. That is what happened, I realigned my priorities. I started sleeping by 10.30pm – 11pm.
It might not have been easy to decide that you would take that break even when you were ill… with the constant media speculation – it tends to harbour insecurities.
I have just the solution for it – I don’t read what’s written. I just don’t want to know what someone somewhere is saying. I know how my interview has gone, I like the way you write so I will end up reading it but I won’t be reading this article to know what you have written about me. I know what I am.
This maturity has happened over time; initially I would go through every word in the newspaper and if they said one thing was off, it would bother me. But really there is no end to that. So now I just don’t bother with it. Siddharth tells me, ‘My God, you are so thick-skinned’. But the fact is I am not, and this is the only way I can protect myself.
Also Read: Audience has evolved-Vidya
Do you remember a time you failed to protect yourself, how did you cope and rise above that?
It was the time when I was going through that low because of my health, and there were things written about my marriage. I was extremely angry. I hadn’t read what was being written but I got to hear about it.
I thought it was unfair on their part to drag Siddharth into it. There had been no provocation at all. You write about his work, he is not an actor so you don’t write about his personal life. You get into the personal lives of actors and that is fine. I ranted about it a lot but again once I had calmed down. I said it is only when you matter that people write about you so it is okay! Believe me, that’s the only way to look at it…
Professionally, which was your lowest low… and coming to terms with that…
When Ghanchakkar didn’t go well, I dealt with a lot of guilt. That was my first film with UTV, it was the first film post marriage – to release post marriage, though we filmed it earlier.
I found it very difficult, I felt like I had let him (Siddharth) down. They were going through a spate of successful films, and that was the only one in between that didn’t work. You know, it took me months to come to terms with it. I constantly kept saying, we shouldn’t have worked together, thinking perhaps the magic had waned… there are all kinds of things playing on your mind.
Today, I am okay, having gone through all those doubts, fears and more, because some new part of me got revealed to me through it all. Success or failure of a film is not one person’s doing. Since I am not someone who hoards the success of a film, if I am someone who is sharing that, then I should also be sharing the failure. I am not the only one responsible.
So, like I said, I was shocked out of my wits when Ghanchakkar failed but I was a little better dealing with Shaadi Ke Side Effects, and even better with BOBBY JASOOS. With Humari Adhuri Kahani, I was almost not touched by the lack of success. I think I am kinder to myself now. I have realised I am human.
I can go without sleep for three days straight but I won’t – my sleep is precious. Your ups and your downs goad into your path of life. That’s not to say that another failure won’t break your heart or a sudden high won’t make you feel like you will never touch ground again… but it is still better, to just do your bit and let the rest take its course.
Post The Dirty Picture, Kahaani, I was suddenly given the reins. People started saying I was the fourth Khan, that I had changed the dynamics for the Hindi film heroine.
I never imposed on my views on anything but people started seeking my opinions even more than before. Suddenly I found myself talking about things I didn’t necessarily understand. With time, I realised I don’t want any pressure. I will do what I like to do, and only what I enjoy doing!