The concept of a female-driven film isn’t new to Hindi cinema yet whenever a film with a female protagonist releases, it is all that anyone can talk about. The thought of a woman leading a film is still alien to some and thus, the tag of a ‘female-driven film’ refuses to leave the vernacular of the movie-going audience. In a chat with Vidya Balan, who was recently seen in Jalsa, indianexpress.com asked the actor why we still like to associate films with this tag and Vidya had an interesting take. The actor shared that the tag is somewhat necessary given the vast disparity between the male-driven and female-driven films.
Vidya said, “When there are enough female-led films, I don’t think we will feel the need to specify ‘it’s a female-driven film’. If you see the sheer number of male-driven films vs the number of female-driven films, we still lag behind which is why I think, there is still a need to tag our films. But yeah, we are headed in the right direction.”
Vidya’s career is made of various strong characters, and a lot of those characters came at a time when mainstream female actors were often seen playing not-so-meaty roles in big-budget extravaganzas. In the last few years, Vidya has played a famed mathematician in Shakuntala Devi, a forest officer in Sherni, and a journalist in Jalsa, and with every role that she portrays on screen, the complex nature of the characters she plays gets more pronounced. Vidya shared that the parts she is offered are “no longer unidimensional” and are “not just defined in terms of her relation to the men in the story.” “We are being seen as people, with our own struggles, with our own triumphs, with our own desires and dreams, our own individual journeys. You’re seeing that on-screen but that’s also because I think in the world around us, women are taking center stage and that’s only bound to reflect in what you see on screen,” she said.
The Parineeta actor is humble about the fact that the parts she is being offered now are nuanced and layered, but the fact is that she has been playing such characters from the start of her career. “I assume centre-stage in my life. I think which is why I veer towards the kind of stories I do,” she said. Talking of the gender imbalance that is sort of a given in our society, Vidya added, “I keep telling people, for example, when a couple gets married, people use sentences like ‘do jism ek jaan‘ and I keep saying ‘listen, please don’t buy into that because do jism aur aadmi ki jaan, humari jaan rehti nahi hai’. I feel there is a change in the way we women are looking at ourselves, what we want from our lives and how we are going about getting it. That also finds translation on screen.”
The Kahaani actor was one of the trendsetters amongst her generation of performers to pick roles that added to the conversation, but Vidya shared that she never really had a “strategised plan.” She shared that to date, she is still going with the flow and seems like, it’s working well for her.
Vidya will next be seen in a romantic comedy with Pratik Gandhi, Sendhil Ramamurthy and Ileana D’Cruz, directed by Shirsha Guha Thakurta.