From the dork in Hum Paanch to being one of India’s most refined actresses: The untold Kahaani of the Parineeta


From Silk Smitha in Dirty Picture to Begum Jaan; Lalita in Parineeta to the pregnant wife and feminist icon on a quest for her husband in Kahaani – Vidya Balan seems born to be in front of the camera. But, the journey to stardom was not a sharp upward graph.

With 12 shelved projects in Malayalam and Tamil between 2000 and 2003, her confidence was smashed. She began taking up any work she could get. Even when the Film and Television Institute of India called her for small projects, she had to ask for conveyance and stay at the college hostel during the run of the project. In fact, she even tried her hand at being an assistant director, but soon realised that it was not for her. Her past performance, in the TV show Hum Paanch, which had run from 1995 to 1999, came to her rescue. It landed her the role of the darling Lalita in Parineeta.

But with hits come misses, and Balan deals with the flops like breakups. The first step is “verbal diarrhoea”, that is, telling her family “every little detail.”A Sai Baba temple near her house is her safe haven. “You don’t want to listen to the songs from the film and you don’t want any memories creeping up, you just want to push it aside.” After few such flops, she realised that her instinct is the only thing she should rely on. Balan went on to bring about a revolution in Hindi cinema with her iconic female-centric films such as The Dirty Picture, Ishqiya, Kahaani and Begum Jaan.

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