I was bowled over by Vidya Balan’s performance in ‘Kahaani’ – Shabana Azmi

Shabana Azmi
Shabana AzmiThe peaks of excellence that Vidya Balan is currently touching belonged to Tabu. That’s the feeling of those close to Tabu. Interestingly, Tabu supporters like Gulzar and Shabana Azmi (the latter being Tabu’s aunt) who swore by Tabu’s talent are today swearing by Vidya Balan’s talent.

Gulzar who once said Tabu had ushered in a new wave for the Hindi film heroine, a la Jaya Bhaduri and made two feature films with Tabu, is today on the verge of starting his first feature film in 12 years with Vidya Balan in the lead.

Shabana sees Vidya as her true inheritor. “Somewhere I feel Vidya has made the daring but right career choices. I see glimpses of my own involvement with my roles in Vidya Balan,” say Shabana appreciatively after watching Balan in Kahaani.

Shabana is currently playing a wily politician in Rajkot for Vishal Bhardwaj’s Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola. She took time off from her shooting in Rajkot to watch Kahaani. “I had to watch Kahaani because of Vidya. I was bowled over by her performance. As an actor I could see she was making all the right moves throughout the film. There was not a single artificial note in her performance.”

Remind her that Vidya reminds us of the Shabana wave that swept Indian cinema in the mid-1980s when right in the thick of the Bachchan wave, Shabana did a series of woman-oriented clutter-breaking films like Mahesh Bhatt’s Arth, Jagmohan Mundhra’s Kamla, Kalpana Lajmi’s Ek Pal and Pravin Bhatt’s Bhavna and Shabana concurs, “Vidya is a game-changer. At a time when our cinema is male-dominated more than ever she has gone from No One Killed Jessica to The Dirty Picture to Kahaani. It’s a rare accomplishment. Yeh ladki kya kar rahi hai (what’s this girl doing?).”

Shabana also sounds a note of caution in the euphoria surrounding Vidya’s rise to the top. Says Shabana, “If she continues to dominate her films she might very soon face a scarcity of co-stars. Heroes might be apprehensive about being paired with her.” Shabana faced that situation when films featuring her in the central role co-starred Vinod Mehra or Marc Zuber.

Vidya found the Bengali star Parambrata Chatterjee sportingly supporting her heroine-centric presence in Kahaani. But would she run out of co-stars in her future efforts at hero-giri? Cautions Shabana, “Vidya should avoid the pitfall of only doing central parts. She should also enjoy doing peripheral parts as much as the pivotal ones. Being the centre of attention could be addictive. She must learn to also be part of a cinema that doesn’t focus on her but has something important to say.”

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