02 April 2012 Arts & Entertainment the Secret Diary of

Vidya Balan

Do you know Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences is planning to give me a PhD in sexuality?
Vidya Balan
Illustration by Sorit
Vidya Balan

There are times when I feel I need not keep a secret diary. For these days, I have no secrets. A couple of days back, I gave 43 interviews to the media and was groggy by the time it was all over. Oh god, the questions were so repetitive. Every TV channel, every talk show, wants Vidya to discuss the Dirty Picture. From VB, I’m now DP.

Yes, there is one topic which I want to discuss in my secret diary. I have often mentioned how my parents always encouraged me in my career. But it was not the same with many family seniors, the ‘pattis’ (grannies), ‘mamis’, ‘chittis’ and ‘athais’ (aunts of various hues). The Palakkadu Brahmin community to which I belong is quite orthodox and was rather taken aback. (They are more accustomed to normal Tamil movies, watching overweight heroines with thunder thighs romping around.)

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Alamelu patti fixed me with a withering look and snapped, “What is this sexuality you are talking about?” Well, I had explained this in hundreds of interviews but try doing the same to a 76-year-old rolling her rudraksha mala.

Of course, all of them watched Dirty Picture but reactions differed. I was told many of the seniors immediately went to the bathroom to have a long purification bath! Some even visited the nearby Subramania Swamy temple for a special puja. “When there are hundreds of better themes, why do something like Dirty Picture?” I was often asked. “Make producers interested in movies like Krishna Vijayam, Sati Savitri and Sita Kalyanam. They will bring you greater glory than Dirty Picture.”

It’s rather frightening how people linked you with the movie roles. The seniors first watched Dirty Picture and then Kahaani where I play a pregnant woman. After watching me waddle along on the screen, some of the mamis muttered, “Look, this is what happens when you do films like Dirty Picture. You can’t be careful all the time.” A lot of people spotted a heavily pregnant Vidya Balan all over the nation. Yes, it was me promoting Kahaani. I believe in such innovative promotions but there can be problems too. One of my favourite directors offered me a role based on the life of Hollywood’s Gypsy Rose Lee, the most well known striptease artist of her time. Wonderfully challenging assignment but with hardly any role for costume designers. How do I promote this film and how much should I strip in the promotional campaign? I have to decide on this soon.

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But there are compensations. Do you know Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences is planning to give me a PhD in sexuality. A faculty member suggested that to promote sexuality I do an ad on the topic, playing Archimedes (why presume it was a man) jumping out of the bathtub nude having discovered the laws of gravity or something like that. Sounds exciting, but what will the pattis and chittis say?

The Mumbai-based satirist is the creator of ‘Trishanku’

E-mail your secret diarist: vgangadhar70 AT gmail.com

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