“This place has all kinds of people,” says actress Vidya Balan. She’s obviously referring to the colourful film industry. Having spent over 15 years in the movies, she’s had varied experiences. We asked her to narrate the three funniest encounters.
There was this one instance after The Dirty Picture when this fairly well-known producer, an old-timer, came to me and said ‘I’ve got a great idea. The Dirty Picture was such a big hit, now let’s make The Dirty Political Picture!’ It was hilarious. It was basically every scene in The Dirty Picture but it wasn’t films she was doing, it was driving a political party she was joining and giving speeches. I told him, ‘I’m sorry I’m not interested in politics so I don’t want to do it’. And what he said next really offended me. He said, ‘What is your price? Whatever it is, I’ll double it ’. I said, ‘I’m not selling vegetables’. The producer then said, ‘Don’t be offended’. And in my head I replied, ‘the only thing to be offended by is that you want to make a film like this!’ But I was really livid that he said that to me. This place (the film industry) has all kinds of people.
There was this narration I won’t forget. When people narrate really well, it’s a joy but some people narrate too well. So there was this gentleman who could have chosen to sit at home and read to himself but he chose to come to my house and do it. When he spoke I couldn’t hear jack shit so I kept going nearer to make out what he was saying and suddenly he shouted and I got the fright of my life! I think the character was supposed to get angry at that point (in the script) and he screamed at me. I burst out laughing and said ‘sorry, sorry this is just nervous laughter’. But then I couldn’t stop laughing so I said ‘can you give me two minutes?’ I went out with my manager and kept laughing because she was also laughing. Then, finally both of us came back into the room and he started and again I started laughing. He got offended and didn’t narrate the rest of the script to me.
There was another instance where this boy was apparently waiting outside my van for 9 days. I don’t know if it’s true but that’s what they told me. And finally one day someone came and told me to just meet him for two minutes and that he had a script for me. I called him into the van and he came in and dived at my feet! I jumped back and said ‘What are you doing?!’ He just said ‘you are my goddess and I know that the answers to all my problems lie with you. I’m going to make my first film with you. Just see how much I love you’. Part of me was a little scared so I just told him to calm down and sit down. Because he said he hadn’t eaten for 9 days, I arranged food for him and then he opened his script. On every page he had only pictures from my films. One scene would have pictures from Bhool Bhulaiyaa, different moods from the movie, including Manjulika. The next page you’d have something from The Dirty Picture and so on. And I said ‘but these are all different characters’ and he said ‘no this film has everything! Is main sab kuchh hain.’ I guess that’s what the Indian hotchpotch looks like. (laughs)