It seems fitting that Vidya Balan is playing the protagonist in Amazon Prime movie Sherni. Ever since her debut in the Hindi film industry with Parineeta, Vidya has frequently made bold choices. It would have been so easy to get typecast after landing her first lead role in a Bollywood feature, as the period-sari-clad heroine. But it seems Vidya learnt to revel in freedom of choice, over the safety of quintessential Bollywood dramas. The streak of independence, it seems, was always there, but the actor took a few missteps before finding her footing.Sherni 2021.
This streak of ‘rebelliousness’ (for a lack of a better word), is evident with the movies she signed post the Pradeep Sarkar directorial. In 2006, we saw Vidya as the spirited radio jockey Jhanvi, the love interest of Sanjay Dutt’s Munna in Lage Raho Munna Bhai. It was a small part, but it helped the audience see Vidya in a new light, in new clothes, as a modern young woman of a new India. Her “Good Morning, Mumbai,” felt vibrant and true, and so did her chemistry with co-star Dutt.Then came Mani Ratnam film Guru, where again Vidya had a small but distinct part, of a person suffering from multiple sclerosis. But despite the artiste’s honest intentions, the character didn’t come through fully due to its thinly sketched outline. This was followed by a critical failure in Akshay Kumar-starrer Heyy Babyy, wherein Balan was judged for her attempt at a glamorous avatar. Similarly, in Kismat Konnection, she couldn’t quite find her place as Priya opposite Shahid Kapoor. In between, Vidya had the main part in Priyadarshan’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa where she shone. Missteps notwithstanding, the actor always thought of pushing the envelope and rushed to break out of the box people tried putting her in.