Interview with Vidya Balan about her role in Bobby Jasoos
Vidya Balan talks about her role in Bobby Jasoos
Q: Firstly, Bobby Jasoos is creating a huge buzz, so how excited are you?
A: It’s very exciting to know that people are excited about Bobby Jasoos, about the songs and about the trailer. It’s very encouraging.
Q: As the first female detective, how challenging was the role?
A: I’d say it was challenging but also very satisfying. Challenging because I’ve never played this effervescent character before, yet because she’s doing important work as a Jasoos (detective) and you see her doing work most of the time, it couldn’t be frivolous, so I had to maintain that right balance. Actually, I didn’t have to do much. Samashek, the director, got me to do what I’ve done in the film. Most importantly, the script had it all. It’s not just a detective story, it’s really also a human story about a girl from a modest background, in a small mohalan from Hyderabad, and about her aspirations of doing something unusual. About wanting to become a Jasoos, something that’s completely unheard of for someone coming from her background. The way she fights the odds at home also, people wanting her to get married but how she slowly rebels. Not really rebels, but tries to live her dream, even as she’s challenging the status quo. And so much energy, such fun, such vibrance and such colour. So challenging makes it sound difficult, and I wouldn’t say it was difficult. I would say that it was the most exciting part I’ve played.
Q: Can you tell us about your character? You have many different looks, so were you excited? We have seen a number of your looks, and no one can make out that it’s Vidya. So how was it?
A: That is the biggest compliment actually. I knew when I was signing up for Bobby Jasoos that I would be expected to do a lot of disguises and that was very exciting for me. But I had no idea that I’d get to do male disguises, that I’ll actually be in the garble of men. I have played five different men in the film, and I must say, more than ever now, I enjoy being a woman. I’m kidding, I enjoyed the process of creating a person through make up, whether it’s moustaches, beards, stubble, teeth, glasses, etc. The costume and make-up teams have collaborated to make me look completely different, to the point that I couldn’t even identify myself. At those times I’d be taking selfies and saying “Oh my God! This is a keeper!” Every actor hopes for opportunities like this, and I got it, and it’s been a great deal of fun. I wouldn’t say I had to put in much work, really it was the costume and make-up artists who did the work, as far as the disguises were concerned, but I really enjoyed playing along.
Q: How were the reactions of the people on set when you were in disguise?
A: I was always very particular about people’s reactions. I remember this one time when I was in costume and I was fully ready, but the shot wasn’t ready yet. Slowly I stepped out of the vanity van, and just went and stood amongst all the confusion that normally happens on the set. There was some light man who turned and I was standing right behind the light, so he looked at me and he stopped because he realised it could be me. So I just began to pull his leg. Such instances happen with us often. The first day of the shoot in Hyderabad, I was playing a beggar. I was outside Napoli station, sitting with real beggars. Firstly, the other beggars didn’t recognise me, so they began to fight because it was their territory and they have those demarcations. I got a hold of a lady’s hand, and she must have been in such a hurry to go into the station, that she just pushed my hand and said that “You look completely able bodied, why aren’t you working? Aren’t you ashamed to be begging.” I just got the start of my life, but in a second, I just began to giggle because I realised that it was a big compliment on the first day of the shoot. It was the most encouraging thing to happen.
Q: How was it to constantly have to change your hair and makeup?
A: Make-up, hair, costume, all that is part of an actor’s toolkit and that takes times. Over the years, I’ve developed a lot of patience so I don’t mind it at all. I’m not that fidgety. I don’t mind long hours of makeup.
Q: How much research did you do for the film? Did you watch any detective films to get into your role or was there something else?
A: No, I didn’t watch detective films. Obviously over the years, I’ve watched detective films, detective shows, and read detective novels as a kid, The Secret Seven, Famous Five and Nancy Drew. Really, there was no preparation. There’s a detective in each one of us and we constantly want to find things out. I think women are very good at it, as they are at most things, but I don’t think it’s only about women. Women show it, men don’t, they do it trickily and they also try to find out.
Q: Have you ever played Jasoos in your real life, for example as a kid?
A: Of course, so many times! I’ve played detective as a kid.
Q: What do you want to say to the audience?
A: It’s a fun film. It’s a family film, there’s Jasoosi and there’s a story of a girl and her family. There’s also plenty of song, dance, fun and suspense.