Why be regular if you could be superb?’… is what Vidya Balan asks ladies by way of her upcoming movie Shakuntala Devi, which is her second biopic after she performed Silk Smitha in ‘The Dirty Picture’.
Doing maths on stage
“Before I met Anu Menon, all I knew about Shakuntala Devi was that she is a genius in maths and a Guinness record-holder. Knowing more about her was amazing. She had so much energy. Not only she made numbers sound the most natural thing, she did maths on stage with humour, while teasing the audience.”
Her daughter and son-in-law helped Vidya get to know her extra. “I have a natural affinity for numbers, which also came in handy. Though I didn’t need to solve sums, I had to rattle out really long numbers. Also, the fact that I enjoy a hearty laugh, just like her, made stepping into Shakuntala Devi’s shoes rather easy.”
However, the hardest half was to get the South-Indian accent right. “I have been very conscious of speaking every language correctly, so worked with a language coach for getting the accent right. It was all fun, like being amongst my family. My parents have a South-Indian accent when they speak, so do my uncle and aunts, but I had to diligently work on it.”
About time ladies shine
“Films are being increasingly made on women achievers, though the sad reality remains that women can pursue their ambition as long as they also manage the home. Children still remain primarily a woman’s responsibility. No wonder working women always carry this guilt. Like it or not, motherhood is still supposed to be the ultimate goal for women. But raising a child is as much a responsibility of a mother as a father.”
Self-belief is vital
Each position leaves you with one thing. “Playing Shakuntala Devi made me realise that with self-belief no goal is unachievable. A girl who did not go to school was recognised as a ‘human computer’ in the whole world. Also, I learnt some Vedic maths; wish I had known in school, it would have helped me hugely then.”
“My mother and father have supported me by way of the ups and downs of life. When in 2007-8, I used to be criticised closely for my weight and dressing sense, I assumed my journey in movies was over. But my mom informed me why take criticism to coronary heart, if you happen to work on it weight might be tackled. Also, she at all times tells me to make ‘self’ the precedence, ‘When you are happy, you make those around you happy!’
That the movie is releasing on a digital platform doesn’t fear Balan. “Given the current scenario, this is for the best. Everyone is at home with their families and that they can enjoy it together works very well,” she says.
Shakuntala Devi releases on July 31 on Amazon Prime Video.