Vidya Balan: ‘I need to feel the need to play a character, to live this person’

Sujoy Ghosh’s upcoming compelling suspense thriller, TE3N (Translated: THR3E) will see award winning actress Vidya Balan on our screens for the first time this year.

The film sees her join a seasoned cast of some of India’s most coveted acting talents – celebrated veteran, Amitabh Bachchan; golden boy of new age Indian cinema, Nawazuddin Siddiqui. The three, screen powerhouses are united onscreen in a darkly atmospheric suspense thriller, set against a cryptic backdrop of Kolkata’s labrynthian by-lanes and alleyways.

An Indian film for an international platform, Te3n has been creatively produced by Sujoy Ghosh, whose 2012 release, Kahaani, with Vidya, was globally lauded by critics and audiences alike. Masters of their craft, Dasgupta and Ghosh have collaborated to deliver an authentic, nouveau noir thriller, combining cinematic artistry with a compelling narrative. A haunting soundtrack by composer Clinton Cerejo blends seamlessly with the mise en scene to further immerse audiences.

We managed to catch Vidya ahead of the film’s release and talk about the film, her look in the film and what excites her about a film.

We have missed you. We last saw you in your only release for 2015, Vidya 5Hamare Adhuri Kahani. You’ve Te3n coming up and Kahaani 2, can we see more of you in 2016?

Oh, thank you! Yes, I’ve also got a marathi film in which I’ve done a special appearance [upcoming movie ‘’Ek Albela’], so hopefully you won’t miss me again for a long, long time.

What made you choose to do a guest appearance in Te3N?

I think firstly, you know, I liked the story. So even though it was a smallish role and they were offering me a special appearance, I was eager to do it one always wants to be part of a good film. And I felt the director, Ribhu Dasgupta, had a different approach to the story – I thought it was slightly different from the usual kind of thrillers. And thrillers are my favourite genre, so I’m always excited to do a thriller. And then of course Sujoy Ghosh and I were working together after six years after Kahanni, and Amitabh and Nawazuddin are people I’ve worked with before, but you don’t leave an opportunity to work with them anyway! But there are lots of reasons why I did Te3n, more than three! [Laughter] Sorry, that’s a bad joke!

It is a special appearance though, and when you see the film you’ll see that I’m not all over the film as much as I am in the trailer. Let’s call it a longish guest appearance!

Let’s talk about your look in Te3n. Do you ever have a say in how your character is presented in the film?

Yes, I definitely have a say in terms of when you read the character, you have a certain sense of the person. You would then discuss this with your director and the costume director, and then in varying degrees, the director has a vision of how the character will be styled and will look, and the costume designer and the actor will follow his lead. But there is scope for dialogue and discussion, and then we arrive at a final thing. But Ribhu has done this for all the characters in TE3N and I think he has managed to make it very, very real. And another reason I wanted to do the film was I’ve always coveted the cop uniform, but unfortunately I didn’t get to wear it! But you know, at that level, apparently a lot of female cops don’t really wear a uniform. And the hair needs to be tied up, and it’s a very practical, non-fuss look.

Naturally everyone is excited to see you and Mr Bachchan back on screen after your last successful film Paa. Do you ever feel awestruck when working alongside such legends as Amitabh Bachchan? Vidya 3

Well you know, I’ve been a fan of his since I was a child, there are stories that my mom tells me that if his songs were shown on the television at dinner time then I wouldn’t eat! But thankfully for me, I think in front of the camera I just see that person as their character and not as the actor or in this case, the legend that he is. Also I think there should be huge, huge credit to him because for example in Paa, he was unrecognisable which meant that I could definitely perform comfortably and easily with him. And in this again, when I saw him, it was a very different Mr. Bachchan than the Mr Bachchan I meet at social functions – it was the character John Biswas. So I think that helps transport me, and also audiences, into his world. And then you aren’t intimidated.

What are the key factors you look at before agreeing to be part of a film? What excites you about a film?

I think for me it has to grab me, instinctively. I need to feel the need to play a character, to live this person. Also very important is that I share the director’s vision, because I may like the character and I may like the story, but do I share the director’s vision? A good producer ensues that the film gets its dues, in the making and finalizing and all of that. So I think there are a few considerations that I take into account, before I take part in a film.

We’d like to wish you all the best for the film TE3N, and we’re looking forward to seeing more of you!

Thank you!

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