Vidya Balan promoting JalsaVidya Balan (born 1 January 1979) is an Indian actress. Known for pioneering a change in the portrayal of women in Hindi cinema with her roles in female-led films, she is the recipient of several awards, including a National Film Award and six Filmfare Awards. She was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2014.

Vidya aspired to a career in film from a young age and had her first acting role in the 1995 sitcom Hum Paanch. While pursuing a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Mumbai, she made several unsuccessful attempts to start a career in film, and featured in television commercials and music videos. She made her film debut by starring in the Bengali film Bhalo Theko (2003) and received praise for her first Hindi film, the drama Parineeta. This was followed by commercial successes in Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006) and Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007), but her roles in the romantic comedies Heyy Babyy (2007) and Kismat Konnection (2008) had negative reviews.

Vidya went on to establish herself by starring in five consecutive commercial successes, which also earned her critical and awards recognition. These were in the drama Paa (2009), the black comedy Ishqiya (2010), the thrillers No One Killed Jessica and Kahaani (2012), and the biopic The Dirty Picture (2011). The last of these won her the National Film Award for Best Actress. She followed this with a series of films that performed poorly at the box office. This changed when she starred as a radio jockey in Tumhari Sulu (2017) and a scientist in Mission Mangal (2019). The latter ranks as her highest-grossing release. Vidya has since starred in the Amazon Prime Video films Shakuntala Devi (2020), Sherni (2021), and Jalsa (2022).

Vidya also promotes humanitarian causes and supports the empowerment of women. She is a member of the Indian Central Board of Film Certification and hosts a radio show. She initially drew criticism for her fluctuating weight and dress sense, but was later credited in the media for her unconventionality. Vidya is married to the film producer Siddharth Roy Kapur.

Early life and initial career struggles

Vidya was born on 1 January 1979 in Bombay (present-day Mumbai), into a Tamil Brahmin family. Her father, P. R. Balan, is the executive vice-president of Digicable and her mother, Saraswathy Balan, is a homemaker. According to Vidya, they speak a mix of Tamil and Malayalam at home. Her elder sister, Priya Balan, works in advertising. The actress Priyamani is her second cousin.

Vidya grew up in the suburban neighbourhood of Chembur, Mumbai and attended St. Anthony Girls’ High School.  From a young age, she aspired to a career in film and was inspired by the work of actors Shabana Azmi and Madhuri Dixit. At the age of 16, she starred in the first season of Ekta Kapoor’s sitcom Hum Paanch as Radhika, a bespectacled teenager.  After the series ended, Vidya refused director Anurag Basu’s offer to star in a television soap opera, as she wanted to concentrate on a film career. Her parents were supportive of the decision but encouraged her to complete her education first.  She attended St. Xavier’s College to pursue a bachelor’s degree in sociology and later earned a master’s degree from the University of Mumbai.

While pursuing her master’s degree, Vidya was cast as the female lead in the Malayalam film Chakram, opposite Mohanlal and was subsequently signed on for 12 other Malayalam language films. However, due to production difficulties, Chakram was shelved. The postponement of a film starring Mohanlal was an unheard occurrence in Malayalam cinema and producers blamed Vidya for bringing “bad luck” to the project; labelled her as a “jinx”; and replaced her in the films that she had been contracted for. She shifted focus to Tamil cinema. In 2001, she was cast as the female lead in N. Linguswamy’s Run (2002). However, after completing the first shooting schedule, she was unceremoniously dropped and replaced by Meera Jasmine. She was signed up under false pretences for a sex comedy, a genre she was uncomfortable with, and decided to leave the project. She was also replaced by Meera Jasmine in Bala (2002).  Thereafter, she signed on for a third Tamil film, Manasellam (2003), but was replaced by Trisha as the director was dissatisfied with her work. Kalari Vikraman, another Malayalam film that she completed work for in 2003, failed to get a theatrical release.[23][24] After failing to start a film career, Vidya appeared in approximately 60 television commercials and in music videos for Euphoria and Shubha Mudgal; a majority of these were directed by Pradeep Sarkar.

Personal life and off-screen work

Vidya Balan and Siddharth Roy Kapur are smiling at the camera.

Vidya and Siddharth Roy Kapur at their wedding ceremony in December 2012

The mass media has often speculated about a romantic relationship between Vidya and her co-actors, but she has strongly denied these reports. In 2009, Vidya was involved in a controversy when she mentioned a previous relationship in which “caustic remarks” were made at her due to her weight. She said, “If someone who matters to you takes you down, it can break you. That someone whose approval mattered to me started to constantly find faults with me. At that point of time, it was important to walk away from that relationship.” Though she refused to name the person, tabloid reports suggested that she was referring to Shahid Kapoor (her co-star in Kismat Konnection).[157] Kapoor, however, denied the allegations.  During an interview in May 2012, Vidya announced that she was dating Siddharth Roy Kapur, the CEO of UTV Motion Pictures. On 14 December 2012, the couple were married in a private ceremony in Bandra, Mumbai.

Vidya is trained in Carnatic music and briefly studied the dance forms of Bharatnatyam and Kathak.  Regarding her religious affiliations, Vidya said, “I am a person with a lot of faith and I have conversations [with God] all the time but I am not so religious in the conventional, organised sense”. She practices vegetarianism and was listed as “India’s hottest vegetarian” in polls conducted by PETA in 2011 and 2012.[162][163] Her weight fluctuations over the years have been the subject of substantial media coverage in India.

In March 2011, Vidya endorsed World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour campaign in India. She campaigned for the cause of nutrition in India for Child In Need Institute (CINI), a non-profit organisation based in Kolkata. In September 2012, Vidya visited a village in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, where she participated in a campaign to promote children’s education and the empowerment of women. For her attempts to empower women, Vidya was awarded the Prabha Khaitan Puraskar 2012 by the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce; she was the youngest recipient of the award. In 2012, she became the first brand ambassador of the country’s sanitation programme, later renamed as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Since then, she has been part of a nationwide television and radio campaign aimed to increase construction and use of toilets.

In 2013, Vidya served as the grand marshal of the India Day parade held in New York City.  In the same year, she launched a technology-based learning platform for underprivileged children in the Thanapur village of Uttar Pradesh.  Also that year, Vidya featured as the host of No More Kamzor, a television special on women empowerment.  On the occasion of International Women’s Day in 2015, Vidya wrote an opinion column in Hindustan Times on the issues faced by women in India. In August 2017, Vidya was made a member of the Indian Central Board of Film Certification, to certify films for theatrical exhibition. The following year, she became the goodwill ambassador of Arpan, an NGO that creates awareness on sexual abuse. In 2019, she collaborated with BIG FM 92.7 to host a radio show named “Dhun Badal Ke Toh Dekho”.

Anandalok Awards

The Anandalok Awards are awarded annually by the ABP Group in Kolkata to professionals of the Bengali and Hindi film industries.  Vidya has won the award twice.

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref.
2004 Bhalo Theko Best Actress Won
2007 Bhool Bhulaiyaa Best Actress – Hindi Won

Asian Film Awards

The Asian Film Awards are presented annually by the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society to members of Asian cinema. Vidya has received one nomination.

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref.
2012 The Dirty Picture Best Actress Nominated

Asia-Pacific Film Festival

The Asia-Pacific Film Festival is organised by the Federation of Motion Picture Producers in Asia-Pacific. Vidya has received one nomination at the festival.

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref.
2012 Kahaani Best Actress Nominated

Asia Pacific Screen Awards

The Asia Pacific Screen Awards is an annual ceremony held by the Brisbane City Council, Australia in association with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the Fédération Internationale des Associations de Producteurs de Films.  Vidya has received one nomination.

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref.
2012 The Dirty Picture Best Actress Nominated

BIG Star Entertainment Awards

The BIG Star Entertainment Awards is an annual event organised by the Reliance Broadcast Network. Vidya has won two awards from seven nominations.

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref.
2010 New Talent of the Decade – Female Nominated
Ishqiya Most Entertaining Film Actor – Female Won
2011 The Dirty Picture Won
2012 Kahaani Nominated
Most Entertaining Actor in a Thriller Film – Female Nominated
2013 Ghanchakkar Most Entertaining Actor in a Comedy Film – Female Nominated
2014 Bobby Jasoos Nominated

FICCI Frames Excellence Honours

The FICCI Frames Excellence Honours is an annual award ceremony organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Vidya has won three awards.

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref.
2010 Paa Best Actress in a Leading Role Won
2011 Ishqiya Won
2012 The Dirty Picture Won

Filmfare Awards

Established in 1954, the Filmfare Awards are presented annually by The Times Group to members of the Hindi film industry. Vidya has won six awards.

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref.
2006 Parineeta Best Female Debut Won
Best Actress Nominated
2008 Bhool Bhulaiyaa Nominated
2010 Paa Won
2011 Ishqiya Nominated
Best Actress (Critics) Won
2012 No One Killed Jessica Best Actress Nominated
The Dirty Picture Won
2013 Kahaani Won
2017 Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh Nominated
2018 Tumhari Sulu Won
Best Actress (Critics) Nominated
2020 Mission Mangal Best Actress Nominated
2021 Shakuntala Devi Nominated
Best Actress (Critics) Nominated

International Indian Film Academy Awards

The International Indian Film Academy Awards (shortened as IIFA) is annual international event organised by the Wizcraft International Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. to honour Bollywood artists. Vidya has won four awards from eleven nominations.

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref.
2006 Parineeta Star Debut of the Year – Female Won
Best Actress Nominated
2007 Lage Raho Munna Bhai Nominated
2008 Bhool Bhulaiyaa Nominated
Best Performance in a Negative Role Nominated
Guru Best Supporting Actress Nominated
2010 Paa Best Actress Won
2011 Ishqiya Nominated
2012 The Dirty Picture Won
2013 Kahaani Won
2018 Tumhari Sulu Nominated
2021 Mission Mangal Nominated
2022 Sherni Nominated

National Film Awards

The National Film Awards are awarded by the Government of India’s Directorate of Film Festivals division for achievements in the Indian film industry. Vidya has received one award.

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref.
2011 The Dirty Picture Best Actress Won

People’s Choice Awards India

The Indian version of the American People’s Choice Awards, the People’s Choice Awards India, is awarded to recognize talents in Indian film, television, music and sports. Vidya has received one nomination.

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref.
2012 Kahaani Favourite Actress Nominated

Producers Guild Film Awards

The Producers Guild Film Awards (previously knows as Apsara Film & Television Producers Guild Awards) is an annual event originated by the Film Producers Guild of India. Vidya has received five awards.

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref.
2006 Parineeta Best Actress Nominated
Best Female Debut Won
2011 Paa Best Actress – Special Honour Won
Ishqiya Best Actress Won
2012 The Dirty Picture Won
2013 Kahaani Won

Screen Awards

The Screen Awards ceremony is organised by the Indian Express Limited to members of Hindi and Marathi cinema. Vidya has received six awards from ten nominations, including four consecutive Best Actress wins.

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref.
2006 Parineeta Best Female Debut Won
2010 Paa Best Actress – Popular Choice Won
Best Actress Nominated
2011 Ishqiya Won
2012 No One Killed Jessica Nominated
The Dirty Picture Won
Best Actress – Popular Choice Nominated
2013 Kahaani Nominated
Best Actress Won
2017 Tumhari Sulu Won

Stardust Awards

The Stardust Awards are an annual event organised by Magna Publishing Company Limited.  Vidya has won five awards from thirteen nominations.

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref.
2006 Parineeta Female Superstar of Tomorrow Won
2007 Lage Raho Munna Bhai Nominated
2008 Guru Best Supporting Actress Nominated
2010 Paa Female Star of the Year Nominated
2011 Ishqiya Best Actress in a Thriller or Action Won
Female Star of the Year Nominated
2012 The Dirty Picture Won
Best Actress in a Drama Won
No One Killed Jessica Nominated
Female Star of the Year Nominated
2013 Kahaani Nominated
Best Actress in a Thriller or Action Won
2014 Bobby Jasoos Nominated

Zee Cine Awards

The Zee Cine Awards are an annual award ceremony organised by the Zee Entertainment Enterprises. Vidya has received five awards.

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref.
2006 Parineeta Best Female Debut Won
Best Actress Nominated
2008 Bhool Bhulaiyaa Nominated
2011 Ishqiya Won
2012 The Dirty Picture Won
Best Actress (Critics) Won
2013 Kahaani Won
Best Actress Nominated
2017 Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh Nominated
2018 Tumhari Sulu Best Actor – Female (Viewer’s Choice) Nominated
Best Actor – Female (Jury’s Choice) Nominated

Other awards and honours

Year Nominated work Award Category Result Ref.
2014 Padma Shri Won
2016 Indian Film Festival of Melbourne Female Empowerment Award Won
2018 Tumhari Sulu Indian Film Festival of Melbourne style=”background: #FFE3E3; color: black; vertical-align: middle; text-align: center; ” class=”no table-no2″|Nominated