The news that Kangana Ranaut had been chosen to play the late Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalitha in a new biopic created a lot of flutter. It was even reported that she would be paid an unheard of sum of over INR 20 crore for her work, making her the highest paid actress of Bollywood. However, it now comes to light that Kangana was not the first choice to play the part in the bio-pic to directed by AL Vijay. It was Vidya Balan.
Says a source close to the project, “Vidya is of Tamilian descent and intellectually and emotionally equipped to play a figure as formidable as ‘Amma.' However she for reasons best known to her, she opted out leaving the coast clear for Kangana Ranaut.”
We now know that Balan has a very legitimate reason for not playing Jayalalitha. She is committed to playing former PM Indira Gandhi in a web series to be produced by her husband Siddharth Roy Kapur. Vidya, who was last seen in the award-winning Tumhari Sulu is fully immersed in the process of understanding the heart mind and politics of India’s first Iron Lady. Says another source who is aware of the Indira Gandhi venture, “Vidya wants no distractions. She is unlikely to accept any movie offers while she plays Mrs Gandhi. She wants to get Mrs G’s physicality, her body language and speech pattern right. She is working on it.” Knowing how well Vidya goes into the depth of the role she is playing, it can be safe to assume that she would do full justice to it.
Interestingly, no attempt would be made by Vidya Balan to physically resemble the original. Instead, she is likely to focus more on the body language and the tone. Some years ago, when Manisha Koirala had been signed to play Mrs Gandhi for a film that was to be directed by N Chandra, the makers had even arranged for a prothetic nose for the actress. Unfortunately, that project never happened.
It will be interesting to see this war of biopics on female politicians between Kangana and Vidya. Who do you think will do a better job?