Recently, after the Harvey Weinstein case made headlines, there has been an outpour by women on social media. The campaign #MeToo caught on and women started talking about personal experiences that have scarred them. It is just a small step and it goes to show how uncomfortable we still are while talking about these issues. When we met Vidya Balan for a chat, it was almost imperative for us to bring up the subject, given how feisty and fearless she is off-screen.
The actress says, “It’s because women have always been told that, ‘It’s your fault’. Women are told not to wear short skirts and go out. And if we do, we are told, agar kissi ne haath lagaya, toh jaake mat bolna. We are told that we are the temptresses and we have provoked the men. There have been instances where even in rape cases, the woman has been blamed. Often, when a marriage doesn’t work, the tendency is to question the woman. Of course, today things are changing. I know that in a lot of cases, families say things like, ‘She was not adjusting enough. She was more focused on her career’. Talking about this case (Weinstein), imagine this happening in Hollywood, where you would think that with the kind of success and power they have, the women wouldn’t keep quiet. If someone propositioned me, I would kick him where it hurts. I have never had that experience, but I will admit that I have always been on the cautious side. If I ever feel that someone is not giving me that comfortable vibe, I walk away from there. Coming from a family that had no film connections, I was always scared. Initially, when I had to audition for advertisements, my mom would accompany me. Later, when I started doing films, she realised that it’s about how you handle yourself and by then, I had a team with me (make-up and hair staff), so I felt comfortable. In the beginning, I was always wary; in fact, I would never socialise with people or make friends at work. I think it stemmed from the fear that maybe if you are too friendly, people would misconstrue it. You don’t want to be in a situation where you think that a man propositioned you because you were over-friendly or over-familiar. I remember what had happened with John Abraham and me. I would keep laughing a lot with him, and we got along very well. Eventually, everyone thought that we were having an affair. So, on set I am friendly, but beyond that I still don’t socialise much.” Stay tuned for more updates.