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Why Vidya Balan is all set to be the female version of Aamir Khan in Bollywood….

Many actresses have looks and talents and a few have both. But what sets a handful apart is when audiences wait for their next as unique and different, as unsual choices, and worth watching. Post her initial success, Balan, like Khan floundered in a couple of commercial films that did her talent no merit. But quickly, she found her ground and stood it. She is treading the fine line between off-beat and commercially successful that possibly only Rekha could before here, where her films now make for coffee-table discussions.

What works for Balan is her sheer versatility. She can morph herself into the character, much like Khan, so that there isn’t a trace of her real-life persona visible, besides her voice and features. No mannerisms, no particular nuances that one attributes to a person. She doesn’t bring herself on screen, she only brings a character, and that too a finely-drawn, deeply nuanced character.

That is possibly the difference between a fine actor and a movie star. A movie star can’t let go of their own persona, even momentarily on screen – think Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor – while a fine actor becomes whom he/she requires to be on screen. Many actors can don this persona for a specific kind of role – Ajay Devgn for gansta films, Abhishek Bachchan for Guru, Saif Ali Khan for Omkara, or Anil Kapoor for humorous, slimy characters like the one in Slumdog and MI4. And some like Saif Ali Khan and Anil Kapoor can even show a breadth of talent across the board. The others not listed here, like Ranbir Kapoor, are all extremely watchable, entertaining and even powerful in their screen presence, but they can’t let you forget who it is on screen that’s playing that role. Their personal presence often or momentarily overpowers their character.

To become another person on screen, and remain so through the entire film, over and over again through a wide range of films is possibly the mastery of only two actors at the moment in Hindi cinema – Aamir Khan and Vidya Balan. Their choices will always be followed, their movies will always have a definite audience, and their fans will remain discerning. That is not to say that there isn’t a place for other actors and movie stars, but it is to point out that Khan and Balan will remain a class apart in their profession of choice – acting. They will remain actors before they become superstars or moviestars.

Movie references:

Vidya: Ishqiya, No One Killed Jessica, The Dirty Picture, Paa, Parineeta, Guru, Salaam-e-ishq

Aamir: All his films since he began doing a single film a year! (mid 90s), particularly the ones in the last decade.