Vidya Balan has been one of the most prominent actors in Bollywood and has given us some brilliant female-centric films. But she’s equally badass off-camera! From interviews to calling out reporters, here are our favourite moments when Vidya Balan called out gender equality, sexism and misogyny in the industry. 

1. When she basically schooled Bollywood about Feminism. 

Feminism is about realising your own worth as a woman and as an individual, and thereby, challenging the status quo. It’s not about hating men.

2. When she admitted that just like all of us, she too is a work-in-progress. 

I’d say my understanding of feminism has also evolved over the years and now, I would like to say that I am a feminist work-in-progress.

3. When she was honest about how Bollywood can be sexist, without sugarcoating it. 

The film industry has been really nice to me. I’m quite head-strong. But I think it can really be sexist. In the initial phase of my career, I did face a fair amount of sexism. I used to be really angry about that. 

4. When she gave us examples of the double-standards that exist in the industry. 

I was told he has been given dates, so you have to work around them, but I was never asked like that. The male actor would always get a bigger van, a bigger hotel. People would always say like, ‘do you need to listen to story?’

5. When she acknowledged her privilege and spoke about her conscious effort to pick the right kind of films.

I was lucky I got into the business with a movie like ‘Parineeta’, no one questioned the rules I set for myself. I have been told that a female actor’s life is not much, so you have to look younger. You got to look glamorous. I always told myself no, it is not like that. 

6. When she slammed a sexist and body shaming question asked by a reporter, about when she would lose weight and work in a glamorous role.

I am very happy with my work. It would be better if you change your perspective.

7. When she spoke about the fact that other actresses are also taking female-centric films forward in a Filmfare interview. Her statement goes a long way to show that women can support women in this industry.

We’re all changing the narrative. It’s not just about one person anymore. The wave just grows stronger and people join in.

8. When she spoke about being body shamed and finally learning how to love her body. 

My weight issue had become a national issue. I have always been a fat girl; I wouldn’t say that I am at a stage where my fluctuating weight doesn’t bother me anymore at all. But I have come a long way. I have had hormonal issues all my life. For the longest time, I hated my body. I thought it had betrayed me. On the days I was under the pressure of looking my best, I would bloat up and I would be so angry and frustrated.

9. When she admitted that she starved herself to fit into the ideal body type that society imposed on her. 

“When I was a teenager, people would tell me, ‘You’ve got such a pretty face, why don’t you lose some weight?’ It’s not a nice thing to say to anyone. Be it a child or a grown-up. So, I’d starve myself, I’d go through crazy exercise regimens and lose weight. Then the hormonal issue would settle for a bit before it reared its head again. 

Saying all the right things!