Vidya Balan is like the ocean, active on the surface and calm and deep within. She is a sensible person, self-made and prefers not to talk much about her good deeds. Few know that she is associated with AmFar [Americans for AIDS Research] and Hale House, a home for children born with HIV and affected by drug addiction. She also involves herself with the Harvard AIDS Institute, by hosting forums and participating in events throughout the year. Vidya has learnt to achieve the fine balance between caring for others and loving oneself…
What kind of person are you?
I am friendly and love being with people close to me.
But the media thinks you are haughty…
Nobody has ever told me I am haughty, and if anyone thinks that way, it’s a misconception. It’s just that I can’t multi-task or do many things at a time. So when I’m working, which I enjoy doing immensely, I focus on it single-mindedly. At that time, to others, I appear reticent.
Moving on…You had lost a lot of weight? How do you maintain it?
I have been training with Vilayat Hussain, for a while now. He teaches me Callisthenics, a form exercise that comprises a variety of simple movements, which I do 4 – 5 times a week.
Because it is an extremely dynamic workout that takes care of all the elements of exercise from toning and strengthening muscles to cardio—all in one. And since these exercises use my body’s own weight for resistance, I can do them anywhere.
Besides, I need to do a workout that is innovative and different; going to the gym or doing the same workout daily bores me. I have tried it all—hatha yoga, ashtanga yoga—but could never stick to any, as it got repetitive after a while. Callisthenics have kept my interest going.
Are you so particular about your diet as well?
Not really. I eat everything and don’t count each calorie I put in my mouth [laughs], but I am a sensible eater. I eat every two hours, which automatically reduces my portion size. When you start eating this way, your metabolism improves and you can stay in shape.
Is that how you manage to keep the weight away?
I have a dietician—Pooja Makhija—who I consult regularly. Besides that, I make sure to sleep for at least 6 – 8 hours. If you don’t sleep enough, you put on weight as it slows your metabolism. I drink a lot of water and follow some basic rules, such as never to mix rice and roti. I am not much of a rice person anyway. So I eat more roti than rice, which also helps.
But I make sure that I don’t starve myself of any food item, as then you tend to overeat to compensate.
You seem to be very conscious about your health…
Because good health is very important for happiness. Frankly, I don’t know what comes first, good health or happiness? It’s like the chicken or the egg story.
I feel happiness is equally, if not more important for good health. I know many people who are ill but are happy and that’s why they are surviving. You can be happy if you are ill, but you won’t be healthy for long if you are unhappy. As for me, I pray and exercise to be happy as well as healthy.
Just like everything else, you are finicky about cleanliness…
I am a stickler for cleanliness and I think I am a bit extreme in this aspect. I know I can’t go about changing the world, but I make sure my room, my car, my cupboard and my vanity van when I am on a shoot is spick and span. I make sure that things are in order in my life and around me. I get it from my parents—my dad is a perfectionist and my mom, a great home maker.
Speaking of mom and dad, how do you feel about your family?
Family, for me, is the reason for my being. I feel blessed to have the family I have and I think they are the only constant in my life. They are my strength and have helped me achieve all that I have today.
You said you liked order in your life, what if life doesn’t oblige?
By God’s grace I live life on my terms; I have fought my way to make it that way and will continue to do so at any cost. Having said that, I realise that one does not have control of everything, but one can be in control of himself or herself.
I try and manage efficiently what I can control, the rest I leave to God. I have learnt to surrender. If I am brought to a point where I cannot control things or I am not getting what I want, I know it’s for a reason. What has brought me there [in that situation] is what will bring me out of it as well. I have that faith.
Are you always so balanced and sensible?
I snap just like everybody else. Every human has bad days and I have them too. But I am relatively a calm person because I pray a lot.
So you are religious…
I am not religious, I am spiritual. I don’t believe in a particular form of God, but I love going to temples and shrines. I love Ganeshjee—one of the reasons for that is the elephant is my favourite animal [laughs].
What do you mean when you say ‘spiritual’?
Being spiritual for me is just about praying to the extent that after a point God is no more external, but a part of my internal identity. This is a constant endeavour for me and helps me ingrain spirituality in my life.
Were you always spiritual or did something make you this way?
When I was in the fourth standard, my father had a massive heart attack. At that time my mom would tell me to pray that he comes home fine. I would pray hard and he did come back hale and hearty. That was the turn in path for me and that’s when my conversations with God began.
Is that how you stay positive?
Besides praying, my way of dealing with negativity is to chat with family or close friends. I also exercise regularly as it helps release stress. The adrenalin rush while exercising negates moods swings and unreasonable thoughts.
Your advice to Complete Wellbeing readers
Keep faith, if life has brought you to a juncture it’s for a reason. If you find yourself in a mess, remember you will find your self out of it too!
- Role model… My sister, Priya
- Best friend… Actually I have three: Puja, Swati and Manisha
- Favourite cuisine…Thai
- Can’t do without… 8 hours of sleep, but manage to get about 6
- Happiest moment… When I bagged the lead role in Parineeta
- Success is… Personal
- Fondest memory… My sister’s wedding
- Most important in life… Family and faith
- Education is… A necessity
- One habit you’d like to change… Sleeping late