Vidya Balan (pronounced [??d?ja? ba?l?n]; born 1 January 1978) is an Indian actress, who appears mainly in Hindi films, in addition to Bengali and Malayalam films. After graduating with a degree in sociology, she started her career starring in music videos, television shows and commercials, before making her feature film debut with the independent Bengali drama Bhalo Theko (2003). Balan received positive notice for her first Hindi film, Parineeta (2005), and followed it with a leading role in the blockbuster Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006), and other such hit films as Guru, Heyy Babyy and Bhool Bhulaiyaa (all 2007).

2009 marked the beginning of the most successful period in Balan s career as she portrayed five back-to-back roles to wide critical acclaim in Paa (2009), Ishqiya (2010), No One Killed Jessica (2011), The Dirty Picture (2011) and Kahaani (2012). These roles have further established her as one of the leading contemporary actresses of Hindi cinema and earned her several major awards. Balan has received one National Film Award for Best Actress, five Filmfare Awards, including two for Best Actress and one for Best Actress - Critics, as well as three consecutive Screen Awards for Best Actress.

Early life

Vidya Balan was born in India in Ottapalam, Palakkad District, Kerala, to P. R. Balan (Vice President of ETC Channel) and Saraswathy Balan, a housewife mother in a Tamil speaking family.According to Balan, they speak at home "a mix of Tamil and Malayalam", but she is also well versed in Hindi, Marathi, English and Bengali.

She did her schooling at St. Anthony Girls High School, Chembur, Mumbai, and later attended St. Xavier s College where she majored in Sociology. She went on to study MA at the University of Mumbai, when she received her first film offer.

Career beginnings (2003–2004)

Her acting career started when she signed up Chakram, a Malayalam film alongside Mohanlal, which was shelved. After that, she signed for the Tamil film, Run, but for reasons undisclosed, she was dropped after a first schedule and replaced by Meera Jasmine.She was also the first choice for the female lead in another Tamil film Manasellam, but was replaced by Trisha Krishnan during the production.When Chakram was restarted with Prithviraj in the lead, Meera Jasmine was again chosen ahead of Balan.

She then turned to television advertising. From 1998 onwards, she appeared in numerous television ads, many of which were directed by Pradeep Sarkar. She also took supporting roles in music videos, appearing with singers and bands such as Euphoria, Shubha Mudgal, and Pankaj Udhas. Balan also portrayed the role of Radhika Mathur in a few episodes of the later seasons of the comedy television serial Hum Paanch.In 2003, she appeared in the Bengali film, Bhalo Theko directed by Goutam Halder,for which she won the Anandalok Puraskar Best Actress award in Kolkata.

Breakthrough (2005–2008)

Balan made her Hindi film debut with Pradeep Sarkar s musical drama Parineeta. Before being cast for the film, Balan had to undergo extensive auditions for a period of 6 months.The film, an adaptation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay s novel of the same name, narrated the love story of an idealist Lalita (Balan) and an egoist Shekhar (Saif Ali Khan), the son of a capitalist businessman. Upon release, her performance in the film was acclaimed by critics, with Derek Elley from Variety writing, " An acting revelation is Tamil newcomer Balan, whose devoted but dignified Lalita is the picture s heart and soul."She eventually won a Best Debut (Female) award and received a nomination for Best Actress at the Filmfare Awards ceremony.

After the success of her first two films, the producer who dropped her from Manasellam was keen to sign her opposite Kamal Hassan for Dasavathaaram but she rejected the offer and Asin Thottumkal was signed instead. In 2006, she appeared opposite Sanjay Dutt in Rajkumar Hirani s musical comedy film Lage Raho Munna Bhai. Balan portrayed the role of Jhanvi, a radio-jockey and the love interest of the protagonist Munna Bhai. In order to prepare for her role, she met with a couple of radio jockeys and watched them at work. Once again her performance was well received by critics and the film became the second highest grossing film of the year with a net total of INR118.57 crore (US$23.65 million).

Personal life

During an interview in May 2012, Balan announced that she was dating Siddharth Roy Kapur, the CEO of UTV Motion Pictures.