Vidya Balan: From an Upcoming Star to a Silk Queen

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on November 28, 2013

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Heroine Par Excellence

The latest TVC of Tata Nano that is going viral on the net celebrates “Youness”. But perhaps, no one else defines the concept of celebrating oneself as beautifully as Vidya Balan does. The love for her work is apparent and she does not hesitate to play a loud mouthed Punjabi woman in “Ghanchakkar” or the sultry actress in “The Dirty Picture”. She refuses to climb on to the bandwagon of the size zero celebrities whose plastic looks and equally plastic work adorns tabloids- popular today, non-descript tomorrow. She instead, lets her work do the talking. The talk is so powerful that she was asked to be on the Cannes jury at the 66th rendition of the famous festival this year.

The Beginning


The “Young and Rubicam Brand Asset Valuation” model displayed above could throw some light on the standing of Vidya Balan when she entered the industry as a whiff of fresh air in “Parineeta”.  She was the niche brand- a debutante who could hold her own against older heroes like Saif Ali Khan and Sanjay Dutt.

Vidya was hailed as the next-big-thing-in- town. After all, entering the highly nepotistic Indian Film Industry on one’s own steam and then, sprinting away a la Milkha Singh to success was a feat unheard of. The industry, in its new-found wisdom, awarded Vidya the Filmfare Award for The Best Debut- Female.  Life could not have been more rosy for this lady who had faced utter disappointment before her foray into the industry. From being labelled as a bad omen in the Malayalam film industry to being the much-coveted Rolls-Royce which could do no wrong, things seemed to have turned a full circle for her.

Mid-Career Crisis?

A brand remains a brand when it capitalises on its differences and builds on it. It loses its so-called “wow” factor when it seeks to join the horde. It happened with BlackBerry, a brand that my group chose as its subject for the term project, when it launched a slew of models like BlackBerry Curve and BlackBerry Torch to cater to the youth in the face of competition from companies like Samsung and Apple. It is ironic indeed that the world rewards the outliers only when they refuse to listen to what the world has to say!

Vidya Balan was facing an acute dilemma. After the initial hoopla faded, she was left to deal with the fact that Indian film-makers made films like the one she had debuted in, very rarely. The films that were made on a regular basis though, were the kind where the actress had no acting to do per se except for stand beside the main hero and make him look good, and in some cases, make him look younger.

Vidya chose to cover round holes with her resolutely square peg. She did movies like “Heyy Baby” and “Kismat Konnection” that resulted in the erosion of her unique brand equity. She tried to offer what the audience wanted- a Barbie doll which looked good on the shelves. Vidya was not a Barbie and could never be one. She knew that too and perhaps, this resulted in the utter lack of confidence that she displayed in these run-of-the-mill movies. Brickbats rained on her and soon shattered her confidence. Even movies like “Bhool Bhulaiyya”  where she portrayed a girl with a dissociative identity disorder and “Guru” where she remained wheel chair bound for the entire length of her cameo, went un-noticed and un-admired as the perception was now built that she had no mettle and was a one-film wonder.

The Rise of the Phoenix

R. Balki, the director of Paa, the film that was to become Vidya’s moment of glory, said that she had lost her “youness” in the crowd somewhere. Vidya knew that too and went into a shell to re-discover herself. She realized in that period of solitude that she had what perhaps no other actress of her time had- the ability to act. Her sole differentiation factor was that, and she had chosen to sacrifice that at the altar of mass appeal.

“Paa” saw the rejuvenated actress metamorphose into a powerhouse- the kind that challenged the other actors in the movie to match up to her standards. Criticism still abounded - her weight was the bone of contention this time- but she was conviction epitomised. The box office rewarded her and she was well set on the path to become, as one would have called it- The Female Big B of the Indian Film Industry.

Vidya followed it up with movies like “Ishqiya”, “No one Killed Jessica”, “The Dirty Picture” and “Kahaani” all of which left the audience spell-bound. These movies also proved that she was no longer to be considered the moll of “masala heroes”. She was the hero. Period.

And with this, she had successfully broken into the tough-to-break-into Leadership Quadrant of the Brand Valuator matrix.

The road ahead…

“The journey to the top is arduous,

The sense of achievement at the zenith is ultimate.

However, the road that leads to the nadir is swift, slippery and full of regret.”

It takes just a pinch of complacency to reduce a brand to a commodity. Vidya is in that precarious position where there is only one way-down. Already, there is rampant talk that her turn as a boisterous character in her latest release “Ghanchakkar” wasn’t perhaps as entertaining as her act in “The Dirty Picture”.

A brand, once created, arrogates to itself, the curse of dynamism. Here’s a hope from an ardent fan of hers that the “Ooh La La” saga does not bite the dust because of this curse. But, knowing her history where she has survived more knocks than most, perhaps, this lady could turn the curse into a boon.

This article has been authored by Ankita Singh from IMT Ghaziabad


1. Philip Kotler, Kevin Lane Keller, Abraham Koshy, Mithileshwar Jha, Marketing Management- A South Asian Perspective,2009, 13th Edition, Pearson Education Inc.

2. Various articles from

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