Vidya Balan (pronounced [ʋɪd̪jaː baːlən]; born 1 January 1979) is an Indian actress. She has established a career in Hindi films and is the recipient of several awards, including a National Film Award, six Filmfare Awards, and six Screen Awards. She was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2014. Vidya is known for portraying strong protagonists and has been acknowledged in the media for pioneering a change in the concept of a Hindi film heroine. Vidya aspired to a career in film from a young age, and had her first acting role in the 1995 sitcom Hum Paanch. She pursued a master's degree in sociology from the University of Mumbai and simultaneously made several unsuccessful attempts to start a career in film. She subsequently featured in television commercials and music videos. In 2003 she made her feature film debut as the protagonist of the independent Bengali drama Bhalo Theko. In 2005 Vidya garnered praise for her first Hindi film, the drama Parineeta, and followed it with a leading role in the highly successful 2006 comedy film Lage Raho Munna Bhai. This initial success was followed by roles in the romantic comedies Heyy Babyy (2007) and Kismat Konnection (2008) which had negative reviews.
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