Vidya Balan is an Indian actress. She has established a successful career in Hindi language films of Bollywood and is the recipient of one National Film Award, five Filmfare Awards, and five Screen Awards, and was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India. She is known for portraying strong female protagonists and has been acknowledged in the media for breaking stereotypes 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 various television commercials and music videos, and in 2003 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 musical 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 and Kismat Konnection which met with negative comments from the critics.