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Vidya Balan States She Was a Target of Nepotism: Recalling Being ‘Singled Out’ for Costume Choices in “Heyy Babyy”

Vidya Balan, a powerhouse in the Indian film industry today, has navigated her way through the challenges, including the pervasive issue of nepotism. Speaking candidly on the podcast “Unfiltered with Samdish,” Vidya shared her experiences of being a target of nepotism, particularly recalling an incident involving the Filmfare Awards 2008.

The Controversial Filmfare Incident:

During the 2008 Filmfare Awards, Vidya Balan received what was termed the “Na-Real” award for her costumes in Sajid Khan’s film “Heyy Babyy.” The award, akin to the Razzies, was presented humorously by co-hosts Shah Rukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan. Initially hesitant, Vidya accepted the coconut-shaped trophy, symbolizing the “Na-Real” award, presented to her in the audience.

Vidya’s Response:

Reflecting on this incident, Vidya revealed that she was puzzled by the award, as she believed that her costume choices were not solely her decision. Despite her newness in the industry at the time, she voiced her willingness to share the award with the costume designer and director. However, she was discouraged from doing so. This realization marked her first major encounter with nepotism in Bollywood.

Impact of the Incident:

Upon reaching the venue, Vidya discovered that another actor who was supposed to receive the “Na-Real” award had backed out, leaving her as the sole target of the segment. Feeling isolated and vulnerable, Vidya decided to name her director and costume designer during her acceptance speech, causing ripples within the industry. However, this bold move subjected her to backlash from friends and supporters of the implicated individuals.

Vidya’s Perspective:

Recalling the incident, Vidya expressed her feelings of isolation and vulnerability, emphasizing the significance of having a protective shield in the film industry, especially for those without familial connections. She described the experience as akin to bullying, highlighting the unfair treatment she endured due to her non-film background.

Na-Real Awards and Vidya’s Response:

The Na-Real awards, presented humorously by Shah Rukh and Saif during the Filmfare ceremony, aimed to poke fun at industry shortcomings. Vidya, however, turned the tables by not only addressing her Heyy Babyy director Sajid Khan and costume designer Manish Malhotra but also playfully responding to Shah Rukh and Saif’s banter. Her famous comeback, “Wow, I didn’t realize Yash Raj has such cool waiters,” showcased her wit and resilience in the face of adversity.

Continued Success:

Despite the challenges she faced, Vidya Balan has continued to thrive in the industry, delivering memorable performances and breaking barriers. Her recent role reprisal as Manjulika in “Bhool Bhulaiyaa 3” further cements her status as a versatile and resilient actor.


Vidya Balan’s journey in Bollywood serves as a testament to her talent, resilience, and determination to succeed despite facing nepotism and adversity. By speaking out about her experiences, she sheds light on the need for inclusivity and fairness in the film industry, inspiring others to persevere and challenge systemic biases.

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