Vidya Balan was born on January 1, 1979 in Kerala. Her father, P R Balan, is the President of ETC Channel while her mother is a home maker. She has an older sister named Priya.
Vidya is a Tamil Iyer who grew up in Mumbai. She studied in St Xavier’s College and went on do get a degree in Sociology from the University of Mumbai. She speaks 5 Indian languages: Tamil, English, Hindi, Malayalam and Bengali.
Vidya started her acting career in Malayalam film industry. Her first film was Chakram where she acted opposite Mohanlal. However, the film was not completed. She then started modeling. She won her first modeling contract in 1998 when she did an advertisement for Surf Excel. She went on to model in over 25 television advertisements.
After that, Vidya started acting in music videos for a short while. She did music videos for Euphoria, Shubha Mudgal and Pankaj Udhas. She also acted in Hindi soap operas like Hanste Khelte and Hum Paanch. She acted in a Bengali film entitled Bhaalo Theko opposite the Bengali actor Joy Sengupta for which she won the Best Actress Anand Lok Puraskar Award in Kolkata. She was also seen in the advertisement for Raza.com which was aired internationally.
In 2005, Vidya made her debut in Bollywood with the film Parineeta. The film was directed by Pradeep Sarkar. Vidya acted in this film alongside Sanjay Dutt and Saif Ali Khan. Vidya won accolades for her performance in Parineeta. She won the Filmfare Best Debut Award and the International Indian Film Academy Award for the Best Female Debut. This started a host of film offers coming her way. In 2006, Vidya paired up with Sanjay Dutt to act in the hit film Lage Raho Munna Bhai.
Vidya has a number of Bollywood films that are slated either for release this year or next year. Ek Lavya: The Royal Guard and Salaam E Ishq: A Tribute to Love are in post production and will be released shortly. She is currently shooting for Guru and Hey Baby. It was announced that Vidya would be acting in Krrish 2 and Suryamukhi.
Vidya enjoys listening to Indian classical music. Her favorite are Shiv Kumar Sharma, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Shubha Mudgal and Kishori Amonkar. Vidya is also involved in charity work related to AIDS. She is associated with AmFar (Americans for AIDS Research) and Hale House which is a home for children born HIV positive and those having drug addiction.