2009 marked the beginning of the most successful period in Balan's career as she portrayed five back-to-back roles to wide critical acclaim in Paa (2009), Ishqiya (2010), No One Killed Jessica (2011), The Dirty Picture (2011) and Kahaani (2012). These roles have further established her as one of the leading contemporary actresses of Hindi cinema and earned her several major awards. Balan has received one National Film Award for Best Actress, four Filmfare Awards, including two for Best Actress and one for Best Actress - Critics, as well as three consecutive Screen Awards for Best Actress.
Vidya Balan was born in India in Ottapalam, Palakkad District, Kerala, to P. R. Balan (Vice President of ETC Channel) and Saraswathy Balan, a housewife mother in a Tamil speaking family. According to Balan, they speak at home "a mix of Tamil and Malayalam", but she is also well versed in Hindi, Marathi, English and Bengali.
She did her schooling at St. Anthony Girls' High School, Chembur, Mumbai, and later attended St. Xavier's College where she majored in Sociology. She went on to study MA at the University of Mumbai, when she received her first film offer.