Date of Birth of Vidya Balan was on 1 January 1978 in Ottapalam, a town in the Palakkad District of Kerala, to P. R. Balan, currently the Executive Vice-President of Digicable, and Saraswathy Balan, a homemaker. According to Balan, they speak a mix of Tamil and Malayalam at home; she is also well versed in Hindi, Marathi, English and Bengali. Her elder sister, Priya Balan, works in the field of advertising.
Balan grew up in the suburban neighbourhood of Chembur, Mumbai and was schooled at St. Anthony Girls' High School. From a young age she aspired to a career in film and was inspired by the work of actors Shabana Azmi and Madhuri Dixit.At the age of sixteen, she starred in the first season of Ekta Kapoor's sitcom Hum Paanch as Radhika, a bespectacled teenager. Following the success of the show, Balan refused director Anurag Basu's offer to star in a television soap opera, as she wanted to concentrate on a film career. Her parents were supportive of her decision but encouraged her to complete her education first, so she attended St. Xavier's College to pursue a bachelor's degree in sociology and later earned a master's degree from the University of Mumbai.