Balan lives with her parents in Khar, a suburban neighbourhood in Mumbai. She is trained in carnatic music and has briefly studied the dance forms of Bharatnatyam and Kathak. Regarding her religious affiliations, Balan said, "I am a person with a lot of faith and I have conversations all the time but I am not so religious in the conventional, organised sense". She practices vegetarianism and was listed as "India's hottest vegetarian" in a poll conducted by PETA in 2011. Her weight fluctuations over the years have been the subject of substantial media coverage in India.
The mass media has often speculated about a romantic relationship between Balan and her co-actors, but she has strongly denied these reports. In 2009, Balan was involved in a controversy when she mentioned a previous relationship in which "caustic remarks" were made at her due to her weight. She said, "If someone who matters to you takes you down, it can break you. That someone whose approval mattered to me started to constantly find faults with me. At that point of time, it was important to walk away from that relationship." Though she refused to name the person, tabloid reports suggested that she was referring to Shahid Kapoor (her co-star in Kismat Konnection). Kapoor, however, denied the allegations. During an interview in May 2012, Balan announced that she was dating Siddharth Roy Kapur, the CEO of UTV Motion Pictures. Balan and Kapur are going to get married on 14 December 2012.
Besides acting in film, Balan is a social activist. In March 2011, Balan endorsed World Wildlife Fund's Earth Hour campaign in India. She campaigned for the cause of nutrition in India for CINI (Child in Need Institute), a non-profit organisation based in Kolkata. In September 2012, Balan visited a village in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, where she participated in a campaign to promote the cause of women empowerment and children's education. For her contribution in the field of women empowerment, Balan was awarded with The Prabha Khaitan Puraskar 2012 by the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce, and emerged as the youngest recipient of the award. Balan has also been appointed by the Government of India as their brand ambassador in the drive to improve the country's sanitary condition.
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