“I WANT TO BE ABLE TO SLEEP PEACEFULLY AT NIGHT, EVERY NIGHT.” What gives Deepika Padukone the satisfaction of a day well spent?
It’s not the fact that she is the highest-paid female actor in Indian cinema; that she was on TIME magazine’s list of 100 most influential people, along with Rihanna and Meghan Markle; that she’s the country’s second most popular celebrity endorser; or that she communicates daily with 38.9 million followers on Instagram. It should be enough—but it isn’t. Because what Deepika Padukone wants most is to change the world. “I’m at a place today where I want to do things that are meaningful. If I’m not creating impact then what am I doing?”
She doesn’t have to worry about that, though. Through honest and vulnerable conversations—and The Live Love Laugh Foundation she set up—she’s slowly removing the stigma attached to mental illness in India. (In fact, we meet in Delhi on the eve of the first in an annual lectures series, with Dr Siddhartha Mukherjee, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer). And as a producer now, she’s choosing to tell stories that matter—her upcoming maiden film Chhapaak, directed by Meghna Gulzar, is based on the acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal.
Deepika has always held herself with poise. But what emerges now is also confidence, a keen sense of self-awareness. And when she speaks, it’s with purpose as much as heart and authenticity.