Deepika Padukone The Shining Star
Femina|January 2021
She has seen the highs and lows, and has pulled herself up like a phoenix from her lows. As the country cheers one of its favourite actors on, the svelte Deepika Padukone talks to Ruchika Mehta on learning, loving, and looking beyond
Ruchika Mehta

Langorous legs, a sinuously sexy smile, an athletic body that is beyond hour-glass perfect… Add to that a calm, pure soul, a deep intellect, and eyes that seek honesty in all it purviews… Deepika Padukone is not just a superstar courtesy her hits, but in the real sense a star who crosses the cinema galaxy once in a very rare, blue moon.

Deepika was a winner the moment she was discovered and catapulted onto the ramp. Once there, the world of fashion marvelled at her persona that sparkled like a million bulbs coming alive. She stayed there for a very short, eventful time, until, lo and behold, she was hand-picked to play a role opposite Shah Rukh Khan. She arrived on the Bollywood scene like the veritable icing on the cake, acting opposite a superstar whom she matched perfectly, frame by scintillating frame. The rest, as they say, is history.

In her acting career, Deepika has pushed her emoting, expressing prowess to new boundaries with each release. Versatility is the cornerstone of her work trajectory. Yes, she has done the ‘run around the trees’ routine for commercial success, however, with that stereotype has simultaneously emerged Deepika, the woman with a voice. For every Chennai Express there has been a Chhapaak, a Piku or a Housefull. Time and again, she has been sought out to play roles of historically-powerful women. Padmavati, the gutsy Maharani, Mastani who helped Bajirao in his warfare, and Leela in Ram-Leela, in which love triumphs even in death. Deepika has done justice to all these roles.

It is in these movies that also emerges the sheer joie and chemistry shared by her and her now husband, Ranveer Singh. Bollywood’s Couple No. 1, DeepikaRanveer are quite the duo. For every deep emotion in Deepika, there is a crazy Ranveer move; for each of her pensive thoughts, there is a bid to sweep her off her feet with his wit. For every low that Deepika feels, there is a high that Ranveer peps her up with. Yes, for Deepika—shy, reticent, and also deep—Ranveer is like an adrenaline rush.

The world marvelled at the way she admitted to fighting depression. It was like a superstar allowing you to gaze through her gilded armour. It made headlines and gave so much hope to many young, isolated souls floating silently through life saddled with the same predicament of the mind. The daughter of Prakash Padukone, India’s biggest badminton star, Deepika shows guts. She stands up for what she believes in.

A muse, a voice, a powerful woman, self-made and proud to have stormed the bastion of an alleged parochial industry, Deepika sparkles down to her soul and is on her way to become India’s most legendary star. This year will be special for her in so many ways with her working simultaneously in five big movies. For her, even the sky does not seem the limit.

ON BEING A SUPERSTAR

“Honestly, I don’t consider myself a superstar; I don’t feel like one. I don’t feel any different from anyone else. In my mind, I feel like any other girl who has been fortunate enough to have the love and support of her family to be able to do the things that she loves doing, and something that she always wanted to do. Along the way, I’ve had opportunities and I’ve worked hard and made sacrifices, and I am where I am. So, I don’t and can’t view myself as anything but a regular girl. That is probably a question maybe my parents or someone in my family or my friends would be able to answer better. I now look back at life with gratitude. I’d say the only difference is I was 16 then and I am 35 now, but I still wake up wanting to make my parents proud, wanting to achieve my personal and professional goals with that same passion and enthusiasm.”

ON REALISING SHE WANTED TO BE AN ACTOR

Her dad, Prakash Padukone, was a badminton champion, and she also played the sport early in her years. While playing badminton for her would have been an obvious choice, she opted to be an actor. “I was playing professional badminton in school until I was 16, and even represented the state. But then I think as you start getting into high school, you start reflecting on what you want to do with your life and that is when I started realising that sports was not something wanted to pursue for the rest of my life. At that point, I also had enough exposure to other curricular activities like modelling, dancing, music in our school, and knew I wanted to be in the arts. When I took a break from badminton to prepare for my board exams, it was a good transition period. I don’t think my parents were shocked or surprised either, because, right from childhood, they had seen where my interest was and had been supportive.”

ON THE NATURAL TRANSITION

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