/ Shining Bright From the Top of B-Town

Shining Bright From the Top of B-Town

May 15, 2013

Leading lady Deepika Padukone chats about her secrets to success, her iconic big break and dealing with the haters.

Daughter of the eminent world champion badminton player, Prakash Padukone (the first Indian to win the all-England championship) and elder sister of India’s golf aspirant, Anisha Padukone, performance was always in the cards for Deepika. Blessed with height, flawless skin and a body to boot, she uses her work ethic and charm to captivate audiences the world over, with her vivacious silver-screen presence.

Ashanti OMkar: Share some memories about your trajectory from top model to A-list actress.
Deepika Padukone: I remember doing the music video for Himesh Reshammiya for Naam Hai Tera. Farah Khan was casting for Om Shanti Om and she called me, said she’d seen the video and wanted to meet me in person. I met her at a dance rehearsal at Shree Satyam Hall in Juhu. She said she was writing a film. I was offered a lot of films before modelling, but chose not to take them up, as I wasn’t ready, but I had done a year and a half of modelling and felt ready.

AO: Tell us about the non-Hindi film you did before entering Bollywood?
DP: I did a film called Aishwarya after signing Om Shanti Om. Farah was going to take about a year to prepare and start on Om Shanti Om, and she suggested a film in South India to enable me to be more ready for Shah Rukh Khan. It was really fun to do a film in my third language, in Kannada and it did well also.

AO: Was acting always in the cards for you?
DP: I was into sports, but in the back of my mind, I was always working toward acting. When the time came, I spoke to my parents and they were always very supportive. I guess the fact that Dad’s such a big celebrity himself meant that there was a lot of expectation from us children. As I’m not from a film family and was never exposed to cinema and filmmaking growing up, I took acting lessons, but I really believe that the real learning happens on the film set.

AO: Did you anticipate such success from your very first cinematic outing?
DP: Initially, I was very nervous, but by the time we started filming, we had gone through lines, costumes and I was very prepared. The fact that I was never auditioned for Om Shanti Om gave me a lot of confidence in myself. I was a bit nervous at the first meeting with Shah Rukh, but then all settled. When I put my mind to something, I don’t let it go until it happens. My motto is to not take anything for granted. I believe in having faith in something.

AO: You’re accustomed to working with Bollywood’s biggest heroes, from day one, in fact, from SRK and Amitabh Bachchan, to superstar Rajinikanth. Who’s left?
DP: I’d love to work with Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Hrithik Roshan.

AO: Tell us about some experiences working with Rajinikanth, especially as the film is motion-capture 3D? Something very few Indian heroines have ventured into.
DP: The film is called Kochadaiyaan and it is a period-fantasy love story. The technique of motion capture took me a few days to understand. Until you start doing it and you being to see how it functions, it is a challenge. I’m extremely excited about how it will turn out and to see myself in 3D. Rajini Sir’s daughter, Soundarya, directed the film and she is very sweet and the fact that we’re all South Indian meant that we all connected over rasam (spicy consommé) and rice. I told Soundarya [to take me to] watch AR Rahman record, as it’s my first film with his music and I am a fan. Rajini Sir is so grounded, humble and down to earth. No words that I say will ever be enough to describe what a big star he is. He’s like a kid on set, so excited about what to do next.

AO: The much-anticipated Race 2 directed by Abbas-Mustan is out in January 2013, tell us about it.
DP: It’s the sequel to Race and an action-thriller and has been a lot of fun to shoot. It’s first time I’m directed by two people. Abbas-Mustan are so in sync and almost complete each other’s sentences and are always on the same page.

AO: You’re in the forthcoming Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, alongside your ex Ranbir Kapoor…
DP: It is produced by Karan Johar and directed by Ayan Mukerji who directed Wake Up Sid. It’s a love story and I play the part of Naina, opposite Ranbir. We’ve shot a big schedule in Manali and another in Rajasthan and it’s very early to speak about it, as it’s not out till Spring 2013.

AO: Who has continuously inspired you to keep working hard and stay in the game?
DP: Myself – no one can tell me to work hard, it has to come from myself and I must want it enough to come from within.

AO: You’re incredibly busy – do you ever find time to relax?
DP: I choose not to. Right now, definitely not. I have simultaneous releases and more soon after. These are my years and I want to make the most of them. I enjoy the travelling and hectic schedules, which come with being in the industry. I miss the family, but they have been so supportive and take time out to spend with me.

AO: What does it take to own the famous Deepika Padukone smokin’-hot body?
DP: (Laughs) It’s a part of my lifestyle. Being fit and healthy are most important to me, and in the process, when my body is in great shape, I feel good. I focus on being healthy with my diet and exercise routines and weave in fitness I can cope with. I put in as much time as I can and try and workout as much as possible – it also boils down to the quality of work and I do Pilates and functional training together. I like physical things like long walks, going to the gym, swimming and if on a shooting schedule, I [participate] in sports like swimming, cricket and football.

AO: Your online following is massive, but as with all famous people, one has to deal with the “haters.” What is your survival mechanism?
DP: I guess the only thing I tell myself that one day the haters will start loving me if I work hard. I’ve always believed that it’s about focusing on work, being humble, keeping your head down and any success that comes, will happen on its own.



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