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Spotlight > Deepika Padukone
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Dreams of a diva

She’s simply gorgeous and the ruling queen of the marquee. And, the most dazzling face on the ramp and of it too. The latest rage in B’Town, Deepika Padukone is sitting pretty on the top slot with back to back hits. Cinema, an unknown terrain for this sporty lass, was conquered with sheer hard work and amazing dedication. Lubna Parveen, in a spirited conversation with this stunning diva on life, movies, friends, success and her version of a dream wedding.
The twinkle in her eye is unmistakable. It speaks volumes of the good time she’s having in the industry. Actress Deepika Padukone’s tryst with filmdom has been nothing short of a dream run, a perfect Bollywood scrip in itself – the story of a girl from a sports background who went on to become the queen of a billion hearts. She’s brimming with confidence and well, it shows. She has finally perfected the art of navigating through the extremely tricky labyrinths of showbiz.

After some moments of girly banter, we get serious. Deepika muses on the most dramatic twist of her life. It’s yet another fairytale but set in the backdrop of the fast paced, information age, with rumour mills running over time, the phenomenon called publicity and a need to be the best to hold on to the numero uno slot. Deepika Padukone, who was once-upon-a-time a professional badminton player, is now the most sought after princess of the silver screen. And, narrating her stupendous saga is like an affirmation that in reality, fairytales can come true.

“I was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, but after a year, my parents moved back to India.”

Though Deepika was born in Denmark, she returned to India when she was barely one year old. The daughter of ace badminton player, Prakash Padukone and Ujjala Padukone, tells us, “I was born in Copenhagen Denmark, because my parents lived there for six years after they got married. But, I was there only for a year. I was born in 1986, and we moved back to Bangalore in 1987.”

“I did my schooling at Sophia’s High School and College from Mount Carmel Junior College in Bangalore.”

Back from Denmark, Deepika was in Bangalore, where she was raised in Benson Town. “I went to Sophia’s High School from nursery to tenth standard and did two years of my college, eleventh and twelfth, from Mount Carmel Junior College. As both my School and college were all girls’ institutions, I never had a chance to be popular among boys. And, after completing my education, I started my modeling career.”

"My dad always taught me never to let success or failure affect me."

A picture of poise, stardom sits easy on the 25-year-old actress who seems neither overcome nor intimidated by it. She puts this down to her upbringing. "It’s a great feeling to be the daughter of a legendary Badminton player. And for me, at the end of the day, he is my father. I don’t consider him a star at home.

At home, he is just my dad. And, my dad always taught me never to let success or failure affect me. What I like the most about him is that in spite of achieving so much fame and success, he is so humble and grounded. It’s definitely something about him which we all can learn from.”

“Being an elder sister, I am extremely possessive about Anisha.”

Fame doesn’t hamper Deepika’s immediacy with Anisha, her little sister. She says, “I think that’s because there is a five year age difference between the two of us. I am very, very possessive about my little sister and I think that today, even though she is just nineteen, I still feel that we have the potential to be friends with each other. But, I think I’ve always played the role of the elder sister, being possessive and protective of her, and will always be that way.”

As a sibling, Anisha shares a lot of her personal space when it comes to the proximity between the sisters. “Anisha is very encouraging even as a younger sister. A quiet person though, at the same time she is very smart and wants to take up golf professionally. She is also a very caring sister and a sensitive child. Both of us are focused on our careers, as she has always been interested in sports and I was always into modeling and now, acting. I feel that we see ourselves as career oriented women. That’s the way our parents have brought us up and that’s what most parents do for their children these days.”

“Srila, Hiteshi, Divya and Sneha are a few of my childhood friends, whom I am close to even today.”

She may seem reticent, but Deepika Padukone admits that she's affable with everyone, including friends and even co-actors. “I don’t have a large group of friends but I do have a few childhood buddies, who I am very close to even today. These are friends I have for life. We may not talk everyday but we do catch up or talk with each other and it feels like we’ve just met yesterday. Two of my friends are here while the other two are abroad. All of us are pretty much of the same age and we used to stay in the same environment and enjoyed each other’s company. We used to even catch up after school, do our homework and also play together in the evenings and do things like that. Friendship is of great importance to me and I value my friends a lot. Even now, I always make it a point to visit my hometown Bangalore, once in every two three months.”

“I make sure I visit my grandparents and relatives in Bangalore.”

Sashaying through the fond memories of her past, Deepika makes sure to take a break from her busy schedule to meet up with her close knit family. “When I have a few a days to myself, I usually spend time at home in Bangalore. Then, there are a few restaurants which I go to every time I go there. There’s a place called CPR, where you get amazing dosas. And, there’s a place called Funny, where you get real tasty continental food. I also make sure I visit my grandparents and my relatives there. My mama knows all my favorite foods and whenever she knows I am coming over, she plans out the menu in advance and makes sure to prepare whatever I like.”

“I love baking and making upma as I am really fond of eating.”

Deepika reveals that she can be skilful even in the kitchen. “When my parents used to come back from work, I used to make brownies for them. I love baking and making upma as I am really fond of eating. Though I like home- cooked food, I don’t mind ordering outside or eating unit food on the movie sets. My meal comprises of proper dal, chawal, roti and sabzi. I also love to eat dosa, idli and other kinds of southie preparations, and I really enjoy eating them.”

“I knew that I’d get a good break and be a part of Hindi cinema. I knew pretty early, actually, I think in fourth or fifth standard.”

She muses, while trying to demystify her success. “Somewhere, I always knew that I want to be a part of the film industry. And even though I didn’t consciously work it initially, I knew that at some point it would come my way. I knew that I’d get a good break and be a part of Hindi cinema. I knew it pretty early, actually, I think in fourth or fifth standard! Though I did start playing professional badminton, I knew that at some point, I would give it up and start modeling, and after modeling for a few years, I knew where I was heading.”

“I always wanted to be a model and actor.”

Deepika goes on to explain how modeling and then gradually, films happened. “I always wanted to be a model and actor. So after completing my twelfth standard, I got my portfolio clicked and circulated it. And then, one by one, offers started pouring in. And two years after modeling, I got Himesh Reshamiya’s music video, called Naam Hai Tera Tera. Farah Khan was looking for a new face at that point of time, and so when she saw my music album, she decided to cast me in Om Shanti Om.

“I have been interested in interior designing but never really worked towards it.”

Giving us a sneak peak on her proclivity about Interior decoration, Deepika discloses that apparently films are not the end for her. “I always knew that films would be what I would end up doing professionally. But one should also have an option, keeping in mind, what if; things don’t go your way. I have also been interested in interior designing but never really worked towards it to take it up seriously. I am trying to express my ideas in interior design, in the new house that I’ve bought recently. I think I have my heart and soul in the film industry.”

“Once in a few weeks I take off from work and relax for a day.”

Despite her hectic schedule, Deepika always gets her ‘me- time’. “Once in a while, I try and take off from work and plan a holiday. Or, it’s just that I find time for myself when my shoot gets cancelled suddenly. And, I also take time for my self early mornings, before I start off for work and also after coming back home. I relax and detox with a good meal of course, and spend some time alone, reading the papers. I usually don’t find time unwind everyday. But yes, once in a few weeks, I take off from work and relax for a day.”

“I am very shy and reserved. I think before I speak. Now, I think I have opened up a lot more.”

Deepika has described herself as shy and reserved. Some would describe her as someone who is just too smart to say anything wrong; who watches every word. And, when asked which version of it is true, she humbly says, “I know the sort of stuff people call me. I know people think that I’m very politically correct, but actually, I am like that as a person. I am very shy and reserved. I think before I speak. And, while I do have my moments when I am spontaneous sometimes, even that is usually not out of context. Now, I think I have opened up a lot more, but by nature, I am a very quiet person. And, I think that’s the quality I get from my dad. Once I open up, I can go on and keep friends for life.”

“I prefer taking a walk or being outdoors and also do yoga, aerobics and dance”.

“I am not a fitness freak, but I do try out different ways of being fit and remain healthy at the same time. I do not follow any fitness regime in particular. I don’t believe in starving myself, so I prefer taking a walk or being outdoors and also do yoga, aerobics and dance. And when Iam not shooting, the first ting I do is catch up with some good sleep. And then, sort out my to-do things if at all I have any. Then I just try to relax at my home or spa, spend some time with family and have a good meal.”

“Om Shanti Om was a great debut and I got to learn a lot from SRK and Farah.”

Deepika’s career had a flying start with Om Shanti Om before which she learnt a lot about acting from Anupam Kher’s Acting School. “Om Shanti Om was a great debut and I got to learn a lot from SRK and Farah. It was a fantastic start,” she gushes.
After a very successful debut and a dance number in Billu, again with SRK, she has also worked with stellar stars like Akshay Kumar, Ranbir Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Farhan Akhtar, Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh, Arjun Rampal, Imran Khan and lately with Abhishek Bachhan. Deepika is no stranger to multi-heroine projects with Bachna Ae Haseeno and Houseful.

“When it happened, it was a nice feeling. It’s ‘wow’, and I’ve worked for it.”

Success wasn’t a shock to her as she explains that it wasn’t so unreal to be true. She adds, “When I want something, I work for it, and I knew I could.” In any case, she believes never to get overjoyed by success, and never let failure put her in depression. “Always understand what has happened, and move on! I remember that when I returned from the London Premiere of Om Shanti Om, after its release, I was flounced by a lot of fans at the airport, for my autograph. That’s when I felt like a celebrity for the first time.”

“I don't want to be typecast as a heroine who only does a certain kind of cinema, which is why I experiment with the type of films.”

Ruminating about her experience in the movies, Break Ke Baad and Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se, Deepika says, “Break Ke Baad was a young romantic comedy which is a coming-of-age drama about what happens once a relationship ends. In that, I played the character of Aaliya, an actress in the movie. And Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se was a period film, about a real life incident with the Chittagong uprising issue in it. I play a very different de-glam role of Kalpana. Shifting roles between both the movies was not so challenging to me, as I switch on and off easily when it comes to acting. It came pretty naturally to me and I didn’t have to do much. I think when one has good directors, things become much easier for actors like me. Moreover, I don't want to be typecast as a heroine who only does a certain kind of cinema, which is why I experiment with the type of films that I do. But yes, I won't deny that romantic love stories or romantic comedies are what I enjoy doing the most, because those are the kind of films that I like watching as audience.”Deepika feels closest to Meera’s character from her movie Love Aaj Kal.

“At the end of the day, they are just rumors. There’s nothing really to react”.

Dealing with recurrent rumors, she sometimes feels the need to clarify and sometimes, she doesn’t. She gets annoyed by the false stories. She assertively adds, “I’ve always been honest about the people in my life. Half of the stories that come out are untrue. And at the end of the day, they are just rumors. There is nothing really to react to as long as my family and I know what the truth is.”

“I give my hundred percent in a relationship.”

Diving deep into the conversation, we discover that Deepika is crammed with innocence as she openly admits that she is a very romantic person when it comes to relationships and even, very impractical about it. “I am not at all practical, when it comes to relationships and I don’t think twice about it. I follow my heart and it’s a typical personality trait about me. I give my hundred percent in a relationship.”About the kind of man she thinks is perfect for her, she clearly states, “Friendship is really important for me to bond with someone. And before anything else, it’s the trust between each other and the compatibility that actually matters. Right now, the priority is my career, but yes when I get married, I will definitely make sure I have enough time for my family and children. I don’t want to be like someone who is married but doesn’t have time for family and children.”

“I think the event itself is a lot more special than how grand it is.”

Frivolous Deepika, on a frisky note tries to bounce off what we were really fixated to know – her dream wedding. To this she politely says,” I love Indian weddings that are a true picture of grandiose, marvel, splendor and flamboyance, but for me, as long as friends and relatives are around, it doesn’t really matter, how big or grand my wedding is. I think the event itself is a lot more special than how grand it is. The aspect of Indian weddings that excite me the most is the time when vows are exchanged. If you understand the meaning of the ritual, the seven vows that the bride and groom exchange, I think it’s wonderful. Last year I attended my cousin’s wedding, which was an Arya Samaaj wedding. It was the most memorable wedding that I’ve ever attended, mainly because I got to meet a lot of my cousins and other relatives from all over the world, and also because it is the first wedding in the family.”

“My own style is my fashion trend.”

Deepika is not a fashion victim. "I don't spend a fortune on dresses or bags because I have to run my home and pay my bills," explains Deepika, though she does admit to nursing a fetish for shoes. “My own style is my fashion trend. Comfort is my style mantra for dressing.” She adds, “The ever green, actor Rekha and Audrey Hepburn have been my style icons.”

“Yes, I am doing Race 2, though I cannot confirm about Krrishh Sequel.”

Revealing about her future projects, Deepika divulges, “I have just started working on a new film called Desi Boyz. It's with John Abraham and Akshay Kumar. I have even started with the Mumbai schedule already, and will probably be shooting in London for a month in February.” She also confirms that she is a part of the much talked about Race 2, though she is unsure of Krrishh sequel.

In conclusion, Deepika adds, “I do not make any New Year resolutions and I have not planned anything for my birthday this month. I normally like to spend time with friends and family. I don’t wait for the New Year to make resolutions, when I decide to do something; I do it, then and there.”

Rapid Fire
1. Birthday- 5th January
2. Most adorable man- My father
3. Biggest fear- Losing someone dear
4. My idiosyncrasy- I carry my medial pouch in my handbag.
5. Extravagant or not – Not at all
6. Favorite food- South Indian
7. Romantic dream destination- South of France
8. Most memorable dinner – At Mevula’ in South Africa
9. Must haves in my handbag- Mobile, house keys, wallet and chocolates, of course!

Style File
1. Favorite designer label – Rohit Bal, Tarun Tahiliani, Sabyasachi
2. Favorite fashion photographer – Prasad Naik
3. Favorite outfit – Saree
4. First car – Hyundai Accent
5. Music I love – Hip Hop and R’n’B
6. Fetish for – Sports and Shoes
7. Colors I love – Neutral shades
8. Closest person – Both my mom and dad
9. Deepika in a word- Unpredictable
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