She’s not put a foot wrong past one year. Be it Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Chennai Express or Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, she has gone from strength to strength and has delivered one blockbuster after another. She’s stood shoulder-to shoulder with her male counterparts, Ranbir Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan and Ranveer Singh in these films, carrying more than the share devoted to leading ladies and contributing immensely to their success. Is she the next female superstar?
On the personal front, well, having a RK tattoo on her back hasn’t prevented her from seeking new partners. Who says only boys can have all the fun! The rumours haven’t merited rejoinders. She’s happy to let people speculate and busy leading a fulfilled life on all fronts. The tags and the accolades don’t matter to her. In her heart, she remains a simple girl in love with life… and with movies… Excerpts from an interview with India’s current sweetheart, Deepika Padukone…
Having bagged most awards this season, would you say you’re at the peak of your career?
I still have the same approach to work as I had earlier. I just enjoy my films. Of course, when I hear or read good things about my work, I feel good. It has taken a lot of hard work to achieve all this. But you shouldn’t take your achievements too seriously. Do your work and move on!
Does the ‘superstar’ tag make you proud?
I don’t feel proud at all. Yes, it does feel good. But it also means I must focus more on my work.
What keeps you so grounded?
I’ve always believed that success is temporary. So enjoy it till it lasts. It’s me today; it will be someone else tomorrow. That’s how this business works. One needs to stay balanced. If you enjoy your work, the rest happens on its own.
Are you under pressure to select films more carefully now?
Absolutely not! I’ve always followed my instincts. I’ve worked with all directors, established and newcomers. In fact, I’ve worked more with newcomers. I’ve never chosen a project on the basis of the set-up. I’ve always looked at whether I connect with a story.
Talking about ‘heart’, is your heart with you right now?
You looked stunning in Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela. What’s the secret?
(Giggles) I guess it’s my state of mind. When the audience loves you, when the industry loves you, when critics praise your work, when the media writes and the industry believes that Deepika is number one, then of course you feel confident. It’s a great feeling when people call me by the names of the characters I’ve played – Veronica (Cocktail), Naina Talwar (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani) or Miniyamma (Chennai Express)!
Sanjay Leela Bhansali projected you very beautifully in Ram-Leela…
Every director has his own sense of aesthetics. Which director would want his heroine to appear unattractive? But each one has a different perspective. Some directors focus on the face; some on the heroine’s entirety. Sanjayji likes to show his heroines beautiful in her entirety.
It looked like you did a lot of prep for your character, Leela…
As actors we usually go to a set with some preparation. But with Sanjayji, I realised that the less you prepare the better it is. He’d tweak the dialogue a bit and do something new and exciting in the spur of the moment. With Sanjayji, you should go like a clean slate so that you can write the way he wants you to.
After six years in the business, your experience must have also helped…
Yes, today, I’m comfortable in front of the camera. I’m not scared of making mistakes. But whatever your experience, Sanjayji knows how to extract the best from his actors. Ranveer has his style and I have mine. As a director he handles his actors intelligently.
Initially, Kareena Kapoor Khan was to play Leela. Did this affect you in any way?
Not at all! When Sanjayji came to me, I was plain excited. I was ready to surrender to his vision. What happened earlier or later is none of my business. I guess I was destined to work with him.
What about Ranveer Singh? You two shared great chemistry in Ram-Leela…
It was great fun. He’s an extremely giving actor and highly energetic. He has the knack of keeping everyone happy. And he doesn’t need to do anything special to make you happy. That’s his personality. He connects easily with all. He makes every person feel special. He spreads happiness. I believe such people are God’s children. They spread joy. I believe he’s God’s child. Whatever happens in his life, good or bad, his attitude towards life remains unaltered.
Your relationship with Ranveer has been much speculated upon…
I’ve no issues about that. But yes sometimes, people say a bit too much. But it’s okay; it’s the nature of the business. Who am I to tell the media where to draw a line? If they have to report something, they will. But if you seek any clarifications from me, then I’ve never done that nor ever will.
It’s believed that while doing a reel love story, love enters your real life too…
(Laughs) You cannot deny the possibility. Some have even gone on to get married. But everyone has a different journey.
Did something similar happen with you during Ram-Leela?
Not yet. But if it happens, I’ll let people know because being in love is a very special feeling. I’m a romantic. I believe in marriage. Every girl dreams of finding the perfect match. I’ll tell everyone the day I find him. No one would have to ask. It’ll be visible to all.
Tell us something about Homi Adajania’s Finding Fanny Fernandez (FFF).
It’s a road trip film. I remember the first trip I took was after completing SSC. I went to Europe with my friends. That was also my first trip without my family.
So did you have more fun?
I’ve never been restricted by my parents from doing anything. I’ve never faced diktats like don’t go there or don’t wear this. Children who are controlled unnecessarily go berserk when they get freedom. I’m not saying that parents shouldn’t be strict but there should be a balance. Then your kids won’t take undue advantage of anything.
How was it working with Arjun Kapoor in FFF?
I’ve just shot one scene with him. He’s new and raw and that’s a good thing. Arjun is like an encyclopedia of films. Ask him the name of any movie, composer, singer or lyricist, he’ll know it all. He has a huge DVD collection. He’s a hardworking actor.
When was the last time you took off on a vacation?
Recently, I went to Europe with my family after three-four years.
What’s the big thing you are planning to buy now?
I already have a car and a small house. What else is there to buy? I stay alone so my maintenance is low.
How can a star be low maintenance?
(Laughs) Why not? What’s there in my life? Every day I go to work, come home, have dinner and go to sleep!
You must have huge savings then…
One must save. But saving is one thing and stinginess, another. n