"I feel protected around Shah Rukh Khan"- Deepika Padukone
Deepika Padukone is zooming fast on the Success Express. Filmfare meets showbiz's Midas girl
It's the best time to be Deepika Padukone, right now. She's been notching up hits as if she were picking flowers in a garden. Bade aram se, as Saif Ali Khan would say. It started with Cocktail last year, continued with Race 2, she then topped it up with the superhit Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (YJHD). And just when you thought it couldn't get better, Chennai Express came hurtling down breaking all box-office records. The story isn't over yet. She still has Sanjay Leela Bhansali's much talked about Ram Leela later in the year. Polls suggest it's the most awaited movie of the year. News comes in that she's been pencilled in by Imtiaz Ali for his next, by Farah Khan for Happy New Year and Homi Adajania for Finding Fanny. Count that in her resume and you know why her scrips have shot through the roof.
So it's been decreed that she can open a movie. Trade pundits have already anointed her as the Heroine No.1. Her supporters are doing the victory lap. In short, everyone loves her, wants her and can't get enough of her. Not just that, she's even learnt how to galvanise the silver screen. Yes, her acting credentials come with an approval stamp from the critics. And that's what makes her success even sweeter. As much as she's enjoying her success, Deepika would like to play down the whole euphoria surrounding her. Her focus is still her work.
On the personal front, things don't seem as clear however. Maybe because that's the way she wants it. Her reticence to talk about her relationship with Ranveer Singh has left the field open to endless speculation. Despite strong rumours about them being together, she insists she isn't ready for a relationship just as yet. Her friendship with Ranbir Kapoor has come under the scanner too. At her high rise apartment, Deepika Padukone, in an off white salwar kameez, is beaming away, tackling my questions. She looks luminous. There's a softness about her, a sense of infinite vulnerability. And yet there's a toughness somewhere that has helped her navigate the tough terrains of showbiz, singlehandedly. Whatever it is, Deepika Padukone is on a roll. And looks like it will be a while before the momentum runs its course. On that note, I throw my first query at her:
Q. Chennai Express has taken a massive opening. It's another feather in your cap.
I hope so. As we speak, it has taken a record breaking opening. I hope it does well. It's a special film for me. It's more special because of Shah Rukh (Khan).
Q. This is your second film with Shah Rukh. What was different this time around?
Q. It's been barely six years since you've been in the industry and already you are being touted as the next No.1. How do you react to that?
It's nice to hear these things; it feels great to read or to be asked about it. Sometimes,I get emotional too. I feel I'm getting too much too soon.I feel overwhelmed when I get so much love. Today when I step out, I feel a lot of love-like energy come towards me. And that's a great space to be in. It's a nice feeling.
Q. In retrospect, was it a tough going or a cakewalk?
It wasn't easy at all. I hit a rough patch post OSO. That film gave me so much. Farah Khan and Shah Rukh presented me beautifully and gave me an amazing launch. After that I was on my own. I didn't come from a film family nor did I belong to the city. So I had to start from scratch. I didn't know anything about films. TodayI still don't know much about cinema. I haven't grown up watching movies. WhenI hang out with people from the industry, they're always talking films and I feel out of place. But I was ready to work hard. I was ready to surrender to a film. That's all I had to offer to a filmmaker. So my journey, on many levels, is a learning experience. It was a struggle. From understanding the industry, understanding people and relationships, understanding what kind of films I wanted to do, setting myself up in a new city there were too many things. Today I have a little more clarity. I'm comfortable with the person I am with all my flaws. I went through a low phase in my career when my films were not doing well. People wrote me off. Somewhere that influenced me in a positive way. I'm glad that in that phase I didn't go into a shell. I'm glad I didn't bog myself down with all the things that were being said about me. I'm glad I used that as an opportunity to work on myself and be slightly better at what I'm doing.
Q. What are the changes you see in yourself?
I'm a lot more open today about making mistakes, trying out new things. Initially, I was too guarded. I was too worried about doing the right things or doing things in a way one was expected to do. Today I don't worry about the end result. You have to have your own journey. I'm okay about making a fool of myself and seeing where it goes. Some things will work, some won't. And I'm okay with that.
Q. What's the taste of success like?
I don't know if this is success. What I can sense is that there's a lot of positivity around me. There's a lot of love around me. I believe in energies. I feel there's a lot of positive energy around me. If this is what success is then it's a great feeling.
Q. Any tips on how to survive and succeed in this industry?
Never lose focus of what you want for yourself. People will try and pull you down. There might be things in your life, which will deter your confidence. There might be days when you want to break down; there could be days when you feel like giving up. It's extremely important to be emotionally strong and be focussed. For someone who's new to the industry, you must be sure of what you want from yourself. Do it your own way. And don't be afraid of making mistakes.
Q. Today people are looking beyond your beautiful face and acknowledging you as an actress. Have you proved a point to your naysayers?
Not to people but definitely to myself. I've never tried to prove anything to anyone. I remember being written off by this columnist. She wrote off four-five of us who'd started out at the same time. Of course, it was not a nice thing for us to read at that time. We were starting a new chapter in our lives. While the world was praising me, here was this one person who had written me off. She wrote off my appearance also. Maybe somewhere that stayed with me. My parents were really upset. Especially my mother. I remember highlighting it with an orange marker and putting it up on my board. Maybe somewhere that helped. Maybe it helped because I was a sportsperson. Also my parents have been strong for me when I wasn't strong for myself. Of course, there were days when I felt like breaking down, giving up. But in the end it's always about the larger picture and keeping the focus. So, it wasn't about proving a point to anyone else, it was about proving a point to myself. Maybe it was about timing. Maybe people wrote me off too soon. Maybe people should have waited and given me an opportunity. You need the right opportunity. Shah Rukh Khan and Farah Khan spotted something in me way before anyone else did. For them to have taken such a big chance on me, it was a huge film... They never screen tested me. Recently, Shah Rukh said in an interview that the heroine is important in a film. He credits the success of OSO maybe to the freshness that I brought to the film. That gave me confidence. Of course, who doesn't look for validation. Unfortunately, it's not a test where you get tangible marks. It's all based on feeling.
Q. Do you believe you've left your contemporaries far behind?
I know you are not going to believe me. But I don't think like that. I don't consider where I am versus where other people are. I don't know what film someone else is doing, how successful someone else's film is. As clichd as it sounds, I'm only trying to better my own work. Especially with the way the year has panned out beginning with Cocktail. I had to make sure that Race 2 did better than Cocktail, YJHD did better than Race 2 and now Chennai Express does better than all the other movies.
Q. You recently mentioned that equations change with success...
They do... Some new ones spring up, some drift away. It brings some people closer and it takes away some. Some people stand by you, while some let you down.
Q. Are you more capable of looking through people now?
Q. Have you been let down?
Yes, I have. I have judged wrongly. But at least I know it was my own judgment. Again I will never judge a person based on what someone else thinks of him. I will do that based on my own experiences and not based on what people have told me.
Q. You've signed Farah Khan's Happy New Year opposite Shah Rukh Khan. Has life come full circle?
Yes it has. I always feel indebted to them. They have given me so much. It's such an emotional experience when I meet Shah Rukh and Farah. I feel secure. Whenever I'm around Shah Rukh, like I was during the promotion of Chennai Express, I felt so protected. I felt I didn't have to worry about anything.
Q. Is it because of the goodwill you've earned that every filmmaker/co-star who has worked with you - SRK, Farah, Imtiaz Ali, Homi Adajania, Ranbir Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan - wants to work with you again ?
While I do appreciate that people think that I'm a good person, I'd like to be remembered for being a nice human being. I'd also like to believe that people want to team up with me again because of what I bring to a film. Apart from just being a good person. Of course, you have to make the journey enjoyable for them just as they have made it for me.
Q. People have dubbed you and Ranbir Kapoor as the couple of the decade on screen.
It's always nice to have that one screen jodi that the audience looks forward to. I'm glad that Ranbir and I have formed that. I guess it's also the way our characters were written and what the film did for us. And what also helped was the way Ayan (Mukerji), who's a dear friend, directed the film. He brought out the best in us. I'm glad I have that equation with Ranbir. He's someone I trust my life with.
Q. Is it possible to be friends with your ex. Does the past not come rushing back when you're with him?
Not in our case. I don't know how it's for other people, whether they can be friends or can't be. But we are. We've not consciously worked for it to be the way it is today. But I'm glad we're in a comfortable zone today where the world is giving us so much love and look forward to seeing us together. We're so comfortable that people don't think twice before casting us. Some equations are just meant to be. It's special in a way that no one will ever understand.
Q. Rumours insist that there's more to your relationship with Ranbir than just being friends.
I believe we should respect whatever space we are in right now. It does get uncomfortable when too many questions are asked. Like I said there's an equation we share which people might or might not understand. There's a comfort, there's a closeness. It's convenient and easy for people to round it up and say there's more to our equation.
Q. There's talk that he'll come back to you. You think so?
The space that we are in, it can't get more beautiful than it already is. And I wouldn't ever want to lose what we have today. It's a nice space. I believe it should just be the way it is.
Q. Do you wish things were different between you and Ranbir today?
Like I said, I really value and respect the space we are in today. Professionally and personally.
Q. Okay. Let's talk about Ram Leela. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is known to be a taskmaster. We believe he's been tough on you.
Working with Sanjay has been a liberating experience. He spoils his actors. He gives his actors whatever they want. You want to rehearse for three hours before shooting, okay. You don't feel like shooting even that's okay. He pads you up so much. As a director he gives you so much, whether it's time, whether it's space. He makes you feel like you're the best actor there could ever be. He understands his actors thoroughly. He will find logic in what an actor wants to do. Nothing is wrong. He will never write off anything you want to do or say. He will try and accommodate it. Working with him is like creating art, a painting. He lives and breathes cinema. He lives and breathes on the film set.
Q. Coming to Ranveer Singh. You two seem to be the hot couple on the block right now. There have been too many speculations.
People are going to, people would like to and people are more than welcome to speculate about Ranveer and me. But there's too much goodness around me to worry about these speculations.
Q. How would you rate him as a co-star?
Too giving, very positive and very entertaining. He's also extremely sensitive. He puts on this tough exterior, shows his fun side, quirky side all the time. He's all that. But beyond it, he's so sensitive to the energies of people. To what people say. That's such a wonderful quality for a man to have, when everyone else is trying to be manly, tough and all of that. It's so nice to meet someone who's so real and so giving and so uninhibited. What you see is what you get with him.
Q. Is it because of your past that you've now decided not to talk about your relationships?
It's not about learning a lesson. It's got nothing to do with the past. It's about me not being ready for a relationship. So there's nothing really to talk about. I'm emotionally and mentally not ready to invest in a relationship right now.
Q. If you were in a lift with Ranbir and Ranveer Singh together, what would you do?
Q. Who do you think will win?
Tough. They are both superb dancers.
Q. Okay. If you were in a lift with Anushka Sharma and Katrina Kaif?
Play house house. (Laughs) If we were to live together I guess the three of us would get together, cook up an amazing meal and call the rest of our friends over.
Q. What's your take on infidelity?
I've always had only one take on it. It's unacceptable. I'm extremely narrow-minded and conservative when it comes to these kinds of things. I'm very traditional and very conservative when it comes to relationships.
Q. Do you believe in fairytales and happy endings?
Yes I do. I think if I choose to be happy, I'll be happy. It's what you make of the opportunities you get in life. It's how you perceive or take it.
Q. What has the industry taught you?
The industry has been a place where I've met some warm and nice people. Genuine people. As an outsider, everyone accepted me and welcomed me. They made me feel part of the fraternity. I was never made to feel like an outsider. I believe if you are nice to people, people will be nice to you. A lot of it is goodwill. A lot of it is also what my first film did for me. I have been made to feel secure.
Q. Any unfulfilled wishes?
I wish I had worked with Yashji (Chopra). He was very fond of me and I was of him. I wish I had done at least one film with him.
Edited by GuruTheBest - 14 September 2013 at 8:35am