That Deepika Padukone is a Bollywood star and one of the biggest influencers in the world is old news. However, a glimpse of the woman behind the star will be revealed in National Geographic’s Sunday episode of Mega Icons Season 2. We got early access to the episode which featured a candid, thoughtful Deepika and her close associates who spoke about her journey as a person and an icon. Here are five key takeaways from the episode which will air at 7 pm on September 20.
Hardest worker in the room
This has been said before, but perhaps not with as much emphasis and detail. Deepika Padukone is one of the hardest working actors in showbiz today. And a testament to that is her husband and co-star Ranveer Singh’s claims of a wounded Deepika dancing her way into the hearts of the audience. Quite literally. Talking about Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Ramleela, Ranveer stated that Deepika practised so hard for the song “Nagada sang dhol” that she would often bleed from her feet. He said, “There was literally no skin on the bottom of her feet. It was red with blood. That is the degree to which she has worked hard to achieve what she has achieved.”
Deepika Padukone made her Bollywood debut with the 2007 Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Om Shanti Om, which was a runaway success. But before she became an actor, she was an athlete. The actor said, “There was no time to chit-chat and catch up with friends. No late nights, no TV, no movies. Sports really teaches you a lot — sacrifice, discipline, dedication and determination.” Daughter of badminton legend Prakash Padukone, Deepika trained to follow in her father’s footsteps and even went on to play the game at the state level. However, she soon discovered that her true calling was being a performer. Deepika began modelling when she was only 16 and later went on to act in some of the biggest blockbusters of Bollywood.
However, she was unable to match the Farah Khan directorial’s success with some of her later releases. Many believed she was just a one-time-wonder who would not be able to have a big career. While some said she could not act at all and that Om Shanti Om was just a fluke, many wrote her off completely. But with the 2012 release Cocktail, things changed for Deepika in a big way. People began to recognise her potential as a wonderful actor.
Cocktail screenwriter Imtiaz Ali said, “I feel Deepika’s story changed with that movie. She found interest in Veronica’s character.” The actor herself mentioned that the film came to her when she was at an all-time low and had nothing to lose. “Cocktail allowed me to be vulnerable. Once I had felt that joy and that high, there was no turning back,” said Deepika.
2012-13: The highs and lows
While things were going great for Deepika Padukone professionally (she had four hits in 2013 — Ramleela, Race 2, Chennai Express and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani), she was not in a great frame of mind. Deepika, at times, felt extremely helpless and sad. Later, she was diagnosed with depression. Since then, the actor has come out with her experience and has even started an organisation called Live Love Laugh to lend support to people battling depression. However, at that time, the actor didn’t feel very hopeful about herself. Talking about that phase of Deepika’s life, Ranveer said, “She had a blackout and she had fallen very very suddenly and when she came back to her senses, she couldn’t stop bawling. It was very very scary.”
Sharpening her craft
After her breakthrough performance in Cocktail, Deepika featured in a string of critically-acclaimed, commercially viable movies such as Ramleela, Chennai Express, Finding Fanny, Piku, Tamasha and Bajirao Mastani. And with each film, she showed improvement as an artiste, both in terms of her performances and choices.
Imtiaz Ali, who directed Deepika in Love Aaj Kal and Tamasha, said the actor’s main issue is her self-confidence. However, he added that this is not such a bad thing always as it allows her to push herself even harder.
Deepika Padukone is not only expanding her horizon as an actor, but as an artiste as well. She recently made her debut as a producer with Chhapaak, where she won over critics with her turn as the acid attack survivor Malti. She currently has the sports drama 83, official Hindi remake of Hollywood movie The Intern as well as Shakun Batra’s romantic drama in her kitty. Deepika will also be seen sharing screen space with Tollywood superstar Prabhas in a Nag Ashwin directorial.
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