She’s someone who comes across as super poised, coordinated and in control of herself. But that wasn’t always how she was. As a youngster, Deepika Padukone was in fact quite clumsy! “When I was young, our family did not remember restaurants by their names, but by what I had dropped while eating there,” she chuckles. “They used to be known as ‘the restaurant where Deepika dropped milkshake’, ‘the one where she dropped the fork’ or ‘where she spilt sweet corn soup on herself’.”
But today, she says she has what may even amount to OCD about things being in their place.
Deepika is always changing things to alter the look of her home. “I like to do some designing,” she says, and shares that had she not become an actress, she would have liked to be an interior designer (not a badminton player like her famous father). She did consider attending some classes on the subject at one point, but “plans changed,” she says.
When life took some unusual turns
Deepika’s struggles with depression are now quite well-known, but back in 2014, it took courage to first acknowledge the problem, then address it, and finally go public about it. “It can be a lonely journey. And I realized that speaking up is how I wanted to take that journey forward. It was my yearning. Probably my calling. I felt that if by speaking up, I can impact even one life, the purpose would be served,” she says.
The actress gives her mother Ujjala Padukone full credit for realizing that there was a problem, and encouraging her to seek assistance. “I was on a career high. My films were doing well and there was no apparent reason for feeling the way I did. I would break down and there were days when I just didn’t want to wake up. I just wanted to sleep, because sleep was an escape. I was suicidal at times,” she shares.
“My parents live in Bengaluru and every time they visit me, even now, I always put on a brave front and say everything is okay. You always want to show your parents that you are fine. Until one day I broke down. My mother asked the usual questions, ‘Is it a boyfriend? Did something happen at work?’ And I didn’t have any answers. It was none of these things. It came from an empty hollow space, and she knew instantly. We have a counsellor in the family and she spoke to me and she knew from my voice that I needed professional help. I was put on to a psychiatrist and on medication which went on for many months. I was resistant to that because of the stigma attached. I did not want to take medication for the mind and brain and lose control. But when I started medication, I felt better. Only people close to me knew.”
Live Laugh Love Foundation
The actress admits that it was tough during those days to go to work with a smile, shooting for movies and endorsing products and doing public appearances. “It was tough to wake up every morning and breathe and eat. Imagine how tough it would have been to engage with people and perform; obviously, it took a lot of effort,” she says candidly.
“I didn’t want to speak about it then. It was only after many months, when I was cured and I was thinking about it, that I felt I wanted to share my journey with everyone,” says Deepika. And so she gave an interview in a national news channel. “And when I did that, it didn’t feel like the end. It was the beginning and there was so much to say and so much to do and that culminated in the Live Laugh Love Foundation,” she says.
The aim of the Foundation she set up is to create that awareness about the need to be sensitive to people around. “If someone is feeling low, don’t just pat them on the back and say everything will be okay or just play some upbeat music and say things will be fine,” she says.
Deepika stresses that “If you are feeling low or sad for three weeks or more, you should go and see a psychiatrist or at least a counsellor. My theory is that it’s better to err on the side of caution.”
Love for jewellery
“When you are a young girl and you see your mother getting dressed up, deciding what jewellery to wear, you tell yourself, ‘yeah, that’s beautiful and I hope I get to wear that,’” says Deepika. “Anisha’s and my tastes are different, so eventually when the jewellery is being split, we will not be fighting and scrambling for it,” says the actress, who prefers traditional jewellery to modern designs.
“Being a south Indian, I love south Indian jewellery and the traditional temple jewellery and that is very different from jewellery from any other part of the world. It is not about wanting what I see on hoardings, it is about sentimental values for me,” she explains.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion event, she says the first piece of jewellery she bought for herself was a pair of solitaires. “They were small, but large for me at that time,” smiles the actress who went on to purchase jewels worth Rs. 60 lakh for her wedding, and now endorses a jewellery brand too.
- Sanskriti Media...