Having received accolades for her performance in Padmaavat, alongside Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, Deepika Padukone believes in being the director’s actress. She has no qualms in surrendering herself to her filmmakers completely, and that’s perhaps why auteur Sanjay Leela Bhansali has taken such a fancy for her. Relieved after the release of the much-troubled Padmaavat, Deepika Padukone sits down for a freewheeling chat, and reveals her approach towards movies.
Aren’t you tired of dying in your movies? There was Ram Leela, Bajirao Mastani, and now Padmaavat.
(Smiles) My parents are quite irritated. And more than them, my sister (Anisha Padukone) says ‘Didi, why can’t you do one film where you don’t die?’ Now, she doesn’t ask for reviews, she just asks if she should carry tissues. This time, even before she could ask, my parents had seen the film. My father told her ‘Please take tissues.’ Many a times there are discussions on the sets about whether a character should die or not. But in all these three films, I felt it was good my characters had to die. It was a natural progression; it’s very poetic. You die and then you meet in heaven.
People crave to work with SLB, and he’s cast you in three consecutive films. Did you imagine you’d work with him, when you first began?
I consider myself lucky because I got an opportunity to work with him, and the three precious characters he gave me. When I first came into the industry, I never thought I could ever be a Bhansali heroine. I felt that if he could launch a new girl (Sonam Kapoor) in Saawariya, why didn’t he cast me? Since then, I’d feel I wasn’t his type. I’m very much happy with the debut I got (Om Shaanti Om). It was the most perfect. But I used to think that he was probably not even curious enough to cast me. Suddenly, a month before we started Goliyon Ki Raas Leela: Ram Leela, I got his call. And it just happened. I wasn’t even the first choice for Ram Leela.
Do you think a role like Padmavati’s is relevant in today’s day and time?
Yes it is. It’s most relevant in the current situation, when women are coming up and have found their voice. Not just in India, but all over the world, women are standing up for the themselves. If you remove just the jauhar part, I find Padmaavat so relevant in today’s time. And I’m happy that the film has released now. It’s very empowering; it’s a celebration of womanhood. It’s a very powerful time.
Since you mentioned the jauhar part, a lot has been spoken about the climax of Padmaavat. What are your own views on it?
There’s a lot happening in the last scene of the movie, yet there’s not a single dialogue in the climax scene. I had to express my emotions through my eyes, and I get goosebumps even now when I think about it. The way he (Bhansali) treated the sequence was important. Because everyone knew what was going to happen, but it was still a powerful moment. Many people spoke about that last moment, but for me that is a victory. We can discuss about whether I endorse jauhar or not, but that’s a different thing altogether. In those days, people would follow these rituals, but in today’s day and age, nobody would do that. However, in the film’s context, if you see, she won her battle. Padmavati was united with her lover, and most importantly, it was a celebration of womanhood.
Ranveer’s performance has been applauded by one and all. Did you like it?
Absolutely! I’m very happy that he did such good work, wholeheartedly. I know many people discouraged him. He still did the film, and he did it so well. Even Shahid knew what his role was, and still did the film with complete honesty. Both Shahid and Ranveer were told ‘Why are you doing this film? It’s titled Padmavati’. But the movie would not have been the film it is, if it wasn’t for both of them. I’m happy Ranveer did such good work; very few people have that superstar quality and he has it. However, he will have to work hard, because he’s not there just yet.
Your journey in the film industry has been very inspiring. Do you have plans to pen down a book about it?
People have approached me for autobiographies, but I don’t think I have achieved that much in life for either a book to be written or a film made about it. I’m not going to deny the fact that I have worked hard, and yes, I did change my own stars in some way. When I first came into the industry, I was written off. I started my career as a model, so that made it even worse with the perception that we have. But yes, I have worked very hard and I’ve used criticism the right way. That’s the athlete in me. At the same time, there are far more exciting people than me, whose stories can be written.
It’s ironic that you ask this, because in the last few days of shooting Padmaavat, Sanjay sir mentioned that I should start documenting my life. I don’t think I can say I want to document my life. I don’t think my life is different from anyone else’s life. If there’s someone who does feel that my life is exciting, then sure, why not?
Considering Padmaavat was such a huge success, is there a lot of expectation from you now? How do you deal with the pressure?
For me, I look at it with a completely fresh perspective. I don’t carry the burden of success or failure; I consider myself as a fresh starter and newcomer. I have no fear of trusting my directors. The gamble might pay off, or it won’t, but it’s important to trust your directors. If I don’t, I’m not allowing them to maximise the potential of my character. If I have doubts, I should just not do the film.