She made her Bollywood debut in 2008 with Om Shanti Om. Eight years later, as Deepika Padukone sets her sights on Hollywood (with a film alongside Vin Diesel), she says that “it’s an interesting time to be an actor”. Deepika, who is set to start shooting for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s next movie, Padmavati, talks about her career, her personal life and more.
In a couple of weeks, you will complete nine years in Bollywood…
I don’t feel like it has been nine years at all. I feel like there is so much to do and so much to learn. I don’t think I have had the time to sit down and think about it and to reflect on everything that has happened. I am someone who always looks ahead. I live in the present. Whether it’s bad or good, I rarely look back. Nine years is nothing. I feel like I have just started out, and have a lot more to give. It’s an extremely exciting time to be an actor.
You are among the world’s highest-paid actresses (as per a Forbes list)…
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw my name in the list, but I think it’s an achievement not just for me but for all the women (out there). In fact, I look at it as an achievement for women from the film industry as well as other professions. It’s not like my focus was on being the highest-paid actress; that has never been my motivation. But, in the process of following my heart and doing what I love, if something like this happens along the way, it’s rewarding.
Your personal life is always in the news. Of late, there have been multiple stories — from your marriage plans to your break-up with alleged boyfriend Ranveer Singh. How do you take it?
I don’t, because there is nothing to ‘take’. I have understood it (the speculations) well enough to know what I should absorb and what I shouldn’t. After a point, one becomes completely immune to these things. You can only do things that are in your control. Certain things are a given when you are in this industry. I am sure there are certain advantages and disadvantages of being in this industry. And this is one of the things one has to deal with, and that’s totally fine. The ups, the positives, and the love we get is way too much for us to get bogged down by the speculations or the negativity.
It seems that, of late, you have been MIA.
No, I’m very much here. Post Bajirao Mastani (2015), I immediately left for Toronto, Canada, to shoot for my Hollywood film. So, I was away for four months, as I completed that in a start-to-finish schedule. After my return, I have been exploring different scripts for a while now. I have finally locked a movie, which I start filming for in a few days.
Do you find any difference in the way Hollywood and Bollywood function?
No, I will admit that I was nervous before I left (for Toronto) about the fact that I was going to work in a completely new environment, and moving out of my comfort zone especially since all this while, I was familiar with the work culture, the people and the working style of only Bollywood. But within a couple of days, I felt completely at ease.
How did you get over that nervousness?
The working style in the west is almost the same. It took me a couple of days to get used to the new faces, but other than that, the processes are pretty similar. I feel extremely proud of the Indian film industry, how much we have achieved in the past couple of years, and how far we have come in terms of content and technical expertise.
Your last film was Bajirao Mastani. Your next film XXX: Return of Xander will release after a gap of over a year. Do such things bother you?
Never. I don’t think there is any kind of strategy that one can put behind creative work. They (working on a movie creatively and working out its release date) are two different things. Everything that I have done in my life comes from my heart and my instincts. I believe everything happens for a reason, so there must be one reason why things have played out the way they have.
You never lose sleep on such things, despite the competition?
In 2013, I had four films releasing, but I didn’t plan that. Similarly, if there’s only one film that is meant to release in a year, that’s also fine. I always look at it in a positive way, and tell myself, “That’s just the way it was meant to be”. I look forward to 2017, in which two amazing films are set to come out. They are completely different and my characters are entirely disparate. Hopefully, they will turn out the way I hope they shall.