She had been away from India for a long time. After wrapping up her debut Hollywood film xXx: The Return of Xander Cage with Vin Diesel, Deepika Padukone returned to the country a couple of weeks back. But, the actor says no matter where she goes, “India is home, and that’s never going to change.” In an exclusive interview, the star talks about her films, working on a Hollywood project, her personal life, and more.
You are back in India after so long…
It feels great to be back home. I made a few one-day trips to India in between [while shooting in Canada], but this time, coming back is a different feeling. I have always been a homebody. I enjoy spending time at home. I don’t think I’ve been away for so long at a stretch ever. I really look forward to coming back home after finishing work, chilling, having nice Indian food and spending quality time.
Many felt that we lost you to Hollywood…
That can never happen (smiles).
So you will always be a Bollywood actor?
I don’t look at it as Hollywood or Bollywood, but, of course, my roots are here, and at the end of the day, it’s about your roots. You can’t take India out of me. People go for holidays, but eventually, come back home. So, no matter where I go in the world, this [India] is home, and that will never change.
How different was working on a Hollywood film?
It was exactly the same in terms of every minute detail. I think that’s what made me feel so much at home; made me feel comfortable. And, most importantly, like any other film, all of us were on a journey. It was great fun. It was not about different people from different parts of the world coming together. We all came with our cultures to make a fun-filled and interesting movie. I am sure that will translate on screen too.
You haven’t signed a Hindi film for over six months now. Do you ever feel insecure?
Not at all. At the end of the day, you have to be excited about the work you do. So, whatever I find next has to be bigger and better, and more challenging than what I’ve done in the past, because you grow and learn with every film. I am not interested in churning out a certain number of films every year. For me, it’s about the quality of work. I think it’s about following your instincts and doing a film for the right reason.
There’s so much focus on your personal life. Do you feel annoyed?
Not at all. I always feel it’s about what you make of certain situations, and your perspective to certain things. One person’s perspective on something doesn’t necessarily need to be mine too. And that’s the way I’ve looked at anything that has come my way. I never encourage any speculation or negativity.
Rumours suggest that all’s not good between you and Ranveer Singh. How would you respond to that?
Well, there’s nothing to respond to because as I said, ‘I have never responded to such sort of things and I don’t plan to do the same anytime soon (smiles).
Has your equation with Ranveer Singh changed over the years?
I have never commented on anything before, so I wouldn’t say anything even now. He is someone who has always been and will always be an extremely important part of my life. That’s never going to change.
Will you be more active in Hollywood or divide your time equally between the two film industries?
Perspectives change, but at the end of the day, it will be about following my heart and instincts. Creativity goes beyond boundaries so for me and life is one long continuous journey. Different things, challenges and opportunities will come your way. It depends where you are in your life at that point, and what you want to make of those opportunities.
For long, Indian actors have been cast in stereotyped roles in Hollywood. Is that perception changing?
Definitely, it’s changing. I have done a full-fledged feature film. My work and Priyanka’s (Chopra; actor) performance in Quantico are the classic examples that testify the change. But if a mindset has been deeply engraved for so many years, like many things that are embedded in our culture, it’s not going to change overnight. But I always look at things positively, and believe that things are changing. And in whatever little capacity I can, I want to be part of that change.
Are you doing film-maker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s next movie based on Rani Padmavati?
I can’t confirm anything at this point, but like I always say, ‘Soon, you will get to know what I am doing next.’
A couple of months back, you also hung out with ace tennis player Novak Djokovic in Los Angeles, USA. How was the meeting?
Since I come from a sports family, I draw a lot of inspiration from athletes. I consider myself fortunate to have met him. Three years ago, when he was in India, I had met him then. I find it interesting to interact and learn from such high achievers, especially since he is an athlete in an individual sport. There’s a lot of similarity in people like him and Roger Federer, and I have been lucky to have met these people.
A few foreign publications called you the ‘mystery’ girl…
It was all in good humour (laughs). It was actually more fun to see how that entire thing ultimately panned out.
Rumours also suggest that you auditioned for a Bond film and a Brad Pitt film…
Sometimes, I find some theories really strange, but I have never been one to talk about them. I have never felt the need to clarify rumours that involve my life. There is absolutely no truth to any of these two specific films.
Also, reports claims that you might star opposite Salman Khan in his next two films?
Wow (smiles). It’s not something that I am aware of. So, I don’t know about both the films.