releases in the last couple of years have all done well at the box office, and she has also won praise for her performances. The latest example is that of Piku, the journey of which she describes as "overwhelming as well as emotional". The actor also discusses her creative involvement with films, moving from one project to another, and why she got embarrassed the first time she met Amitabh Bachchan.
Do you remember your first interaction with Amitabh Bachchan?
I first worked with him in Aarakshan (2011), and something very embarrassing happened. The first time I went to the sets, I didn’t know he was there. We were shooting a classroom scene, and he was just sitting there among 100 kids. He was not part of the scene. I think it’s an amazing quality for an actor to have the ability to blend in. By then, I had greeted everybody else, and suddenly, I heard his signature ‘Aye’ from behind. I was stunned and so embarrassed.
Were you intimidated by him?
I will give him credit for the fact that I wasn’t intimidated by him, the same way I give credit to Shah Rukh Khan (SRK). They understand that a person is new. In my first film, people said that I held my own alongside Shah Rukh, but that’s because he made me feel like an equal.
Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone in a song from Om Shanti Om.
You’ve teamed up with Mr Bachchan again for this film. What have you learnt from him?
He’s been acting for decades now, and he could have easily developed an ‘I know it all’ attitude, but there’s so much enthusiasm in him at every level. The younger generation can really learn from his zeal.
Deepika plays Amitabh's daughter in Piku.
As an actor, do you share creative inputs with your directors?
I do, but I’d like to believe that I’m a director’s actor. I’m very dependent on my director. Creatively, yes, I’m definitely involved, but not at the scripting level. I don’t tamper with the script; that’s the director’s vision. My inputs are limited to my character. There are times when I sit with my director and discuss scenes; there are things I might want to add or remove, or I want to do differently. But I don’t interfere with the script at large.
How easy or difficult is it to detach yourself from a project, to move on to another?
It’s something that you have to deal with. I think it’s more difficult for directors because they spend a lot more time on a film than actors do. We wrap up a film and move on to another. It’s not an immediate transition, at least not for me, but you get there eventually. The director has lived with the film from the scripting stage. So Shoojit (Sircar; director of
), for example, will not make another film until he’s convinced about a subject, and that’s going to take a couple of years.
Your latest release has got rave reviews. Describe your journey with the film.
It has been overwhelming as well as emotional. Right from the time Shoojit offered it to me, to seeing it as a work in progress, followed by the end result, and then promoting it together, it’s been great. It’s sad when shooting ends, but you convince yourself that you will all meet during promotions. Then the film releases, and it’s such a mixed bag of emotions because you’re happy, but also sad that it’s getting over.