When Deepika Padukone, a state level badminton player and daughter of former badminton ace Prakash Padukone decided to take a plunge in Bollywood with Om Shanti Om (2007), she was welcomed with open arms. It was not just a debut opposite King Khan, but her confident screen presence that made her stand apart from a regular newcomer. She walked away with the best newcomer award that year and was even nominated for Filmfare best actress trophy.
Critics saw immense potential in the actress. "Deepika Padukone is fantastic, so surprisingly assured that you marvel at her poised debut," wrote Khalid Mohamed for Hindustan Times.
Bachna Ae Haseeno opposite Ranbir Kapoor came next. The actress added another hit to her kitty with the movie, but there was hardly any scope for performance. Ranbir overshadowed this 'Haseena'.
Surprisingly the potential shown by Om Shanti Om's 'Shanti' never got translated into a full-fledged award-winning peformance in her subsequent films. While Chandni Chowk to China (2009) was a dud, Kathik Calling Kathik (2010) was an out-and-out Farhan Akhtar film. Housefull (2010) was a multistarrer. Deepika's portrayal in Love Aaj Kal (2009) got her praise, but not award.
Lafangey Parinday (2010) could have changed the ball game for Dippy. Critics went gaga over the lady. "Deepika Padukone is more than competent. Despite an emotionally inscrutable part, she rivets your attention with her fluid body language and expressive eyes. She’s worth a dekko," said Khalid Mohammed in his review.
Despite Deepika's strong performance, the film crashed at the BO, and she was not even nominated for an award. A series of duds followed. Break Ke Baad (2010) opposite Imran Khan, Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se (2010) opposite Abhishek Bachchan and Desi Boyz opposite John Abraham made Deepika's position in Bollywood weak.
Interestingly, while her sari-clad avatar in Om Shanti Om was applauded by one and all, Veronica's modern avatar and devil-may-care attitude in Cocktail got her noticed in the critics circuit once again. She not only explored the grey shades in her character with convinction, she also managed to shine above other cast members Saif Ali Khan and Diana Penty. Race 2, although a multi-starrer added another feather to her success cap. The lady this year confidently entered the Rs. 100 crore club with Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. Her portrayal as Naina got her critics' praise once again. "Post Cocktail, Deepika nails her part yet again. The actress makes her character distinctive, blending grit, courage, compassion, sensuality and buoyancy with flourish," wrote Taran Adarsh in his review for Bollywood Hungama.
With Chennai Express, Deepika Padukone has explored yet another shade of her acting prowess and is able to make impact even in a mindless comedy.
Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone
This is what Anupama Chopra said about the actress in the film. "I enjoyed watching Deepika Padukone as Meena, the don’s daughter with the thick accent, who meets Rahul on Chennai Express and turns his life upside down. Padukone’s spirited performance — she even makes that accent attractive — helps to lift the film."
Deepika will now be experimenting with different languages and genres in her upcoming movies. While she will mouth her dialogues in Tamil in Kochadaiyyan opposite Rajinikanth, Finding Fanny Fernandes will be an English satirical short film. Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Ram Leela opposite Ranveer Singh would be her next Hindi movie.
SRK and Deepika on the sets of Chennai Express