‘THERE’S A SENSE OF VICTORY’
Deepika Padukone says that her “selfbelief” and “fearless” nature gave her strength to endure the challenges of the past few months
It could be called a classic case of real life mirroring fiction. Not only was Deepika Padukone busy portraying the bravery of Rajput queen Rani Padmavati for film-maker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat, she also showed immense courage and strength in the face of constant threats and controversies surrounding the film in real life. With her film seeing huge success at the box office and her performance garnering praise, Deepika says she has “never identified with the emotion of fear”. We caught up with the actor to talk about the film, the controversy, and more.
What’s your state of mind right now?
I don’t think words can sum up what I am feeling at this point. There is a sense of being overwhelmed, a feeling of achievement, and sense of gratitude and victory, besides, of course, joy and happiness. I feel as if people are blessing me. This has never happened before. I have done films in the past as well, and people have appreciated performances and have spoken about success, but I feel a sense of ownership that I never felt before. Last week, I saw a number of people outside the venue of an event I was attending. I felt as if I was [one of] them and that I was theirs. There was a sense of unity, of oneness, and of wanting to protect.
Where did you look for strength in the face of the threats?
It was all self-belief and being fearless. To be honest, so many good things have happened in the last week or so, that it has erased all of that for me, in a way. I feel those were very important times as well. In fact, it gave me clarity about a lot of things. But today, there is nothing more important than the fact that the film has released, that it is seeing this kind of success, and the fact that Rani Padmavati is being celebrated. There is no better feeling than this one.
Did you feel scared at any point?
Never! As a person, I have never identified with the emotion of fear.
Do you think the love for your performance has overshadowed everything?
Absolutely. It has trumped everything else. It’s not to say that I didn’t feel strongly about certain things at that point. But now, as we speak, I feel everything has been trumped by the love, success, celebration and blessings.
After playing the titular part in Padmaavat, do you feel it’s going to help in the long run visàvis femaledriven films?
Absolutely. I believe that it will. It should, and if that does not happen, I would say that I failed somewhere. I look at this as an opportunity for many such films to be made, and [proof of] the fact that money can be entrusted to a female protagonist. It is a very important time and it’s extremely imperative for us to recognise this.
Goliyon Ki Raasleela RamLeela, Piku, Bajirao Mastani and now Padmaavat – do you feel you have set the bar higher now?
As an athlete, you learn very early not to enjoy too much of anything — not to let success get to your head or to let failure reach your heart. That is one of the first things that my father (ex-badminton champion, Prakash Padukone) taught me — it is very important to celebrate, as you need to acknowledge your efforts and your victory and years of hard work. But not for too long. So, when this phase is done, I will put this behind me and I will have to move on. Otherwise, I will not grow as an artiste and as a human being.
This is your eleventh year in the industry. Do you think there could have been a better start to 2018 for you?
That’s so true (smiles). First of all, my birthday comes very early on in the year, so right at the start [of 2018], I got the best news when I woke up one morning: that Padmaavat had got the CBFC certificate. At that moment, I told myself, ‘this is going to be a great year’. I felt it started on a very auspicious note. I am sure there was a much larger plan for all of us if the film didn’t release then [in December last year] and it did now. Sometimes, you just have to let destiny run its course and not question it while having faith that what’s right will win in the end. Always.
It has been quite a journey for you since Om Shanti Om, and some have called it a beautiful one...
It [the journey] might look beautiful, and I am not saying that it hasn’t been. But it has come with a lot of sacrifices. For me, my biggest sacrifice is to not be able to wake up to my family every morning or the extremely disciplined life that I lead. But it’s not something that I am new to. When I was an athlete, I had to stay disciplined, and I couldn’t be a part of birthdays, celebrations or stay up all night, because I had commitments in the morning. Your friends might complain at that point of time, but it’s the life that I have chosen for myself. Still, I would say that my biggest sacrifice was to move away from my family and live all by myself.