Deepika Padukone says that her “self­be­lief” and “fear­less” na­ture gave her strength to en­dure the chal­lenges of the past few months

HT Cafe - - Front Page - Prashant Singh n prashant.singh@htlive.com

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.

Deepika Padukone

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