Deepika Padukone Curated
Indian & Hollywood Actress
CURATED BY :
Having bagged most awards this season, would you say you’re at the peak of your career?
I still have the same approach to work as I had earlier. I just enjoy my films. Of course, when I hear or read good things about my work, I feel good. It has taken a lot of hard work to achieve all this. But you shouldn’t take your achievements too seriously. Do your work and move on!
Does the ‘superstar’ tag make you proud?
I don’t feel proud at all. Yes, it does feel good. But it also means I must focus more on my work.
What keeps you so grounded?
I’ve always believed that success is temporary. So enjoy it till it lasts. It’s me today; it will be someone else tomorrow. That’s how this business works. One needs to stay balanced. If you enjoy your work, the rest happens on its own.
Are you under pressure to select films more carefully now?
Absolutely not! I’ve always followed my instincts. I’ve worked with all directors, established and newcomers. In fact, I’ve worked more with newcomers. I’ve never chosen a project on the basis of the set-up. I’ve always looked at whether I connect with a story.
You looked stunning in Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela. What’s the secret?
I guess it’s my state of mind. When the audience loves you, when the industry loves you, when critics praise your work, when the media writes and the industry believes that Deepika is number one, then of course you feel confident. It’s a great feeling when people call me by the names of the characters I’ve played – Veronica (Cocktail), Naina Talwar (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani) or Miniyamma (Chennai Express)!
Initially, Kareena Kapoor Khan was to play Leela. Did this affect you in any way?
Not at all! When Sanjayji came to me, I was plain excited. I was ready to surrender to his vision. What happened earlier or later is none of my business. I guess I was destined to work with him.
Tell us something about Homi Adajania’s Finding Fanny Fernandez .
It’s a road trip film. I remember the first trip I took was after completing SSC. I went to Europe with my friends. That was also my first trip without my family.
How was it working with Arjun Kapoor in FFF?
I’ve just shot one scene with him. He’s new and raw and that’s a good thing. Arjun is like an encyclopedia of films. Ask him the name of any movie, composer, singer or lyricist, he’ll know it all. He has a huge DVD collection. He’s a hardworking actor.
Was acting your first love?
I always felt like I would become an actor one day. Coming from a sports family, we didn’t watch a lot of movies, but on the few occasions that we did, I would feel that this is where I would reach eventually—without knowing how. It was just a gut feeling. Of course, I continued playing badminton and later became a model, but today when I look back at my life, I think about how fascinating it was. Something that I thought would happen, manifested and worked out for me. I genuinely believe that if you want something, you focus your energies on making it happen.
There must have been challenges on the way. Did you ever feel like giving up?
No. Giving up has never been an option for me. I don’t think I have ever been through that feeling. I don’t deny that there were moments of weakness and vulnerability, but I don’t think any sort of failure or negativity has led me to want to give up.
How do you feel when you walk into a movie set today?
Today, there is a sense of familiarity and comfort versus the day when I first walked on to a set. That day, everything was new for me—neither did I have any experience or understanding of the medium, nor did I know what I needed to do. I feel a sense of confidence and belonging now.
What are the lessons that you have learnt in these years?
Authenticity has been one of the biggest and most important learnings for me—right from the type of films I choose to my own personality. I feel it takes a lot of self-awareness to get to that place. Most often, I think we are always trying to be somebody we are not. We are always living with the fear of being judged or not living up to other people’s expectations. But it’s extremely empowering when you get to a place where you are comfortable with yourself and who you are.
Does failure intimidate you?
No, it doesn’t, and I don’t think it ever has. Being an athlete has taught me how to embrace failure. It is a lesson in life, and one should experience and accept failure in order to be successful.
Have perceptions changed after you have come out to the industry about your mental health?
Yes, absolutely. There’s been a paradigm shift, where it has encouraged a lot of people to come out and seek help, not just from the fraternity, but from around the world. That was the very intent of sharing my experience in the first place, and I am glad that I have been able to impact so many lives. I can say this unabashedly because I experience it on a daily basis when people write their firsthand experiences to me. It feels good to know that I, along with my organisation, The Live Love Laugh Foundation, was able to highlight and underline the importance of mental health and bring the conversation to the fore in our country.
Tell us more about people writing to you…
People write to me in so many ways. I have people who write me letters, and pass me notes every time—whether I am sitting in an airplane or at a restaurant. They confide to me, thanking me for giving them that strength. In fact, recently when I was at restaurant in Bangalore, three young girls passed me a note through the waiter. I just assumed that they wanted a picture with me, because that is how it used to be earlier. But it wasn’t about that. All three of them were in therapy, and collectively they wrote me a note, thanking me for coming out, as it was after that they were encouraged to seek help. Now this is a constant for me, like an everyday phenomenon. Then, there are professionals, counsellors, and therapists who write to me reporting the surge they see every year. I remember the story of this boy who was clinically depressed, but refused to take medication. After he watched my interview, he willingly went to the doctor next day and started taking his medicines. Few months later, he specifically told the doctor to mention this to me, and that he is feeling much better, thanks to that interview which impacted his life. I want to share this story because I don’t think things like these usually come out. It is important for my foundation in its journey to destigmatise mental illnesses.
You have been asked many times in the past about the pay gap in the industry. Don’t you feel it’s unfair to ask a female actor about her remuneration when the same thing wouldn’t be asked of a male actor?
The way I would put it is that it was an important conversation to have, because only when you talk of disparity and bridging a wage gap, can you reach a place when you don’t have to ask that question again. We needed to address the issues—whether it was the lack of female representation or the wages—because they were glaring in our faces. Over a period of time, we had those discussions, so today we can sit back and say, we don’t need to have them anymore. By sweeping something under the carpet or not admitting it, you are not going to address the issue.
Are you considering more Hollywood projects?
I am just considering projects. Today, the world has become so small and inclusive—it focusses more on the kind of story you are telling and less on where it’s coming from and the language it’s being told in. As an actor, one strives to be part of a film or any sort of medium that has good content. This has always been the process for me and it hasn’t changed over the years.
How do you unwind?
I spend a lot of time at home with my parents, sister, and loved ones. That’s my way of staying grounded and being rooted. Also, cleaning. Like every other household, there are people to do it, but there are days when I need to, and happily do it myself.
Do you think actors today feel much more pressured to stay relevant online?
I am a bit old-school when it comes to social media, and think the only thing relevant is your work. So if you attain popularity and stardom with no substance, it is going to fade away eventually. Substance is key, and it will never let you down.
Is there a life lesson that you would like to share with your fans?
Whatever profession you are in, virtues like sacrifice, commitment, dedication, and hard work are the bare minimum requirements. I have said this earlier as well, follow the three Ds—dedication, determination, and discipline. All of these things are vital, not just to survive, but also be successful in whatever you do.
Were your parents afraid for you because of all that was happening around Padmaavat?
Concern is natural. However, my parents know that I can take care of myself.
What was your parents’ reaction to Padmaavat?
I FaceTimed them after they saw the movie in Bengaluru. We do that after each of my films. But this time around, it was different. They were emotional, speechless and in awe. I could feel them questioning, ‘Is this our daughter?’ But then again, I could see them say, ‘Yes, she is our daughter.’ There were so many emotions that they were feeling and looking at them, there was a lot going on, within me. They had a special screening the first time. Naturally, there were a lot of people walking up to them and congratulating them. But my parents mentioned to me that they would like to see it again.
What is the best compliment that you have received for your performance in Padmaavat?
Well, it’s a bit awkward but it would have to be the one given to me by Javed Akhtar saab. He said, ‘This is your Mother India.’ I just bowed my head in front of him. Sanjay Leela Bhansali sir was also present when he said it.
The ‘jauhar’ scene has come in for flak and praise. Tell about this.
Let me put things in perspective. We are not endorsing jauhar. You must see the scene/practice in context to the period in which it was shown. And when you do that, you will realise, it’s so powerful. You do not feel like she is doing anything wrong. You want her to embrace the flames because she is going to be united with the man she loves. For me, it was the most difficult scene to perform. We shot it in peak summer at Film City in Mumbai. I cannot tell you how challenging it was. After every single take, I would go up to my van, have a shower, get ready for my scene and go back. With my heavy costume and jewellery, the heat was oppressive. It was such a difficult thing to execute. There is absolutely no dialogue. And when I saw the scene during the cast and crew screening, Sanjay sir, Ranveer (Singh) and I, who were sitting together, started bawling. Everyone stood up and clapped. We are part of this film, we know the story, we have been through the journey, yet it moved us. Then, Janhvi (Sridevi’s daughter), who had gone for a screening, told me that people there were standing and clapping. I do not know how Sanjay Leela Bhansali could hold a climax of 15 minutes with no dialogue. It is sheer performance and the way he has treated that entire scene is genius. It is one of the best climax scenes that I’ve ever seen.
Is it true that Sanjay Bhansali wanted to make Padmaavat with you for a very long time?
When we were shooting Bajirao Mastani, Sanjay sir had spoken of a film called Padmavati that he wanted to make. To him, the film was a tribute to the power, strength and beauty of a queen. It was always his vision to have celebrated this woman’s power, courage and dignity. And I can understand that. To me, the ultimate thing was that she led from the front. She led like a warrior without being one. So, it’s a very special film.
Did you research about your part in film Padmaavat?
Earlier, I didn’t know much about Rani Padmavati. I knew just as much as other people do. I’m not a history student and my knowledge is what I had gathered in passing. Obviously, when you are offered a film, you get into the depths of it. So, I started looking at images and studied some more about her.
In your opinion, were you able to infuse life into Rani Padmaavati?
With every role that you play, you put a little bit of yourself into it. Piku would not have been Piku if I hadn’t lent some part of myself to her. That’s how characters come to life. They are written on paper. How you put a part of yourself into that role and bring it to life is the actual secret of the character’s success. It’s a combination of all these things. It’s also important to make it relevant to the times we are in.
Did Padmaavat take a toll on you mentally?
Playing Rani Padmavati was tough. The most challenging part was that there were no crutches available to her. As a queen, she cannot scream or yell. She has to hold fort because her husband has been captured. She can’t break down because the entire kingdom is now looking at her. She’s the strength and courage for the entire community. So, she has to bottle up every emotion that she is feeling. When I played Mastani, I thought that was tough. But at least she went to war and had a sword in her hand, so there was a release. Over here, it was different. I found it more challenging than some of the other parts that I’ve played.
What thoughts crossed through your mind when you saw yourself as Padmavati in the mirror for the first time?
I think it was just meant to be. Mr Bhansali has blessed me with three such amazingly strong and powerful characters. Leela, Mastani and Padmavati are all so different. There was a lot of apprehension when people knew that I was doing my third film with Sanjay sir. They felt how much different is it going to be than what he has made with me earlier. Now, it is there for everyone to see.
Any other historical character that you would like to play?
Not after this. I don’t think I can top Padmavati, so at least for a long time to come, I will not attempt any other historical character. I know people say, ‘Never say never.’ I’m an actor and I may get tempted to do another historical character, if I’m offered one. But I know it will not be for a long, long time.
It looked like you were having a blast at your wedding. Tell us about this.
I think the pictures we shared [on social media] summed up the wedding – it was magical to have just family and friends there who mean something to you, who don’t really care about who you are professionally, but are there because they love you for who you are as a person. People who’ve seen you grow, been part of your journey and are genuinely happy for you.
Did you have a bachelorette?
The bachelors crashed my bachelorette! Eventually, it became one big party with all our friends. We were in Orlando for a week and the aim was to get on the scariest roller coasters, to feel that rush of adrenaline, like you’re flying. We went on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit [at Universal Studios], which Ellen DeGeneres posted about a while back. And the VR Avatar rides [at Disney’s Animal Kingdom], for which we had to stand in line for two-and-a-half to three hours, were phenomenal.
Are you an extreme sports junkie?
I am. I’m not a bungee-jumping person – I’ve never done it – but I have sky-dived often. I’m a deep-sea diver too.
You’re one of the few people in the world that gets to see Ranveer sans the cameras, sans the hyperbole and the flamboyance. What do you see?
He is vulnerable, extremely emotional, very intelligent; childlike at times. That’s not to say that his irrepressible energy isn’t him, it’s very him. He’s a real people’s person, but there’s a quiet side to him too. Emotionally, I think I’m the more intuitive one. I’d say IQ is more him. But at the same time, he’s not all like, “I’m a man, I can’t show my emotions.” He’s sensitive, and so am I, and it makes it easier to share a life with someone who understands that.
What do you think is going to change for you after getting married?
Well, I’ve been running a home since I was 18, so I don’t think much is going to change in that sense. But of course, we’ll go through all the changes that happen when two people start living together. I was clear right from the start that I didn’t want to have a live-in relationship to figure out if I wanted to marry someone or not. Now [I’m expecting] everything that comes with being a newly-wed: sharing space, you know, or the bills, whatever it takes for two people to live a life together.
What are your best practices for mental hygiene?
Massages are very important, as are exercise, sleep and staying hydrated. All of these things sound basic, but they can still take a lot of effort. And they’re crucial.
Is there a fitness trend you’re into right now?
Running is something I’ve taken to this year. That’s the other highlight of 2018 for me. I’ve gone from hating cardio – I was only okay with it in the form of aerobics or dance – to absolutely loving it. I set myself this goal: that I wanted to enjoy running. It’s very important to me to nurture myself and my body.
What does 2019 look like for you?
It’s going to be pretty challenging because I’ll be producing and acting in Meghna Gulzar’s next film [about acid victims]. For the first time, I’ll also be taking decisions with my director – we’d started work before I took off for the wedding, and will get back to it now. Also, setting up home.
Have you started filming for xXx 4?
No, I haven’t started shooting yet and I’m not really clear where that stands right now. I’m currently focusing on Meghna’s film.
What do you think of the current churn in Hindi cinema? The fact that a Badhaai Ho can outperform a Thugs Of Hindustan? Or that a Piku can be on par with a Padmaavat?
These are such exciting times in showbiz – there’s no formula. As an actor, the only thing you can do at this point is to go with your gut. There’s clearly an appetite [for innovative content from audiences] – which allows us to do much more.
Will we see you in a web series in the near future?
I’m very open to working on a web series. In fact, I’ve already been exploring this format, but I think it’s a matter of coming across the right content.
What are you watching right now?
I’ve finished The Crown and Fauda. I really want to watch The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. Ranveer and I started Wild Wild Country together, but realised our schedules weren’t matching, so we ended up watching it separately. But it blew my mind.
Have you had a star-struck moment yet?
Not yet, I don’t think it’ll happen here. I appreciate people’s work, but it just doesn’t excite me to that level.
You were always a global actor but now you are doing films that are speaking to people who are not south Asian, our traditional markets. How do you want to leverage this platform?
As an actor, I want to be selfish and use this opportunity to be able to meet people – producers, directors, writers – and looking at doing films where they feel that I might be appropriate for the film, or something that I might be excited about. Just from a learning point of view, [I would like] to see what other actors are doing, to see the kind of films being made in various other languages. And then, of course, there is the L'Oréal angle for me, because beauty and fashion play such an important in films, in a certain sense. They help characters come alive, and this feels like everything coming together, from the point of cinema.
This is your tenth year of being an actor. Do you take stock that ‘I’ve come this far’, and it’s massive – you’re the highest paid actress in Hindi cinema, is that correct?
It has definitely been a very exciting and interesting journey considering I come from a different kind of background. Maybe people expected me to be an athlete, I don’t know. This is all I always wanted to do and there was no formal training as such, I’ve learnt more on the job. You know more than anyone else that there was also a bit of writing off at the start of my career and to be able to rise above all of that and just focus on my craft, enjoying the process while I’m at it – all of that has just been amazing. I went through a phase where I was like ‘never look back, just keep moving forward’. But in the last couple of months, I felt that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. It is important sometimes to look back and appreciate some things you’ve done and pat yourself on the back, though still move forward.
You’ve recently become a producer. What prompted that?
The subject of the film. I want to enable films that need either a platform, a push or a voice. The Laxmi Aggarwal film felt like the right one to start with. I’m not sure what I’ll produce next. I don’t have a production house. This was one of those films that I related to and there was room to back it.
You’ve topped the list of 50 Sexiest Asian women. Do these things mean anything to you?
Honestly, no. I don’t mean I’m not happy when I see my name there. But my life’s not defined by it. Sexuality and sensuality need to be embraced. We tend to believe it’s a wrong tag to be associated with. But it’s not just physical. It’s the mind, the spirit, it’s your personality... As far as the listing is concerned, it’s great if my name is on it. But my life’s not ruled by it.
How do you feel about being the fourth highest paid actor in India currently?
That’s something I’m excited about. Especially, when wage disparity has been such an important conversation, I’m glad it’s finally come to the fore. I’m also proud of it because I’ve earned it, not demanded it. It’s backed by the work I’ve put in over the years. Even if I’d demanded it, nobody is a fool to pay you that kind of money for no reason. Where bridging the wage disparity between actors and actresses is concerned, we still have a long way to go. But this is definitely a landmark moment.
You’re earning more than many of your male co-stars today. Will this empower other actresses?
Yes it will. Often, I’m willing to let go of work because I know how much other people are getting paid. People try to short-change you. I’m confident enough to say no to a film, an endorsement or even an appearance. I’m not doing this for me. I’m doing this because I’d like to pave the way for the generations that’ll follow. Someone has to take this head-on. I’m happy to do that.
What is your reason for not signing films in the last two years?
When it comes to movies, I’m always led by my heart, my gut and my instincts. Nothing excites me creatively enough than to get up and go to work. Even when I did four films simultaneously, it wasn’t because I wanted to do four films a year. It’s because they were all different and creatively exciting.
Would you reduce your Fee if something exciting came your way?
It’s relative. It would depend upon how much the male actor is getting paid. Everyone knows who’s getting paid how much and why so. I’m not delusional when it comes to that. I’m also aware of how much I deliver vis-à-vis the Khans, vis-à-vis the newer boys like Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor or Varun Dhawan. I know where I stand. I’m also aware of the production costs. I don’t want a penny if the money is going to the film. But I’ll not settle for being paid less because they need to compensate for the male actor. If you’re going to say that don’t charge so much because we want Ranbir Kapoor in the film and we’ve got to pay him, then I’m not okay with it. I’ll then demand an equal amount.
Was it frustrating waiting for challenging roles to come your way during the past two years?
It was. But it also gave me time to replenish myself and give my all to Meghna Gulzar’s film (a biopic on acid-attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal). Living life fully is important for your work. I did everything I wanted to do for so long. I spent time with my loved ones, I’ve got married, I travelled, I slept. I’ve had massages like never before. I nurtured myself. We need this as human beings and most importantly as actors, you need to replenish yourself. We tend to think of ourselves as machines churning out films, one after the other. In the West, it doesn’t work like that. There they do one film in two or three years. Our mindset needs to change.
What excited you about Meghna Gulzar’s film?
It was the human connection. I’ve met Laxmi Agarwal a couple of times. My team told me about Meghna’s film. Meghna must have thought that I’ll never say yes to the film but she still wanted to give it a shot. I wanted to meet Meghna but emotionally this wasn’t something I believed I wanted to do. But right after the first scene was narrated, I wanted to do the film. I connected to it. It was a story that needed to be told. It was clear how invested Meghna was in the film. It’s not just the script; you also have to connect to the director. It’s important that the crew has the right vision for the film. After Meghna’s narration, my team said we’ll get back to you. But I was like no, I’m doing this. It was so simple. We unnecessarily complicate the process. I meet everyone. I’m honest about why I’m doing the film. I’ll never lie about dates being an issue. It’s okay to not connect and it’s important to give the filmmaker an honest feedback.
There were talks that you’re doing a superhero film. Is it true?
Yes, I’m working on it. I hope it happens. There’s no script as yet. It’s something my friend and I are developing. I was in the plane with a friend from the industry and talking about the movies we’d like to make. We realised that this superhero film is something we’d like to make. It’s a seed we’re nurturing.
Will the superhero film be your next project after Meghna Gulzar’s film?
It could be. But it needs to come together. All the elements in the film need to be correct. From the characters to the director, everything needs to be fixed.
Coming to your marriage, have we now moved away from the notion that marital status of an actress affects the box-office?
Let’s hope so. Everyone is married. Does that mean that the industry comes to a standstill? Does that mean that we have no girls left? I guess, previously it was the person’s choice more than box-office diktats. If actresses didn’t work after marriage, it was their decision to prioritise something else overwork. Probably, they were exhausted and just wanted to live life and nurture their families. But I’m sure the millennial woman doesn’t feel like that. When you don’t feel like that, it won’t be that way.
Will your marriage affect the kind of films that’ll you’ll say yes to now?
No, why should it? The journey of life will. The kind of films that I do today and the films I did five years ago are different because I was in a creatively different space then. But marriage is not going to change anything.
Are there any changes in you after marriage?
I’m a lot more grounded. I feel secure, I feel protected. When you’re in a relationship, there’s still a lot of nerves, you’re still unsure, no matter how long you’ve been dating. I guess, the terms boyfriend and girlfriend sound frivolous. Somewhere, it doesn’t carry that weightage as marriage does. Today when we look at each other, there’s a sense of responsibility.
How do you feel post-marriage? Is it just a mental switch?
The way Ranveer held my hand on the day we got married, November 14 was different from the way he used to hold it earlier. Or maybe it was just a switch in my head. There’s a sense of responsibility, which I can’t explain. Now everything we do is ‘us’. Not to say that in marriage you should forget your individuality and independence. But it’s also nice to know that today I share a home with someone. Even if he’s busy promoting his film, he comes back late at night. Even if he walks in at 4 am, he’s coming home. When you’re in a relationship it’s different. We didn’t want to live together and then see if we wanted to marry each other or not. We’re both traditional in that sense. Of course, as boyfriend and girlfriend you stay over, you go for holidays together but we used to come back and go to our own homes. We were clear that we’d start living together after marriage and figure life as we go along. Or else where’s the beauty in the discovery? So now we’re figuring things out. Like I’m figuring out his routine. I call him in the evening to check how his day is going and what time he’s coming home, what he will have for dinner… (Smiles) All of this is great.
Could you please share how it feels to live together with Ranveer?
It’s beautiful living together. I’m sure cynics will say you’ve just gotten married to him, wait for 15 years or 25 years. We’ll figure it out then. For now, it’s the best feeling in the world. I looked forward to living together because I moved out of home at a young age to start working. A lot of my friends used to say we can’t wait to get out of our house. I was the opposite. I got out young. I craved for my family. When we were dating, it was about spending time with his family or going to Bangalore to be with my parents. I’d crave that quality time where you wake up in the morning and have someone to talk to while you’re having breakfast. For the last 15 years, I was alone.
Ranveer mentioned in a Filmfare interview that while he was ready for marriage, you took time. What took you so long to decide?
It was not about him. It was about whether I was ready to commit to a relationship. Because I’d been in several relationships before and many times my trust was broken. When I met Ranveer, I was exhausted. I had been constantly in and out of relationships. I just wanted to be alone for some time. I’ve never casually dated anyone. I’ve been in relationships since I was13. (Grins) Now that I’m married I can say this. Whether it was one year, two years or three years, they were always proper relationships. It was always if you like someone you give it your hundred per cent. So when this relationship, which I was in ended in 2012, I was like I’m done. I wanted to try out this concept of casual dating. I just did not want to be answerable to anyone. When Ranveer and I met in 2012, I told him I realise there’s a connection between us. I really like you but I want to keep it open. I don’t want to commit. If I get attracted to different people I’m going to do my thing. But nothing happened. I couldn’t get myself to do any of that. At the same time, I did not emotionally invest in this relationship. But now when I look back, six months into it I was pretty much emotionally invested in us. After that, it was when do we get married? I was never unsure about him. Of course, in a six-year long relationship, you go through your ups and downs but we never broke up. There was no major fight or saying let’s take time off and figure this out. We’ve fought; we’ve had our ups and downs. But we stuck through all of that. We got engaged four years ago.
You said your trust has been broken multiple times. Did it make you cynical?
Yes, it did. But marriage has changed it. When you give your 100 per cent to a relationship and your heart is broken not once but repeatedly, it scars you for life. It has a negative impact on your later relationships. It was difficult for Ranveer, who had to deal with it. The only reason we have come out of it successfully is because of him. I didn’t give up on the idea of love but I had my insecurities. You start doubting even a genuine action of the other person. Because you’re so scared it’s going to happen to you again. It has taken a lot of effort on his part and a lot of counselling sessions on my part to understand that every person and every relationship is different. I had to make Ranveer understand that I was reacting in that manner because of certain incidents that happened in my life. He was extremely patient with me through all my doubts, my insecurities. He constantly reassured me.
Do you never check Ranveer’s phone?
I don’t need to.
Ranveer mentioned that the wedding was organised by you. When was the first time you thought of a wedding?
Ever since I was five years old. Every girl dreams about it. But I thought of marrying him after Padmaavat. We knew it was going to happen, it was just a matter of time. When the film released, it just felt correct. He was of course, ready but had already committed to a few projects. He wasn’t sure if he’d be able to take out the time. But he made it work.
Is it true that Ranveer wanted you to have the wedding you dreamt of?
That’s him. Also, he didn’t have the time to organise the wedding. Honestly, I wouldn’t have liked any interruptions. It’s so much easier if just one person made the decisions and moves ahead. But certain things have to be planned with the family and we did that.
What is your equation with Ranveer’s family?
It’s interesting. For his father, I’m like a daughter. But for his mom, I’m like a friend, a beti also. I can tell her my deepest darkest secrets. It’s stupid to explain because I can’t even put it into words. There’s nothing that I have to keep from them. They are like my parents now, they are my family. Uncle is emotional, he breaks down easily. Mum’s an absolute chiller. Like she will party with the youngsters till eight in the morning.
What are the things that we don’t know about your wedding?
People said the pictures looked magical and that’s what the wedding was - magical. There’s not one thing that went wrong. It was raining in Italy. But on the morning of November 13, when I was getting my Mehendi done the sun came out. Suddenly, it was a clear blue sky.
Were you apprehensive about the rain on your wedding?
No, I wasn’t. Because we believed that it’d be magical. It’s all about the energy we put in. It was raining on the night of November 12 too. We had a formal sit down dinner that night. But at no point did the weather disturb. We needed clear weather on the 13th, 14th and 15th of November. That happened. On the 16th, when people started leaving it started raining again.
Which is that one memory from your wedding that’ll stay with you forever?
There are so many memorable moments. My mother doing the kanyadaan. Also that moment on November 13, when I was getting my Mehendi done and the sun came out. Ranveer and I have a connection with the sun, we love the sun. Everything was perfect. Not one bag got misplaced, no one missed a flight, it was all in place. On November 15, after the Anand Karaj ceremony was over, there was one boat to take Ranveer and me back to the hotel from the venue. The sun was setting… it was the first time after our marriage that we were alone. We listened to our favourite song on full volume and literally rode into the sunset.
Right after you Priyanka Chopra got married. What do you have to say about that?
She’s also someone, who has craved stability in a relationship. I don’t know Nick (Jonas) that well but you can tell that she feels settled. Whatever little I know of her, I know these things were important to her. Like to find love, to find a person who gives it his hundred per cent, who gives the stability you look for in a relationship. She has craved it. I’m thrilled she’s found it. It’s been a rollercoaster for her as well.
What’s the one thing that you’ll never compromise on in marriage?
Individuality. Had you asked me this before I got married or if I was with someone else, I’d have probably said honesty or infidelity. But it doesn’t come up anymore. If one can find a beautiful balance between understanding and respecting one another and at the same time being who you are, it’ll be beautiful. That’s what this journey will be.
What’s the best thing that Ranveer has told you so far?
He says a lot of things. Honestly, he’s generous with words. That’s one of the things that made me realise why I love him. Some years ago, when I was making more money than him, he was okay with it. It was evident not only in what he told me, even in his actions. Also, the fact that he has never held back what he thinks of me. Recently, he said in the Filmfare interview that I keep him grounded, that I keep him rooted. That’s a nice thing to say and know.
Its been 11 years of ‘Om Santo Om’. How much relevant is ‘ek chutki sindur ka kimaat’ in your life now?
Did Ranveer’s mother give you any tips to handle him?
What is your feeling after getting married to Ranveer?
When was the first time you met Ranveer?
When was the first time you felt Ranveer was someone special?
When did you had your first date with Ranveer?
How instrumental was Sanjay Leela Bhansali in making the ‘jodi’ of you and Ranveer?
At which point did you realize that you need to speak about your depression?
When was the first time you realized that you want to share the rest of your life with Ranveer?
How is Ranveer as a husband?
It would be great if you could share some memories of your wedding proposal?
Did you have a dream wedding in mind while you were planning your wedding out?
Which was your favorite ceremony in your entire wedding?
Can we have a rapid-fire round?
Do you think Ranveer Singh is the man who is meant for the Cannes film festival?
The success of the Padmavathi positions you as the most powerful woman in Bollywood. So what do you want to do with this power?
To be honest, it’s never been about ‘now what?’. Whatever I feel, I felt even some years ago — whatever you do, do it with some purpose and with the intention to bring about some change, to impact people’s lives with happiness and positivity, maybe some amount of guidance. With what I do, I get to learn a lot. Maybe by speaking about my journey or my experiences or the films that I do, if I’m able to empower people, that would be my intention, it’s always been my intention. The success of the film further amplifies that platform.
Padmavathi was so vilified for its own gender politics. Did it give you any other perspective?
No, it didn’t give me any other perspective. The intention of doing Padmaavat was for people to realise that there was a woman with that sort of spirit and fearlessness. It was a story that needed to be told now. And for me, this was the way. There could be other ways that people look at it, but for me it was this.
how do you make sure that your roles have the bigness — that they have the meat and the heft?
I think they have to be meaningful. Piku was a small film, but it had meaning, it had depth. I need to find that connect. It’s not literally about how big or small the film is.
Do you consider budget of the film when choosing a project?
DP: It’s most definitely not budget-related. Otherwise I wouldn’t have done Finding Fanny, for example. I don’t think anything changes. In my humble opinion, that’s the mistake a lot of people make — with more success comes more responsibility, and so you have to start changing things in your life. But I look at it the other way, which is that you are where you are because of certain things that you’ve done or believed in. Such as to remember your roots, and to keep reminding yourself of why you are here, and what are those decisions or thoughts or people who have helped you get to where you are. That’s the way I look at it.
Is there any sense of ‘now I can’t do this’?
No. No, why would there be?
Do you believe in 'Number one" position and all that?
No. No. It’s important for me to always remember, what is it that I did that brought me here? If I had to sum it up in one line, it would be to not forget my roots, and I mean that in so many ways. In my personal life, in my professional life, in so many ways, that line just sums up everything.
Do you see yourself as an artist or as a brand?
As an artist, I think. And I hope that doesn’t change. While I think people’s perception is changing, or has changed — again, that brings me back to my earlier point. Which is that if people perceive me a certain way or can attribute certain things to me because of the work that I’ve done, it’s because of being an artist. That’s never going to change. And that’s inherently who I am. And that’s the foundation, you don’t forget that
Imtiaz said once that you were actually shy and you used performance to get over your personal shyness. Is it true?
I don’t know. He said that I used to be a very shy person, which I still am. Maybe I’m just better equipped today to handle it. But I’m inherently a shy and awkward person. That’s how I describe myself.
Have you become less shy as you mature as an actor at least in front of the camera?
In front of the camera, yes. I think one of the biggest mistakes that I made was that because I was shy off-screen, I’d bring that on-screen. I carried that consciousness in front of the camera for a very long time. Directors who realised I was shy in front of the camera and understood how to break that, did break it. Such as with Imtiaz Ali in Love Aaj Kal. But on my own, I think I realised it during Cocktail and changed it after that. I was more free in front of the camera, I was able to engage and be a different person, and not be inhibited in front of the camera.
How do you carry yourself?
More than inhibited, I’d say that while I am shy and while I am awkward, I think I’ve become better with it over the years. But I think a lot of it has to do with the way I’ve been brought up. You’ve met my parents. There’s a certain way they speak and a certain way they carry themselves; and that’s the way they’ve brought up my sister and me as well. To say it simply, I don’t know any other way of being.
After being in industry for 10 years, is your process of finding a script or a character you love still the same?
Yes, it’s the same. The process is the same, because it’s always been instinct. I think the only difference is that earlier I’d be tempted to do films because they just sounded like the right thing to do.
Can success be paralysing in any way? Is there a fear of taking risks as an artist?
If anything, it’s made me feel a lot more confident, it’s made me feel a lot more free. It’s given me the ability to take risks, the ability to express. It doesn’t feel like a burden or like my wings are clipped. I feel empowered, I feel free.
Is it true, if it weren't for actor you would be a homemaker?
Yes, that doesn’t change.
you said you could very easily just walk away from all of this and live a life of happy domesticity. Is that right?
A little bit. It’s too much a part of my life for me to say that I can walk away from it. But I think domesticity, home, parents, family, marriage, children, staying connected, roots — all of that is very important for me, I’d feel very unsettled if I didn’t have that. But I think today I can see how I can be a working wife or a working mother, and still do what I love doing, and do it successfully.
Are You addicted to Instagram?
No. I’m very aware of my thoughts and my feelings, so when I feel I’m going down that route, I will quietly put my phone away and walk away from it, and try and do something more productive, like read or clean in my house.
Time’s Up which is attempting at a systemic level to Fight the discrimination against women in the film industry. Do you think there’s a need for something like that here?
Absolutely. I would definitely endorse that, but I would also think it’s important for it to be gender-neutral.
What are the choices you’re going to be making?
Well, there was this film with Vishal that I was doing, which isn’t happening as of now, but I do feel like there are certain energies that I want to spend in a particular direction as far as films are concerned and I think I’m looking for that.
Do you still want to do a nice, romantic film?
Yes. My brief hasn’t changed; I told you this! I still want to do something that’s meaningful. But I can’t tell you the number of people who’ve come up to me and said, ‘Can you do another Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani?’ And I wish it fell in my lap.
Do you ever talk to Ranveer about his clothes?
Yeah. He does try very hard to seek my approval, but I think in life it’s very important to be honest, and I’m known to not mince my words usually. So…yeah.
Do you still enjoy South Indian food?
My perfect day would be wake up in the morning, have my South Indian breakfast, go down to the gym–I didn’t know there was a World Idli Day! And it was trending for two days! I was so happy. Although I had dosa on Idli Day — I cheated on idli.
In 2017 only one Indian film made it to the Cannes Film Festival. Do you think we need to do anything differently to have more of a cinema presence in Cannes?
You are an established actress in Bollywood. Do you ever look back to see how far you’ve come? How has your journey been so far?
How do you make sure the roles that you play have the power to create the impact you want to make?
Having completed 10 years in the film industry, have your creative instincts changed or is that process of finding a script you love or a character you love still the same?
Have you ever felt that success can be paralysing in any way in terms of the risks you take as an artist?
What are your tips for daily skincare?
In your opinion, how much do cosmetics enhance beauty? Why do you think one should use beauty products?
Do you think being an actor/actress is challenging?
Tell us about your experience overcoming depression. What is your message to the rest of the world, especially to those who do not understand depression?