Mumbai,Tushar Joshi: Deepika Padukone on yet another hattrick of winning films, her biggest critic and her secret for choosing the best scripts available
She’s owned 2015! There’s no denying the fact that Deepika Padukone has repeated her 2013 success mantra, with Piku, Tamasha and Bajirao Mastani all getting her rave reviews. On the personal front, her mental health foundation Live, Love, Laugh is doing some fantastic work. In a candid chat she shares a recent story of a girl who thanked her for saving her life and talks about her biggest critic! Excerpts from our chat…
Describe 2015 in a word.
Phenomenonal! It’s been a roller-coaster ride, a whirlwind, but more than anything, it has been an incredible year. I couldn’t have asked for a better year. I thought 2013 was special and kept telling myself that. People around me said, “Enjoy 2013 because it will never happen again.” And here I am, sitting again with three very special releases and so many special memories. It’s been a fantastic year.
You’re making interesting choices. Have you mastered the art of choosing the best scripts yet?
If something has happened subconsciously, through the years, I am not aware of it. But my process of choosing scripts has been very simple. When a director narrates a script, if I connect with it, I do it. If I don’t connect with it, I don’t do it. It’s as simple as that. The only thing I don’t do, is listen to anyone else. Eventually the decision is always mine. And I don’t rely on anyone else’s decisions because everything I do has to be my own. Whether its a success or a failure, I believe it has to be my own journey.
Tamasha got great reviews, but did the box-office figures disappoint you?
Honestly, I am not aware of what the numbers should have been like. I don’t get into it and I don’t ever intend to. I don’t get into knowing the budget of a film, how much it was made at, how much it should recover. I have always stayed away from that. So much so, the Friday your film releases and some producer calls or messages me saying, ‘Good collection’, I delete that message. It doesn’t make any sense to me, but the messages which give feedback on my performances I save and cherish. Even socially, you will never see me encouraging conversations that revolve around numbers, whether it is my film or anyone else’s film. It really saddens me to know that this is what we have reduced our films to today. It is really sad that the success is measured by the number of crores a film makes and it’s unfortunate because you cannot put numbers to creative work.
How do you see Ranveer’s evolution as an actor from Ram-Leela to Bajirao Mastani?
He has evolved a lot! I feel in Ram-Leela, he was a little all over the place; I think he was still finding himself. Though he’s a fantastic actor from the word go, I remember when I saw Band Baaja Baaraat. I didn’t know him then. I thought he was a Delhi boy and I remember when I met him for the first time. I asked him, “So have you moved here?” I believed he was from Delhi! And he said ‘I am from Bandra and I live here!’ Then when I worked with him in Ram Leela, I felt he was still fluttering and not so settled and centered, which has happened with Bajirao Mastani. I feel he’s found his groove and come to realise that he’s a certain way on screen and off screen and he flaunts it. When I met him initially, he wasn’t really confident and sure of letting people in on his personality, but now he’s unapologetic.
Who is your biggest critic, mom or dad ?
My sister! They watch all my films, but my sister is very blunt. My mother will still be soft, though in the order it is my mum, my sister and my dad. My dad loves everything I do, my mother and my sister will say it as it is.
You missed working on Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, any regrets ?
See films always belong to people who do them. It doesn’t matter who was offered or who didn’t do it. Thats’ why I talk about films that I have been offered. That’s not what matters, what matters eventually after the film has released is who the film belongs to and it belongs to those who have been a part of it.
If Ranbir had to play Bajirao, how do you think he would fare ?
It would have been very different (thinking)..then all the dynamics would have changed. Mastani would have changed, Kashi too. Even if the same heroines were cast the dynamics would change. Somehow for me when I was offered Bajirao…, it was always Ranveer, but that could also be my bad that I am stereotyping an actor. Though it would be interesting to see Ranbir in a role like this!
You spoke about your depression at the start of the year. Do you think that now people are more open about mental health in our country ?
They were hesitant to talk about it earlier, I don’t think they are now. I was on a flight recently from Amritsar to Delhi and there was a lady travelling with her new born adorable baby. Halfway through the flight we had even forgotten there is a child, because the child was so quiet and I remember that few people while boarding were sceptical thinking ‘oh God there is a child on the flight’. Anyway, while getting off she wanted to take a picture with me and she mentioned that she had the baby through surrogacy, and she said it so casually, I was like wow we have come a long way.
Tell me about your foundation Live, Love, Laugh ?
I am hoping that one day mental health will no longer be a taboo subject. A couple of years ago we wouldn’t talk about surrogacy and today we do! One in every four people is suffering mental health issues silently and I think a large part of my recovery was the fact that I found the strength to talk about it, so that’s half the recovery already. I get thousands of emails and letters everyday, I have a message on my phone about a girl who claims that I have saved her life and that’s all I wanted when I spoke out about my depression. Initially, people assumed it was an endorsement for a pharmaceutical company, then some people said I was doing it for the publicity of a movie, but now when I get these kind of messages it’s all worth it. It’s all I ever wanted to do with my foundation. Help people.