Deepika Padukone's Chhapaak hit screens today. (Photo: Deepika Padukone/Instagram)
It is not necessary that beautiful people have beautiful minds, but it holds true for Chhapaak actor Deepika Padukone. In this interview, we try to understand the psyche of the most sought-after female star of Bollywood.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
How does it feel being the number one female star of Bollywood today?
It is not something that I think about. It is not a label I wake up thinking of. I think the tag is given to me based on the work that I do, and so that is what I have channelised my energy towards. I wake up every morning thinking who I am as a person, what is it that excites me and what I am seeking. I don’t think about ‘Am I the sexiest person on Earth?’ or ‘Am I the number one actress?’ Those are not the things one wakes up thinking about.
Then what do you think?
I wake up thinking about how I am feeling. I give my body and mind a thought for a second and ask myself how I feel today. Am I energised? Am I tired? Am I feeling low? Irrespective of what I am feeling, acknowledging it is important. And then I go on with my day. I think about who I am and what is it that I want to say through my work. I think about what are the things I believe in and what do I stand for. I wake up thinking about having a pleasant day. I think about impacting someone’s life positively. These are the things that matter to me, and these are the things I think are worth thinking about.
Chhapaak is a heartwarming story. In what ways did you relate to Lakshmi’s/Malti’s story of triumph?
Lakshmi and I have been through something that has impacted our lives in a big way. Of course, you cannot compare depression and acid violence. But both can be equally traumatic but in very different ways. How we have come out of it stronger, how we have chosen to not let it affect us, how we have chosen to make it something positive and impact people’s lives, I feel that is the common thread between the two of us.
Deepika Padukone plays an acid attack victim in Meghna Gulzar's Chhapaak.
I think emotionally we can prepare for a role. We can read and prepare. We can meet the person on whom the movie is based. However, what you go through emotionally between action and cut is something that you are never prepared for. You never know what to expect as you are reacting to the environment you are thrown into. You are reacting to your co-stars that you are engaging with. It is just spontaneous, and as long as you are being honest, you have a good film.
Is it possible that there is a point in an actor’s life where the actor and character meet and match? Does that happen to you?
You see similarities. You find a resemblance. It may not happen every single time, but I feel like you start relating more to stories that resonate with who you are as a person, and what is that you want to say through your work. Those things kind of start merging. And then a Chhapaak comes along, and it doesn’t take very long to say yes to a film like that. In a couple of seconds of reading the script, I knew I wanted to do this because I knew that its heart is in the right place. So, yes, those lines do start blurring.
Deepika Padukone's character in Chhapaak is inspired by Laxmi Agarwal. (Photo: Varinder Chawla)
You are know as an actor who has a voice of her own. This you did in an industry where female actors don’t necessarily have a voice.
It is not so much about me having a voice because it is cool today to have a voice, but I speak about things that I genuinely feel passionate about. Many years ago I pulled up a publication for reporting about my physicality in a certain way. It was way before it was cool to express yourself. Then, I spoke about mental health when nobody else spoke about mental health. So, I have done things and followed through on things that I feel very strongly about, without ever thinking about the repercussions. I genuinely don’t know if it is the right way of going about things, but then I also do not know any other way than just being authentic and honest. I would like to continue being that.
Has your motivation to do films changed since the time you started your career?
Yes. But that’s also because of my evolution. I feel everyone evolves. My choices are a reflection of my growth.