There’s an interesting personal growth that takes place during a film shoot. In the world of filmmaking we follow our instincts, sleep at odd hours, and often find ourselves exposed and vulnerable as we experience extreme emotions. We live in the moment because there is no definite pattern to this process. And this is what makes it so appealing — the fact that there are so many unknowns on this unpredictable and exciting journey. I had the pleasure of watching Deepika’s metamorphosis while we were filming Cocktail. We knew that once we had established a sense of trust between us, I could channel her whole gamut of emotions, opinions, affectations and she would unhesitatingly and bravely present them. I know the difficulties she confronted but saw how she unrelentingly immersed herself into the character. This is what brought about Deepika’s turnaround, re-invention or whatever people may refer to it as. And, once this happened, there has been no turning back, for Deepika has got a glimpse of all that she is capable of.
It became apparent that behind the gorgeous exterior, the dimples, the open, friendly demeanour, lies a steely-eyed professional, someone perfectly aware of her qualities, attributes and failings. This is someone who lives her life smartly and glides effortlessly through the myriad roles she has played as a top model, and now as a commercially successful actor. Behind and under everything, is that good, solid common sense — rare in someone so young, or one who has tasted success early in life. In this dodgy showbiz world, fraught with stress, insecurities, and fragile egos, it is this earthy quality that lingers and cuts through all the crap.
Perhaps, it is her sports lineage that accounts for this unwavering, committed, gritty professionalism; she is someone who understands that life is as competitive as any sport, and one must play it smartly, fairly, with a desire to do the best you can, whether you win or lose. With that attitude, it is not surprising that she is winning at the moment. There will be several bad days, weeks at times, but you just grin, not lose sight of the overall game, and soldier on.
I have worked with her, partied with her, and all this time spent has only reinforced the belief that here is someone with a genuine star quality, behind camera and off it. This industry can shake you up, throw your world upside down, rattle the breath out of your body, f*#k up your mind. Only the strongest survive. There are several of those, the strong survivors, but not many achieve it with grace and equanimity, qualities that make Deepika stand out head and shoulders above the rest.
Today she is hungrier than ever to hone her craft. She doesn’t consider the “top” to be a place one reaches — it is a place that should always be just out of reach. And today, as a director, I enjoy the favour of Deepika’s trust, but more exciting than anything is the undiscovered potential that she has, still waiting to be revealed and celebrated.
Homi Adajania is a filmmaker and has directed Deepika Padukone in Cocktail in 2012 and in 2014’s Finding Fanny.