Deepika Padukone’s success saga
Deepika Padukone is young, successful and a woman at the top of her game. She tells us how she handles success and what got her there in the first place.
The day we try to schedule our interview, Deepika Padukone’s manager informs me that her diary is packed. Days before leaving for a muchdeserved and well-earned winter vacation, the current ‘golden girl’ of Bollywood is trying to fit in this interview in between brand shoots, costume changes, script readings and meetings with directors.
Lots Of Work, Some Play
A family holiday in the Maldives is just the break Deepika needed to let the tremendous success of 2013 filter in-a year that started with the multi-starrer action film Race 2 and saw her steady rise to the Bollywood Big League. One hit followed another: Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani was followed by Chennai Express and then came Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, which won her unanimous praise. “I did work at an abnormal pace, juggling three films at a time, and I think the payback has been worth it,” says Deepika looking back at 2013. Hard work, discipline and being grounded are the pillars on which she has steadily built her success. A fairytale debut with Shah Rukh Khan in Om Shanti Om (2007) was followed by a few years when films such as Chandni Chowk to China, Karthik Calling Karthik and Lafangey Parindey failed to connect with audiences.
Smiling Through It
People have described her as patient and calm; she doesn’t concur. “This profession is very stressful and though I usually absorb the pressure, there are times when I do try and let it out.” But she’s not one to yell and scream when the stress is overpowering. “If I am really annoyed with someone, I get snappy and irritable with him or her,” she says. She credits her upbringing and the values instilled by parents, Prakash and Ujjala Padukone, for keeping her rooted, and acknowledges that sports has given her the tools for making it as an outsider in an exigent industry. “I think my sporting background and training have been the biggest life skills that have helped me in terms of discipline in my profession,” says the former national level badminton player and state level baseball player. “Waking up early, being on time for school or for training and matches brings in a discipline that helps you handle success and failure.” In fact, in the past she has said that being a sports person has helped her become the person she is.
An enviable combination of classic looks and an athletic frame, Deepika’s fitness mantra is ‘know your body type and build a little exercise into your daily routine’, while her style mantra is ‘simple and classic with minimal accessories.’ Her style icon Audrey Hepburn would approve! Starting off as a model, then ‘graduating’ to being a Bollywood star over the last six years, with growing on-screen self-assurance, she has found sartorial confidence off-screen too. Once favouring classic silhouettes, her outfits are now touched by more than a hint of playfulness. Her beauty and wellness regimen is simple: eat right, drink plenty of water and sleep well. “As a race, we are blessed with good genes and great skin. My mother never allowed us to do anything much with our skin. At the most I would use lipstick and what was then known as ‘rouge’.” Today she ensures she hydrates her skin, uses an SPF-cream to guard against the sun and cleanses her skin, removing all make-up at the end of the day. The one thing she looks forward to when she can finally claim some me-time is to catch up with chores at home. “I find clearing up the house therapeutic,” she says. She sleeps in, enjoys a big South Indian breakfast with filter coffee, cooks and gets a massage, to wind down.
The new year brings a host of new films for Deepika: Kochadaiiyaan with Rajnikanth, Homi Adajania’s Finding Fanny, Farah Khan’s Happy New Year with Shahrukh Khan. She will be shooting Imtiaz Ali’s next too. Do the lessons of the past influence her behaviour in the present? “You become the person you are because of the mistakes you make. You fall down; get up, dust yourself off and say this is not something you are going to do again. But silly humans that we are, we make the same mistakes over and over again. I like to have my own life experiences.
I am curious and want to learn from my own mistakes and experiences.”
Cocktail and Finding Fanny director Adajania believes that what distinguishes her from her peers is her understanding of “the importance of being significant in the moment. I genuinely believe this is one of her biggest strengths. She’s the diva where she is expected to be the diva and is the most down-to-earth team player when that is expected of her.” It is this adaptability, and the ability to be significant in every situation thrown at her that, Adajania says, is what “keeps Deepika relevant”.
Her admission that she is a risk-taker is seconded by Adajania. “Under that graceful, dignified air she literally glides around with, there’s an adventurous, mad, fun-loving hog! She can eat most people under the table, loves adventure sports and works hard at keeping fit. We dived with great white sharks and sky-dived out of a plane together and I remember her telling me that she wouldn’t have done it if it did not scare her. Deepika enjoys embracing her fears,” he says.
In the last couple of years, she has clocked in a spate of hits that leave her closest competitors far behind. She says it’s because she’s become more familiar with her craft, more comfortable in front of the camera and also understands herself better as a person. “These are the factors that have made me the person I am today.
“Deepika’s story is not one of a turnaround. I didn’t have to slim her down. Rather it’s a story of further enhancement. Deepika does not take her body for granted. She is disciplined and dedicated and works towards staying glorious!” says consulting nutritionist Pooja Makhija. The diet plans Makhija designs vary according to Deepika’s schedule and needs, but generally, she advises her to eat every two hours.
ON WAKING UP: One fruit within an hour of waking up
POST WORKOUT-BREAKFAST: 4-5 egg whites+bread or 1 bowl roti/upma/poha
AFTER TWO HOURS: 1 glass vegetable juice
LUNCH: 2 rotis or 1 bowl rice, 1 bowl dal, 1 bowl vegetables and 1 cup yoghurt
2 HOURS LATER: 1 cup coffee and 1-2 biscuits
AFTER ANOTHER 2 HOURS: 1 fruit
EVENING SNACK (IF REQUIRED): 1 bowl bhel or 1 open vegetable sandwich
DINNER: 1-1 ï¿½ rotis, 1 piece chicken or fish, 1 bowl vegetables and salad
AFTER DINNER (IF REQUIRED): 1 fruit or 1 glass warm milk
Deepika’s guilty secrets
1. When it comes to shopping, I splurge on shoes.
2. I have such an OCD about organising my things that I sometimes drive myself crazy. But it can also be very satisfying when everything is in place.
3. I am a big foodie and have no sense of good food and bad food. I can eat absolutely anything!
4. My weakness is dessert and too much indulgence makes me gain weight.
Taking Fitness Up A Notch
Deepika’s fitness trainer, Yasmin Karachiwala, had designed a functional training routine incorporating Pilates, when Deepika was prepping for Cocktail. Now her routine focusses solely on Pilates, which she does up to six times a week. In fact, in order to get into shape for Happy New Year, Karachiwala accompanied her to the shoot in Dubai and trained her in the hotel gym. “Pilates works wonders on her lean and slender body,” says Karachiwala. For a more challenging routine, she uses equipment such as reformer, Cadillac, wunda chair and mat, TRX, core align and core fitness roller and the step barrel. “Deepika often works out before a shoot not because she thinks she might look fat, but because she feels better when she works out,” adds Karachiwala.