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Racing ahead

Pukaar Magazine catches up with one of Bollywood’s most in demand actresses – Deepika Padukone. From the sets of her forthcoming project Chennai Express, she talks movies, love and Ranbir Kapoor. 

She made her Bollywood debut in 2007 opposite one of the biggest actors in the industry – Shah Rukh Khan. After winning over hearts with her dazzling smile in the reincarnation drama Om Shanti Om, she has become one of the most popular female Indian faces on the big screen.

When we caught up with the former model, she was busy shooting in a remote area called Wai, near Panchgani (around a 4-hour drive from Mumbai) for Rohit Shetty’s forthcoming film Chennai Express opposite Shah Rukh Khan. Unable to reveal much about the film at this current time, all she could reveal was that she is playing the role of a South Indian girl.

Although she’s had some steady film releases since stepping foot in to the Indian film industry, it seems like this year is going to be her biggest so far. Not only is she working with the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, but she also has a release with former flame and rising superstar Ranbir Kapoor towards the end of May titled Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, and she is busy shooting with critically acclaimed director Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Ram Leela opposite Ranvir Singh.

“I do feel like for the first time so much work has come together,” she said. “It has definitely been slightly hectic but I’m enjoying every moment of it because I get to be on a film set every single day and I hope by the end of this year all the hard work pays off.”

It’s never easy working with your ex, however talking about Ranbir, Deepika said: “I always admired him as an actor. He is extremely effortless and natural and it’s great. In Bachna Ae Haseeno we just had a couple of days of work together and I believe Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani was the right film for the both of us to come together in a proper full film.”

It is also the first time she is working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali. “With someone like Sanjay you need to completely switch off and just surrender yourself to him because he’s someone who is constantly thinking on the spot and changing things around a lot. The way he directs is based on his gut instinct and the way he feels at that point of time on that particular day,” she said.

Photo credit: Prasad Naik

She has had some successful pairings with various actors, however her most successful jodi (pairing) remains with Saif Ali Khan. The duo have delivered consecutive hits with the likes of Love Aaj Kal, Aarakshan, Cocktail and Race 2. When asked what the secret to their pairing is, she replied: “There’s no secret honestly, I really wish there was a secret for great on screen chemistry but honestly there isn’t. I’ve always said you can’t create chemistry between two people. A lot of the chemistry is in the way the script is or the way the lines are written or the way the director manages to get his actors to perform with each other.”

While some of her contemporaries hail from industry families, Deepika reveals that this doesn’t faze her. “I think everyone has their own journey and for me, I don’t know if being from a non-film background has been an advantage or disadvantage. I don’t look at it like that because at the end of the day, what matters is my drive, my dedication, my focus and my talent.

“There are a lot of people who are in the film industry who haven’t really been able to do much with their careers and similarly there are a lot of non-film people who have come in and achieved a lot for themselves, Shah Rukh Khan for example. It doesn’t really matter where you come from as long as you believe in yourself and you work hard.”

With her dad being a professional badminton player, Deepika was always into sports from a young age. Being a national level badminton player too, she admits she didn’t watch too many movies and grew up on a diet of sports, idolizing people from this profession. Though she admires actresses like Hema Malini and Sri Devi her real idol is her dad, who she describes as ‘an example of a great sportsman and more importantly an amazing human being’.

With sports playing such an important role in her life it is no wonder that she has such a fabulous figure. ‘Do you spend hours in the gym?’ we asked. “It has a lot to do with my genes but also the fact that I was an athlete when I was really young so I’ve always been into physical fitness. Whether its playing a sport or going to the gym I like to be active physically. Like other women I do put on weight but I understand and listen to my body. Of course I indulge, we all have our moments of weakness when you just want to dig into a massive dessert but it’s about finding the right balance.”

And before we let her go we couldn’t not ask the question on everyone’s mind. Is she single? And the answer is yes! But when asked what qualities she looks for in her ideal man, Deepika answered: “ I think women very often have a tendency to make a list like they’re going grocery shopping; my man has to be this tall, dark, handsome and have a great sense of humour. But I don’t think relationships work like that, you don’t always get what you want. For me what is most important is compatibility and respecting each other. The key is to be yourself and be friends with each other first anything else.”

Her final message was for her international fans and she said: “I don’t really get a chance to interact with my international fans very often but I think Twitter and Facebook is a great way to keep in touch. Yes, I may not be there physically, but I do feel the love so thank you all for that.”

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