Deepika Padukone, Indian actress and the highest-paid actress in India, has spoken about her desire to make a global impact while still being rooted in her country. She is well-known as the Queen of Bollywood, having appeared in over 30 films and generated almost $350 million in global box-office revenues. Despite the cut-throat nature of Bollywood, known for valuing youth and looking for the next new thing, Padukone’s 16-year career has been an exception, which she believes is due to India’s growing influence in the world.
The rise of smartphones, streaming services and social media has helped to find new audiences for India’s century-old film industry, which tells around 1500 stories a year on the screen. Meanwhile, Netflix and Amazon are keen to create content for a vast South Asian viewership of nearly 2 billion people around the world. However, they are also interested in content beyond Bollywood especially when Telugu-language films like Bahubali and RRR have become commercially successful.
As India’s influence extends globally, Padukone hopes to continue making an impact while staying true to her roots. “My mission has always been to make a global impact while still being rooted in my country,” she said during a break from shooting India’s first aerial-action film, Fighter. However, tensions simmer under the surface as the right-leaning Indian government monitors the stories India tells about itself on celluloid.
Deepika Padukone, is a quiet trailblazer who makes her own rules, all the while representing the feminine ideal that Bollywood adores. She has emerged from the hopes and dreams of modern Indian women, someone with the utmost freedom to choose how she lives, works, and rests.
Growing up in Bangalore during India’s economic liberalization, Padukone is a “typical Bangalore girl,” someone with the world at their fingertips, says her agent, Vijay Subramaniam. Now a globally recognized name, Padukone regularly wows audiences on the red carpet and is the first Indian brand ambassador for luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Cartier.
At a recent photoshoot, Padukone arrived early with her entourage, including four bodyguards, two agents, two personal photographers, a stylist, makeup and hair artists, and a few more assistants. She poses effortlessly for the camera while her personally curated playlist blasts in the background.
After the shoot, we joined Padukone at the Taj Lands End hotel, where she wanted to gaze at the Arabian Sea while we chatted. While her life is currently a lot, she feels fulfilled and is trying to figure out what’s next. “I didn’t have a game plan for how to get here, but I didn’t see failure on my vision board,” she says.
However, despite being a global icon, Padukone remains grounded and committed to her Indian heritage. “This is India’s moment,” she says. “So how can I marry the best of the East and the West?” In her quest to stay true to her roots, Padukone became the voice of “Naatu Naatu,” the Oscar-winning Best Original Song from the movie RRR.
Through her success, Padukone represents the ideals of modern Indian women, someone confident and free, who can choose their own path in life. As she contemplates her next move, one thing is sure: Padukone will continue to inspire and uplift those around her. “I am going to focus on projects that resonate with me. It’s more about putting out good creative content than about anything else.”
Deepika Padukone: From Outsider to Bollywood Superstar
Deepika Padukone’s rise to fame in Bollywood has been anything but smooth. An outsider to the industry, Padukone has managed to defy the odds and establish herself as one of the most sought-after actresses in Hindi cinema. Her journey began with her debut film, Om Shanti Om, a tribute to the golden age of Bollywood. Paired with superstar Shah Rukh Khan, Padukone managed to hold her own and make a mark in the industry.
However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Padukone after her debut. While critics and audiences alike showered her with praise for her performance in Om Shanti Om, her subsequent films failed to match the success of her debut. Critics began to view her acting as mediocre at best, and her choices were scrutinized.
Despite the criticism, Padukone remained undeterred. She acknowledged her mistakes and recognized that she was still figuring out her way in the industry. Speaking about her early years in Bollywood, Padukone said, “in those years is this girl who was touted as the next big thing, but actually, she was only just figuring her way out.”
Padukone’s resilience paid off, as she continued to work hard and take on challenging roles. Her performances in films like Cocktail, Chennai Express, and Bajirao Mastani garnered critical acclaim, cementing her status as a leading lady in Bollywood. She even ventured into Hollywood with her role in xXx: Return of Xander Cage.
Her journey to stardom has not been without its challenges, however. As an outsider to the industry, Padukone faced constant scrutiny over her acting, appearance, and personal life. In particular, the pervasive issue of nepotism in Bollywood has sparked heated debate in recent years, with many insiders acknowledging the inherent advantage that celebrity children have in the industry.
Despite the challenges, Padukone remains firm in her commitment to her craft. She has proved time and again that talent and hard work can overcome even the toughest obstacles. As her co-star and collaborator Shah Rukh Khan put it, working with Padukone is like “working with family.”
Deepika Padukone,has been making strides both in India and internationally through her acting career and social activism. While she has faced backlash for her political views and controversial film roles, she remains steadfast in her mission to push boundaries and elevate Indian cinema on a global stage.
Padukone’s evolution as an actress has been praised by Hindi film critic Anupama Chopra, who notes that her breakthrough roles in films like “Cocktail,” “Chennai Express,” and “Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram Leela” led to her unforgettable performance in “Piku,” where she showcased her comedic skills and broke away from typical Bollywood stereotypes.
In 2017, Padukone made her Hollywood debut in “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” alongside Vin Diesel, a step that allowed her to push different boundaries and explore new opportunities. Reflecting on her experience, she admits that acting in English for the first time was strange but ultimately rewarding.
Despite her success, Padukone has also faced fierce opposition from conservative Hindu nationalists who have taken issue with her film roles and political views. For instance, her starring role in the 2018 film “Padmaavat,” which depicted the relationship between a Hindu queen and Muslim Sultan, led to rumors of a love scene between the two characters and sparked violent protests from Hindu vigilantes. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party even offered a bounty of $1.5 million for her beheading, and local police detained the official responsible.
In 2020, Padukone made headlines when she stood silently at a student protest against an anti-Muslim citizenship law at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University. While Bollywood stars traditionally do not speak up or protest, her actions were a rare example of a public figure calling out the Indian government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Padukone has chosen to remain silent about these controversies and continues to take on controversial film roles, including the part of a Pakistani spy in her upcoming film “Pathaan.” Despite facing constant political backlash, she takes a minimalist approach to the controversy, saying, “I don’t know if I’m supposed to feel something about it. But the truth is, I don’t feel anything about it.”
While Bollywood has faced criticism for its storytelling and content, Padukone believes that India needs to focus on making better Hindi cinema that connects with the rest of the country. She has served on the eight-member jury of the 75th Cannes Film Festival and has been vocal about the need to showcase more Indian films on a global stage. She notes that Hindi cinema has evolved, but there is still much work to be done, and more diverse content needs to be recognized.
Padukone believes that India’s movie industry is not limited to Hindi films and wants to see more recognition for Indian films on a global level. She hopes that the recognition of more diverse content will inspire India’s film industry to elevate its storytelling and push the boundaries of what is expected from Hindi cinema.
“I don’t think we should be happy with one Oscar for a song and one Oscar for a documentary,” Padukone says. “I hope we can look at this as the beginning of an opportunity.”
Padukone has been open about her struggles with depression and founded the Live Love Laugh foundation to raise awareness and support for mental health resources. Her actions have sparked conversation about mental health across India, where an estimated 56 million people suffer from depression. Padukone is grateful for the support she has received from fans and is committed to staying grounded and true to herself. Her husband, Ranveer Singh, is a fellow actor who supports her dreams and ambitions.
In 2015, Padukone shocked the public when she publicly shared her experience with depression, although she was at the height of her career. By speaking out, she knew she was taking a risk with her job security and reputation. “But when I spoke about it, it just felt extremely liberating,” she says. It led her to create the Live Love Laugh Foundation which is operated by her sister, and it is aimed to create awareness about mental health in India.
Her actions have had an enormous impact on her fans in India, where mental health services are in short supply. “A lot of other celebrities have spoken about [mental health] since then, but more importantly, a lot of non-celebrities have also spoken about it,” says Anisha, Padukone’s sister. “This is an illness that doesn’t discriminate.” Her honesty and authenticity have made Padukone one of the most popular stars in India.
Besides acting, Padukone has launched her own cosmetic brand, 82°E, out of the desire to talk about self-care more broadly. She is thrilled to be able to give back to her fans and support them as they go through their mental health struggles. “The beautiful part is that millions of them will probably never meet me, but they’re still on the journey of life with me,” she says. “They understand my body language, my expressions, my silences.”
Despite her success, Padukone is committed to staying true to herself. She believes that honesty and authenticity are vital to maintaining a healthy mind and staying grounded. “I will also give myself a little bit of credit that, for whatever reason, I’ve been able to keep myself grounded,” she says. She credits her husband, fellow actor Ranveer Singh, for helping her stay true to herself.
Singh is known for his quirky personality and sense of humour. He often plays pranks on his co-stars and has been known to pose nude for photoshoots. He also supports his wife in everything she does. The couple just returned from a holiday in Bhutan, where they spent their time sightseeing, walking and enjoying local cuisine. Padukone is grateful for their time together, saying, “With him, I am my most vulnerable self.”
Indian actress and style icon Deepika Padukone has become a major force in the fashion industry, endorsing brands from Levi’s to Louis Vuitton and generating millions of dollars in media impact value through her social media presence. Her 2018 wedding, where she married fellow actor Ranveer Singh in a lavish ceremony, has also had a major impact on the Indian wedding market, inspiring other couples and cementing her status as a fashion icon. The couple’s nuptials remain one of the most popular posts on Instagram, with wedding aesthetics in India estimated to be worth around $50 billion.
Padukone’s star power has made her a valuable asset for fashion brands looking to break into the growing Indian market, and she has helped brands like Louis Vuitton and Dior to connect with Indian consumers. Dior recently held its first official show in the country, near the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, signalling the brand’s recognition of the potential of the Indian market. In addition to luxury brands, India is also becoming a major market for apparel and footwear, with the industry predicted to be worth over $83 billion by 2025.
Padukone acknowledges the rich heritage of India, but also recognises the emergence of a new and young India. Her stardom places her at the fulcrum of these two Indias, and she is excited by the intersection of tradition and modernity that characterises India today. Her appeal to Indian consumers is indicative of an emerging trend in the fashion industry, with brands increasingly turning to local influencers to connect with local audiences.
As Padukone explains, “There’s the India with our roots, our heritage, our history, but there’s also a new and young India that’s emerging. It’s these two Indias coming together that I find really fascinating at this moment.” Her influence and popularity point to a bright future for the Indian fashion industry, as brands seek to tap into this growing market and connect with Indian consumers. (TIME)