The Journey of Deepika Padukone: Bridging Athletic Discipline with Cinematic Craftsmanship, Reflecting on Influences, Commitments, and Humility.

The Journey of Deepika Padukone: Bridging Athletic Discipline with Cinematic Craftsmanship, Reflecting on Influences, Commitments, and Humility.

Deepika Padukone, Member of the Feature Films Jury © Maxence Parey / FDC

The major Indian star Deepika Padukone makes both independent films and big blockbusters in her home country. The former badminton champion is taking on a new role today, as a member of the Feature Film Jury. In this interview, she discusses the influence of her past as an athlete on her filmography and talks about, in complete modesty, her work as an actress.

How do you see your role in the Jury?

I feel I am in film school, like going back to University. I am getting the opportunity to learn from my elders, from people I admire, as I am the youngest in the Jury. We are so blessed to have such a diverse Jury. And everyone respects each other’s decisions. As for Vincent Lindon, we couldn’t imagine a better leader.

What are you working on right now?

I just had a feature film released on Amazon called Gehraiyaan and I finished a project called Pathaan (Pathan) from the director Siddharth Anand, with the actor Shahrukh Khan as the main lead. I am also working on a project which is a Pan-Indian movie which we are making in multiple languages from a director called Nag Ashwin, with a huge Indian superstar called Prabhas. We are also working with Amitabh Bachchan on the Indian adaptation of The Intern from 2015, which starred Anne Hathaway and Robert de Niro.

When was that decisive moment when you chose to focus on acting over your sports career? 

I played sports at a high level until I was 16. And as an athlete you live a very disciplined life so we didn’t watch too many movies at home. But every time I watched a movie, I felt a connection. I would see the leading women in the movies and a voice inside me kept saying: “That is where I belong.” But I hadn’t done anything to pursue that. And at 16, I said to myself: “that’s the age in your life where you decide what you want to do with it and to move forward, to decide what you want to do professionally.”

Does your former career as an athlete influence the way you act? 

I put everything of my being an athlete in my acting. I still work like one and I don’t think I would be the person I am today without being one. I definitely want to introduce my future children to sport as it has a huge influence in my life. The dedication, the discipline, the focus, the determination, how to handle success and failure, how to view competition, how to learn from your mistakes… patience is very important, as filmmaking requires a huge amount of patience.

“I would tell anyone who is reading this interview: play a sport, even if you are in the creative business, it sets you apart in a very different way.”

Did you know how you were going to go about this career change?

No. I just had a dream in my eyes and the desire in my heart. The power of cinema convinced me that it was what I wanted to do. Everything else was unknown, all I had were my dreams and the support of my parents. But we didn’t know where to begin. I started getting offered a lot of advertising and one director saw me, Farah Khan, and they wanted a fresh face for her film called Om Shanti Om. They just straight away put me in what became one of the most iconic movies of Indian cinema. Without auditioning me, they gave me a double role, so that movie and that moment changed my life. It was a blur, I was 19 when I started, the movie was released when I was 21 and she held my hand through the process. After that I learnt with every movie.

How do you experience this immense notoriety on social networks?

I look at all of that with gratitude but at the same time I look at it as a byproduct of what I do. I have these fans and all this love that comes to me because of what I do so I am grateful for that. But at the end of the day you need to keep reminding yourself of why you are here and where you come from and keep your head down and focusing on the craft.

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