Deepika Padukone is having what Bollywood calls ‘a moment’. I walk into the set
of her next movie that she is filming for in Mehboob Studios, Happy New Year with Shah
Rukh Khan. From a distance I see the leggy beauty in black from head to toe walk into her
personalized vanity van. Something tells me that she owns the place. A lot of people, especially
actors, like it when they’re described as down-to-earth, approachable, and easygoing. But it’s
hard to imagine anyone else embodying these traits as legitimately as Padukone does. She calls
me inside her van and the second I enter, I’m zapped by the sheer beauty of a box room size
sitting area that looks so Parisian. And right there was a mix of Bardot, Antoinette and Chanel
in a white vest and printed black tights. For a second you pause. You want to be the ‘Ram’ of
this ‘Leela’. But such fantasies never come true because a PR is staring right in your eyes and
the timer is already ticking. It’s a beautiful evening and Deepika is just done with the shoot
after Farah Khan called it a wrap for the day. And now, she is ready for my questions. She looks
so stunning that, sitting there with her, you just forget the rest of the world and jump
straight into the beautiful world of this ‘Leela’ Deepika Padukone.
Have you seen a Romeo & Juliet balcony scene in any movie? You guys made it look so cool.
Twisted it and how in Ram-Leela.
Thank you! I’ve only seen Baz Luhrman’s version of Romeo & Juliet. But I was wondering when we
started shooting Ram-Leela – ‘How will we talk about this epic love story?’ But then we
were like – ‘I think the audience should surrender to our world that Sanjay Leela Bhansali is
making.’ Of course, there’s the classic balcony scene and the conflict and many more fictionally
created scenes to resurrect Romeo & Juliet. But many filmmakers have made their versions of this
classic and we feel our version is very unusual given the setting. I can’t imagine anyone in
India pulling it off like Sanjay Leela Bhansali did. There’s poetry in every scene and it was
more of an event of a lifetime for me.
Your movies this year have done more business than most top male actors even. But honestly,
where’s your ego?
I have no ego. People tell me that I am a very grounded person. You just told me that you heard
these qualities about me from various people you met. Having said that, I haven’t got time for a
second to step out and gauge myself. That’s a huge compliment and I think that comes from the
way I’ve been brought up by my parents. More than the success, it’s really about enjoying the
journey and enjoying with the people that I work with, and when you start believing that, you
know that everything else is secondary. Success comes from having a good time and enjoying
yourself and knowing that there’s nothing in the world that I’ll be doing besides acting. I am
in that place right now. In my last two years I’ve sacrificed everything for my work – my food,
my sleep, my social life, my family time. But when you are doing something that you love so
much, the question I ask is – Is it called a Sacrifice?
Music has become so important that all movies this year with 100 crore plus
have had blockbuster songs. Ram-Leela is slowly but surely approaching that mark too.
Not only music but trailers and the posters have become very important for the audience to think
and decide whether they will buy the ticket to the movie or not. I personally feel that the
trailer is the most important because if your trailer is superb and your music isn’t too good it
still works. It can’t the other way around. The audience has become so perceptive in what they
like and don’t. Ram-Leela and Yeh Jawaani… did well from the very time they saw
Has Mr. Modi called you after watching Ram-Leela?
No, he hasn’t called me (laughs). I first went to Ahmedabad to kick-start the promotions of
Ram-Leela. Sanjay had already done the research to the minutest of the details for me.
But I know one thing – I’ve never played a Gujarati girl before. This is the first time and I
loved it. I felt my role was so earthy.
And every step of yours in ‘Nagada Sang Dhol’ is perfect. You must be a ‘garba’
I’ve never played garba in my life and I know how exciting the times are when Navratri is around
the corner. I also have many Gujarati friends but for some reason I’ve never played the
raas-leela. What we’ve done in Ram-Leela is a folk kind of garba and not the usual
commercial ones you get to see these days.
I know it’s a clichÃ© one but pick – Ranbir or Ranveer?
Ranbir and Ranveer are two diametrically opposite people. Both share mad energy but the roles
that I’ve done with each of them are distinctive and can’t be compared. Naina and Leela are also
unusual. But the fact that Naina and Bunny’s love story or Ram and Leela’s love story worked is
because the audience invested in our love stories. They rooted for both my characters. Who is
better – Ranbir and Ranveer? Well, I’ve had a blast working with both of them.
Complete the sentence – Watching a Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie isâ€¦
Watching a Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie is like an event you’re witnessing. It’s a must watch!
Ram-Leela is epic. Actually, all his movies are. It’s the way he likes to function. He
doesn’t plan the previous day what he’s going to do the next day. He will go by his instinct,
his mood but yet make it look larger than life, every scene. He loves his set. It’s like a huge
temple. You get good vibes. He can make the movie on the film set. Only he can. In a Bhansali
movie, you get more absorbed. It happened to me while I was working on Cocktail too. So
it’s happened twice now. Sanjay Leela Bhansali rolls the camera. For him, that is magic.