Studio 9 in Hyderabad’s film city is bustling with activity as the cast and crew of “Cocktail” are busy shooting portions of the film starring Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone. As they break for lunch, Bollywood’s current sunshine girl, Deepika Padukone walks towards her vanity van, looking resplendent in a green gown and minimal make-up. “Hyderabad is fun. I shot for an item number here and also a cola commercial,” she says as a greeting. Deepika then bares her heart in an exclusive interview with Hyderabad Times. Excerpts.
You seem to be having a great run as far as the box office results of most of your films are concerned.
True. I think somewhere it has to do with the scripts that I’m choosing, the directors I’m working with and also what the audience likes. I’ve always tried to do something different — right from “Om Shanti Om”, “Love Aaj Kal” and now “Aarakshan”. I’m glad my efforts have been appreciated so far.
So, it’s a conscious effort to do different films every time?
Somewhere people feel I can be part of these different films which is why they are offered to me. But, it’s not a conscious decision. I don’t think ‘Okay, this year I’ll do one romantic film, one political thriller and so on.’ It depends on what I’m offered at that point of time and if I connect to it.
Saif and you now have three films. Quite an unconventional pairing…
We were fortunate to have Imtiaz direct us in our first film, where people loved us. But we didn’t make a conscious decision to do films with one another. It’s just a co-incidence that we are offered great scripts. And I like our pairing, I’m glad it’s working.
You have “Rana” with Rajinikanth. Is it on the back-burner for now due to his ill health?
Right now I’m not comfortable talking about it because nothing is more important than Rajini sir’s health. He knows I’m there for him and I’m not going anywhere. I’m great friends with Soundarya and they know dates are not an issue, as I’ll always work around it for them. I mean, come on, it’s a Rajini film! In most cases the script matters, but with this one, it’s just the Rajini factor that works. One’s career is incomplete if one hasn’t worked with THE Rajinikanth.
The current mood in the industry reflects that you are the next big thing. Where do you see yourself in the rat race?
It’s just been three years and I have been fortunate to work with some of the best in the industry. But, I have a long way to go now. I have become a lot more confident of myself and my craft. I’d rather have a slow and steady climb, than be a flash in the pan. I’m not looking at retiring or getting married in a few years. And what rat race? I’m here for the long run.
Have the zeroes on your pay-cheque increased with every hit?
Absolutely. Where you stand in the market makes a huge difference to everything that you do.
There’s a new Deepika that we see now — candid and outspoken…
You know, I’ve always been like that. I don’t know why people think I’ve changed. I’ve always spoken honestly. But, I guess you also learn over a period of time and become confident.
While many appreciated your honesty on “Koffee With Karan”, it didn’t go down too well with a certain section, (namely the Kapoors).
It didn’t bother me one bit. It was my show, the questions were asked to me and I answered them the way I wanted to. I’m not answerable to anyone.
You hardly speak about your relationship with Siddhartha…
No. Relationships or not, I believe that people don’t need to know about my life beyond a certain point. I understand there is a curiosity about me and Siddhartha, but there’s only that much I’ll say about my personal life. You can speculate or gossip, it doesn’t bother me.
So how do you maintain fickle relationships in the industry. A big deal is made when you are not spotted at SRK’s party at Mannat…
I may not be best friends with many, but that does not mean I don’t get along with them. If I wasn’t at SRK’s party it was because I was shooting in Hyderabad. There is no rift or a fight or anything of that sort.
You’ve always said that you wanted to work with Salman. Do you think other heroines — Asin, Sonakshi — are trying to pip you at that?
Not at all. I have been offered a lot of films with Salman, unfortunately it has not worked out for many reasons. He is definitely on top of my list of actors I’d die to work with. When the time is right, I will do a film with him. I know he wants to work with me, he knows I want to work with him and people know we want to work with each other, so when times comes, we’ll get together on screen. TOI