She walks across the room with a confident yet measured stride, head held up high, eyes ablaze with determination. But interestingly, there is something about Deepika Padukone that tells us that somewhere within that seemingly reserved exterior there lives a simple and shy 21-year-old girl who can’t wait to conquer the big bad world of Bollywood.
Well, the hype surrounding her is already there and why not! For November 2007 will see Deepika make her debut opposite Shah Rukh Khan in Farah Khan’s Om Shanti Om (OSO). Hype or no hype, Deepika is nonplussed. “Hype is great. Although I have never gone out of my way to generate it,” smiles Deepika with an intelligent viewpoint on all the buzz she has garnered. “For me, hype only means double the hardwork and it pushes me to work with even more intensity. But that apart, there is bound to be hype because of the type of film OSO is. It’s the best kind of debut I could have ever asked for. It has everything – great music, romance and to top it all SRK!”
Although tight-lipped about the other films being offered to her, Deepika does admit to going through at least three scripts a week. “But I have signed on no other film. I can’t think beyond OSO. You could say that I’m having an affair with it,” she says, the twinkle in her eyes brighter than ever.
And what about a certain affair of the Ranbir Kapoor kind? “I won’t deny that Ranbir is a part of my life,” Deepika pauses, only to add, “…but as a friend and nothing else. We have been spending a lot of time together and I guess that when you go out with a group of friends, with only two of us being known faces, speculation is bound to be there. And I am prepared for it. It is a part and parcel of an actor’s life.”
Rubbishing rumours of a roadside fight between Ranbir and ex-boyfriend Nihar Pandya, Deepika gets upset with the very mention of the alleged brawl. “Nihar and I are not seeing each other anymore, so there is no question him fighting over me,” says an exasperated Deepika. “Both Ranbir and Nihar come from good families and the two of them don’t need to get into a fight – publicly or privately. They are mature and intelligent enough not to fight over me.”
Still friends with Nihar, Deepika is also hurt about reports that she “used his family to set up base in Mumbai”. “That was the limit! Nihar’s family isn’t like my family. They are my family and I am their daughter – irrespective if I’m seeing him or not,” she says with that same determination that seems to be becoming her trademark.
“Yes, I am a very determined person who puts her career first – above all things,” she says pointedly. “Love and friendship, all can wait. I have lost a lot of friends because of this determination. Today my priorities are my career and my family and I will do anything to nurture the two of them!”
Not averse to showing skin, or even wearing a bikini on screen, Deepika seems a virtual breath of fresh air when compared to the likes of the “ask mummy!” brigade. “I don’t mind wearing a bikini because I know that I can carry one off. I’m very sure of what I can do and what I can’t. As long as I’m enjoying it, it’s fine,” she says without batting an eyelid.
With her pretty head firmly screwed onto her shoulders, Deepika says that she is prepared for both, the bouquets and brickbats that may come her way. “I have a very long way to go in terms of my acting abilities. To me failure and success are two sides of the same coin and accepting them both equally is what I truly believe shapes me as the person that I am. So all I can say is bring it on!”