Like many beautiful women, Deepika Padukone craves for acceptance, love and approval from family and friends. She is among the lucky few to have found all three from her loved ones, and from the world at large, and that includes the biggest Indian female star of all times Hema Malini.
The eternally beautiful Hemaji once told me, “If there is one contemporary actress I like the best it is Deepika. She is so beautiful and so talented. And so dignified in her public conduct. There are so many of contemporaries who keep shooting off their mouths to get attention. Not Deepika. I think she is more talented beautiful and dedicated to her work that I ever was. And so graceful!”
Deepika is also more competitive than Hemaji ever was. She doesn’t come across as being competitive. But she is. The only reason she went abroad was to give Priyanka Chopra a run for her money. And no harm in that. Shabana Azmi would hound a director she wanted to work with until he or she said yes.
Deepika doesn’t know this. But she makes some of the biggest legends of our celluloid feel insecure. I remember this incident at the 50th birthday of a director where beauty queen, diva, icon, bahu of a distinguished family turned up her nose the minute Deepika walked in. “What is she doing here?” she asked. Errr, exactly what you are doing?
The first time I heard about Ms Padukone was when my friend Priyadarshan was planning to launch her in a film called Pirates. “There’s a new girl from Bangalore. I think she has great potential,” he told me excitedly. The next thing I knew Deepika was being launched by Farah Khan. Since Deepika knew nothing about the Hindi film industry she was advised that Farah was a safer bet than Priyan, though that is a debatable point.
Our conversations back then were warm but formal. Then one day she surprised me by asking, “When do I get to meet you?” It was unexpected. We didn’t get an opportunity to build a stronger bond. But I am happy to see Deepika in such a happy marriage after an unhappy relationship where she was totally devoted. I wouldn’t like to go into why that relationship ended. But she gave it her all, as she does to everything she does.
The last year was not very kind to Deepika, and it wasn’t just the Covid. But Deepika always shows grace under pressure. I have never seen her do anything undignified. She is a very proper lady, likes all her Ps and Qs in place and never errs in her duties. I am sure Deepika will make a great mother soon. Ranveer will agree with that.
Happy Birthday, Deepika. I can’t wait to see what your screen Jodi with Prabhas looks like.