A slew of movies, international red-carpet appearances, representing India on the Cannes jury, the face of some of the world’s biggest luxury brands, and now launching a self-care brand. Given all that India’s most sought- after celebrity has on her plate, she might be forgiven her elusiveness.
As we delve deep into a conversation with her, we realise that behind the statuesque persona, there’s no diva-esque drama. Her priorities are self-love and self-care, neither of which would be exceptional if she were someone else. But given who she is, her unpretentious, low- key approach is one worth note.
Meet Deepika Padukone.
Languorous legs, a sinuously sensual smile, an athletic body that’s beyond hourglass perfect. Add to that a calm, pure soul, a deep intellect and eyes that seek honesty in all its purviews... Deepika Padukone is not just a superstar, courtesy her hits and global persona; she’s a star in the real sense. One who transcends the cinema galaxy once in a rare, blue moon.
The daughter of Prakash Padukone, one of India’s greatest badminton players, she was a winner the moment she was discovered and catapulted to the ramp by Bengaluru- based choreographer Prasad Bidappa. Once there, the world of fashion marvelled at her personality that shone like a million lights come alive. And presto! Deepika was near- instantly in the supermodel hall of fame, where she stayed for a short, eventful time till, lo and behold, she was handpicked to play Shanti Priya opposite Shah Rukh Khan in Om Shanti Om. Deepika arrived in Bollywood like the veritable icing on the cake, paired opposite a superstar with whom she matched perfectly, frame by scintillating frame. The rest, as they say, is history.
It’s in these movies that also emerged the sheer joie and chemistry she shares with her now husband, Ranveer Singh. Bollywood’s Couple No. 1, Deepika and Ranveer are quite the duo. To every deep emotion in Deepika, there’s a crazy Ranveer move; to each of her pensive thoughts, there’s a witty bid by Ranveer to swoop her off her feet.
A muse, a voice, a powerful woman, self-made and proud to have stormed the bastion of a purported male-dominated industry, Deepika sparkles right from her soul and is well on her way to becoming India’s most legendary star. One who knows the world’s her stage because for her, even the sky doesn’t seem the limit.
Today, her hard-work and diligence has put her on the path to global domination. She was recently named one of the world’s 10 most beautiful women by the famed Dr Julian DeSilva, was a jury member at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, has a number of luxury brand endorsements to her name, including Louis Vuitton and Cartier, and is now ready to launch her own self-care brand, 82°E. At 36, Deepika is a juggernaut, an unstoppable force to reckon with.
Let’s unfold what’s behind this phenomenon...
Deepika, the multi-hyphenate
A badminton champion, India’s leading actress, a toast to beauty, fashion and talent, a global personality, and also an entrepreneur. A journey that very few on this planet can walk...
“It’s been an extremely fulfilling journey,” says Deepika of her career trajectory. “Even as a child, I always had a vision board in my head. But I didn’t have control over how I would achieve that and whether it would manifest in the way I would like for it to.”
“I was always clear that I wanted to be in a place where I could influence minds. When you have a dream, drive, dedication and, most importantly, the right intent and wake up with that passion every day, it’s truly fulfilling.”
“My biggest sacrifice was leaving home at the age of 18 to move to Mumbai and start a life. It’s been tough. It’s only in interviews like these that one opens up and looks back. Otherwise, I’m inherently someone who always looks ahead. But then I tell myself that it’s okay to pat yourself on the back, acknowledge and appreciate yourself and continue to move forward.”
“Our world of films and glamour may appear easy, but only those in this business know the challenges it comes with. At the end of the day, it took all of that to get to where I am today. So it’s been a journey of growth, mistakes and learning, all of which came with its own challenges.”
Deepika, the superstar
In her acting career, Deepika pushed her emotive prowess to new boundaries with each release. Versatility being the cornerstone of her work trajectory. Yes, she has done the ‘run around the tree’ routine for commercial success (think Om Shanti Om and Chennai Express), but with that stereotype also emerged a strong, assertive actor. To every Chennai Express, there was a Chhapaak, a Piku to a Housefull, a Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani to an 83.
Time and again, Deepika was sought out to play roles of historically powerful women. Padmavati, the gutsy maharani, Mastani, who helped Peshwa Bajirao in his warfare, and Ram-Leela, where love triumphed even in death. Deepika did poetic justice to each of these roles, chose challenging characters to portray and won rafts of awards, including Best Actress for Piku in 2015.
So many of her movies left such an indelible imprint that talking to Deepika is quite a peculiar experience. The real import of our tête-à-tête becomes clearer only afterward, when we start to feel as though some kind of magic trick has been played on us.
So is she a method actor?
“I think I’m just an honest actor. I’ve never had any professional training or a godfather to guide or support me. Everything I learnt is through trial and error of my own, so I found my own ‘Deepika method’.”
“All of it is a gut call. It depends on whether I connect with the script, what I want to say through my movies or the characters I’m offered, along with what’s happening at that particular stage of my life,” she shares.
On some of her favourite and not-so favourite roles, she says: “Piku was one role that was entirely me, as this was exactly how I was brought up. The character diametrically opposite to who I am was Veronica in Cocktail...”...A movie where she made audiences swoon over her stylish entry to ‘Angreji Beat’ back in 2012. The year 2023 is going to be another big one for Deepika as she has Pathaan with Shah Rukh Khan, Fighter with Hrithik Roshan and Project K with Prabhas and Amitabh Bachchan in the pipeline.
Deepika, the entrepreneur
A strong believer of prioritising self-care, Deepika has now launched her own self-care brand, 82°E, with skincare as its inaugural category. With the name inspired by the Standard Meridian of India, 82°E is Indian in its ethos and global in its outlook.
“I don’t look at it as merely another feather in my professional cap, but also in my personal journey. The brand is an extension of my personality. It’s strongly rooted in my homeland but is global in outlook and appeal,” she says with pride.
“Over the years, I learnt to understand growth, and emotional, physical and mental well-being. So a self-care brand was the most natural extension of my learnings, of who I am and what I stand for. It keeps me grounded and centred. That is what prompted the launch of this brand.”
“When you think about your journey moving forward, you think about how to leave a legacy behind. I can do it through my movies, or my mental health foundation, or this brand, which reflects my core beliefs. It’s also my way of giving back to the community that invested in my journey so far.”
On her mindset on being born in India and going global, she explains: “When I joined films, everyone told me to move abroad and work in Hollywood. I asked, ‘Why can’t I be truly Indian? Why can’t I live in my own country and still have a global impact?’ That’s what I’m doing today. I’m a proud Indian and carry my tradition and culture to the world. I can own who I am and the culture I inherited and still be able to speak to the world.”
It’s with her heart in India and eyes on the world that 82°E came about. The brand’s products combine time-tested Indian ingredients with powerful scientific compounds, offering us the best of both worlds, starting with skincare.
“Why skincare? Because we don’t give too much importance to the moments we spend with on my face is secondary. It’s the moment I spend with myself, nurturing my mind, body and spirit, that’s important. That’s where the brand comes from. From skincare, we’ll grow into other categories that evoke a similar feeling.”
So how strong is the business acumen in this girl next door?
“Ask the people who sat in meetings with me!” she quips with a smile. “I’ve always been fascinated by entrepreneurship. People along the way dropped these nuggets, and the seed was sown. I was especially intrigued with the startup boom in India and how the process of investing in ideas works. And I was always willing to learn. So it was a combination of it all.”
Look around, and there’s a definite trend of international stars getting into similar businesses, but Deepika wasn’t bitten by this bug per se.
“This would have happened whether this global phenomenon happened or not. It was just a matter of time. What’s happening internationally is purely coincidental,” she shrugs.
And on how the brand personifies her beliefs, she says: “Self-care is an extremely important part of my being. I began to understand it as I grew older. My experience with mental illness also helped me in this understanding.”
Deepika, the global star
Deepika’s tryst with global recognition began aeons ago. Noticed early for her truly international looks, she was every fashion designer’s dream muse. And then came her moments of unending fame with Cannes Film festival, followed by endorsements with giants like Louis Vuitton and Cartier. It doesn’t get bigger than this.
“Everyone wants to know about our culture and perceives India with curiosity and intrigue,” she says. “They now truly value the Indian consumer beyond being just a transaction. In whatever little way I can, I’ll continue to carry our values to the world through my various associations. There’s so much we have to offer culturally and otherwise. We have the talent; all we need to do is be confident and own that.”
Deepika, the activist
The world has marvelled at the way Deepika admitted to fighting depression and tackled the stigma around mental health challenges. It was like a superstar allowing you to gaze at her through her gold-gilded armour. Her powerful statements made headlines and gave so much hope to many young, isolated souls floating silently through life, weighed down by the same predicament of the mind.
Deepika shows guts of rare reverence. She stands up for what she believes in, often paying the price for it with much dignity and power of character, which is the real beauty of this stunner.
“Women in India are conditioned to prioritise the needs of others before their own. But we need to take care of ourselves before trying to nurture others. One in three individuals in our country suffer from mental illness. It’s heartening to see how India has opened up to this conversation since I came out with my story in 2014, but we still have a long way to go.”
There’s so much more to this dynamic lady than what meets the public eye. As they say, even for the luckiest and most talented actors, there are ways for some things — professionally or personally — to fall short than succeed. So it’s a rare moment when project after project clicks seamlessly into place. Right now, Deepika Padukone is clearly having one such moment, and the next few years certainly appear to be hers and more...
Photos: Errikos Andreou/Deu: Creative Management; Styling: Shaleena Nathani; Creative Direction: Avantikka Kilachand; Fashion Editor: Sonam Poladia; Junior Stylist: Anushree Sardesai; Makeup: Anil C; Hair: Yianni Tsapatori; Jewellery Courtesy: Cartier; Production: Dandelion Pictures; Photoshoot & Bts Captured On Oneplus
This has been adapted for the web from a story originally published in the November 2022 issue of HELLO! India. Get our copy of the latest issue right here!