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Deepika Padukone Bio
Deepika Padukone (born January 5, 1986) is an Indian film actress and model. One of the most popular and highest-paid Indian celebrities, she has established a career in Bollywood films, and is the recipient of two Filmfare Awards.
Padukone, the daughter of the badminton player Prakash Padukone, was born in Copenhagen and raised in Bangalore. As a teenager she played badminton in national level championships, but left her career in sport to become a fashion model. She soon received offers for film roles, and made her acting debut in 2006 as the titular character of the Kannada film Aishwarya. Padukone then played dual roles in her first Bollywood release—the 2007 blockbuster Om Shanti Om—and won a Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut. Padukone received praise for portraying the lead female roles in the romance Love Aaj Kal (2009) and the drama Lafangey Parindey (2010), but her performances in the romantic comedy Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008) and the comedy Housefull (2010) met with negative reviews.
The 2012 box office hit Cocktail marked a turning point in Padukone’s career, earning her critical acclaim and Best Actress nominations at several award ceremonies. She went on to star in the comedies Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013), Chennai Express (2013), and Happy New Year (2014), all of which rank among the highest-grossing Bollywood films. She also garnered praise for her performances in the tragic romance Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013), for which she won the Filmfare Award for Best Actress, and the comedy-drama Piku (2015).
Alongside her acting career, Padukone participates in stage shows, has written columns for an Indian newspaper, is a prominent celebrity endorser for brands and products, and is vocal about issues such as feminism and depression.
Film debut and breakthrough (2006–09)
Padukone announced in 2006 that she would make her film debut with Aishwarya, a Kannada film directed by Indrajit Lankesh. The romantic comedy was a remake of the Telugu film Manmadhudu, and she was cast in the titular role opposite the actor Upendra. The film proved a major commercial success. RG Vijayasarathy of Rediff.com was appreciative of Padukone’s screen presence but added that “she needs to work on her emotional scenes.”
By the end of 2006, Farah Khan’s Happy New Year was shelved, and Khan had instead cast Padukone for the reincarnation melodrama Om Shanti Om (2007). Set against the backdrop of the Hindi film industry, the film tells the story of a struggling actor in the 1970s who dies soon after witnessing the murder of the woman he loved, and is reincarnated to avenge her death. Shah Rukh Khan starred as the protagonist, and Padukone featured in dual roles—Shantipriya, a leading actress of the 1970s, and later as Sandy, an aspiring actress. She said, “I’ve grown up watching (Shah Rukh) and always admired him so much. To get to work with him … is quite wonderful. It was also fantastic that Farah showed faith in my talent and cast me opposite him.” In preparation for her role, Padukone watched several films of actresses Helen and Hema Malini to study their body language, which she felt “were more graceful” and “completely different from today’s actors.” However, her voice was dubbed by the voice artist Mona Ghosh Shetty. For one of the songs in the film, “Dhoom Taana,” Padukone drew upon Indian classical dance, and according to Dorling Kindersley, “mesmeriz(ed) audiences” by using hasta mudras (hand gestures). Om Shanti Om was a commercial success, and emerged as the highest grossing film of the year, with a global revenue of ₹1.49 billion (US$22 million). Taran Adarsh of the entertainment portal Bollywood Hungama reviewed, “Deepika has all it takes to be a top star—the personality, the looks and yes, she’s supremely talented too. Standing in the same frame as (Shah Rukh) and getting it right is no small achievement. She comes as a whiff of fresh air!” At the annual Filmfare Awards ceremony, Padukone was awarded the Best Female Debut Award and received her first nomination in the Best Actress category.
Bollywood Hungama reported that the success of Om Shanti Om proved a breakthrough for Padukone. She followed this success with the role of Gayatri (one of star Ranbir Kapoor‘s love interests), a feisty student in Australia who moonlights as a cab driver in Yash Raj Films‘ romantic comedy Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008). The film was a financial success, but Namrata Joshi of Outlook wrote that Padukone’s performance was disappointing: “She is mannequin-like and utterly lacks fire and zing.”
Padukone’s first release of 2009 came alongside Akshay Kumar in the Nikhil Advani-directed kung fu comedy Chandni Chowk To China, in which she portrayed the dual roles of Indian-Chinese twin sisters Sakhi and Suzy. Produced by Warner Bros., it had one of the widest international releases ever given to an Indian film. Padukone learned the Japanese martial art form of jujutsu, and performed her stunts without the use of a body double. Despite the hype, Chandni Chowk To China proved a major financial failure with worldwide earnings of ₹554.7 million (US$8.4 million) on a budget of ₹800 million (US$12 million). Film critics were generally disappointed with the picture and Padukone’s performance; Justin Trout of Orlando Weekly noted that she “is so wasted in Chandni Chowk, my mind often wandered back to Om Shanti Om during her scenes, possibly as a defense mechanism.”
That same year, Padukone featured in an item number (for a song called “Love Mera Hit Hit”) in the drama Billu, following which she appeared alongside Saif Ali Khan in the romantic drama Love Aaj Kal from the writer-director Imtiaz Ali. The film documented the changing value of relationships among the youth, and had Padukone play the part of Meera Pandit, a head-strong career woman. With a worldwide gross of ₹1.2 billion (US$18 million), Love Aaj Kal proved to be the third highest-grossing film of 2009. Aniruddha Guha of Daily News and Analysis said that Padukone “delivers the best of her four performances so far” and Nikhat Kazmi of The Times of India mentioned her as “definitive and strong.” At the 55th Filmfare Awards Padukone received a nomination for Best Actress.
Career struggles (2010–11)
Padukone had five film releases in 2010. Her first role was in Vijay Lalwani’s psychological thriller Karthik Calling Karthik, where Padukone was cast as the supportive girlfriend of a depressed man (played by Farhan Akhtar) who goes through a series of changes after receiving mysterious phone calls every morning. Derek Elley of Variety found the film to be “thinly plotted” but added that “the uncomplicated ingenuousness of Padukone … helps make the tall tale convincing.” Commercially, the film performed poorly. Her most economically profitable film that year was Sajid Khan‘s ₹1.15 billion (US$17 million)-grossing comedy film Housefull in which she featured alongside an ensemble cast including Akshay Kumar, Ritesh Deshmukh, Lara Dutta, Arjun Rampal, Jiah Khan and Boman Irani. Raja Sen described the film as a “festival of bad acting” and attributed Padukone’s poor performance to her “plasticky expressions.”
Pradeep Sarkar‘s drama Lafangey Parindey (2010) saw Padukone star opposite Neil Nitin Mukesh in the role of Pinky Palkar, a blind girl determined to win a skating competition. In preparation for her role, she observed the interactions of blind people and rehearsed scenes while blindfolded. Writing for The Hindu, Sudhish Kamath was particularly impressed by Padukone and wrote that she “exercises considerable restraint” in playing her part. Later that year, Hindustan Times published that the film helped change people’s perception of Padukone, with focus directed on her acting prowess rather than her appearance. Her next role was opposite Imran Khan in the Danish Aslam-directed romantic comedy Break Ke Baad. CNN-IBN‘s Rajeev Masand found the film to be “reasonably engaging” and noted that it was “watchable largely for the performance of its leading lady.” Both Lafangey Parindey and Break Ke Baad underperformed at the box office.
Padukone’s final release of 2010 was Ashutosh Gowarikar‘s period film Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey opposite Abhishek Bachchan. Based on the book Do and Die by Manini Chatterjee, the film is a retelling of the 1930 Chittagong armoury raid. Bachchan featured as the revolutionary leader Surya Sen and Padukone played Kalpana Dutta, his confidante. Padukone said that she did not research for the role as there were “hardly … any reference points as to what Kalpana looked like other than a few photos,” and relied completely on Gowarikar’s direction. A review published in The Telegraph was appreciative of Padukone’s portrayal, and the film received a generally positive critical reception. Despite this, it proved a major commercial disappointment.
Padukone began 2011 with an item number in Rohan Sippy‘s Dum Maaro Dum. The song was a remixed version of the iconic song “Dum Maro Dum,” from the 1971 film Hare Rama Hare Krishna, which featured Zeenat Aman. Padukone referred to it as “the wildest song any actress has done;” the song’s “suggestive lyrics” and “raunchy moves” attracted controversy including a court case for indecency. Her next film was Prakash Jha‘s socio-political drama Aarakshan, co-starring Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Manoj Bajpayee and Prateik Babbar, which dealt with the political issue of caste-based reservations in India. Trade journalists had high expectations for the film which ultimately flopped at the box office. Critical reaction was largely negative, though Pratim D. Gupta mentioned Padukone as the most “refreshing thing about (the) movie.” Her final appearance that year was in Rohit Dhawan’s comedy-drama Desi Boyz alongside Akshay Kumar, John Abraham and Chitrangada Singh, a role that failed to propel her career forward. The series of poorly received films led critics to perceive that Padukone had “(lost) her sparkle.”
Cocktail and success (2012–13)
In an interview for The Indian Express, Padukone said that her starring role in the 2012 Homi Adajania-directed romantic comedy Cocktail marked a significant turning point in her career. Raja Sen of Rediff.com opined that she had successfully proved to be a “stunning girl who can also act.” Set in London, Cocktail tells the story of a software engineer (played by Saif Ali Khan) and his relationship with two temperamentally different women—an impulsive party girl (Veronica, played by Padukone) and a submissive girl next door (Meera, played by Diana Penty). During the script narration, the producer Dinesh Vijan offered Padukone the choice of which woman to play; she decided on Veronica to expand her horizons as an actress. Portraying the role was a creative and physical challenge for her, and to achieve the physical requirements of her character she exercised extensively and followed a rigorous diet. Critics were divided in their opinion of the film, but particularly praised Padukone’s performance; Devesh Sharma of Filmfare credited her as the “soul of the film” and wrote that she “excels in every scene, whether as a material girl who enjoys sex, drugs and rock and roll or as the jealousy ridden girl out to destroy herself.” Cocktail earned Padukone Best Actress nominations at several award ceremonies, including Filmfare, Screen, and IIFA. The film proved a box office hit as well.
In 2013, Padukone established herself as a leading actress of contemporary Hindi cinema by featuring in four of the top-grossing productions of the year. She collaborated with Saif Ali Khan for the fourth time (alongside John Abraham, Jacqueline Fernandez, Ameesha Patel, and Anil Kapoor) in Abbas-Mustan‘s Race 2, an ensemble action thriller that served as a sequel to the 2008 film Race. The film received predominantly negative reviews from critics, but with a total collection of ₹1.62 billion (US$24 million), it proved to be a commercial success. In a particularly scathing review, Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV wrote that both Padukone and Fernandez “strut around like wound-up automatons that are all decked-up but have nowhere to go.”
Ayan Mukerji‘s romantic comedy Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani was Padukone’s next film release. Co-starring alongside Ranbir Kapoor, Kalki Koechlin, and Aditya Roy Kapoor, she was cast as Naina Talwar, a “shy wallflower,” which marked a departure from the glamorous characters that she had a reputation for portraying. Film critics praised Padukone’s performance, though their response to the film was mixed. Raja Sen thought that the film “lacked a good story” but added that Padukone “acts within herself and eschews exaggeration, and the results are impressive … This may be her most self-aware performance so far”. The pairing of Padukone with her former boyfriend was highly anticipated, and the film proved a major success with a worldwide revenue of ₹3.02 billion (US$46 million). Her next appearance was opposite Shah Rukh Khan in Rohit Shetty‘s action-comedy film Chennai Express. She played Meenalochini Azhagusundaram, a Tamil girl on the run from her father (a local don), which required that she adopt a Tamil accent. Critical opinion on her accent was mixed, but her performance received praise; film critic Aseem Chhabra concluded, “Padukone is delightful in the film—beautiful, smiling, and often a lot more playful and funny than Khan.” Chennai Express was Padukone’s second consecutive release to earn over ₹3 billion (US$45 million) in worldwide ticket sales; both Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Chennai Express rank among the highest-grossing Bollywood films of all time.
Padukone next played opposite Ranveer Singh in Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, an adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy of Romeo and Juliet from director Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Her role was Leela, a Gujarati girl based on the character of Juliet. Initially titled Ram-Leela, the film’s title was changed after a court case was registered against Bhansali, Padukone, and Singh for “offending the religious sentiments” of the Hindu community by showcasing sex and violence under a title that referred to the life of Lord Rama. Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela released among protests across several states in India, but was generally well received by critics. Meena Iyer of The Times of India mentioned Padukone as “breathtaking”, and writing for Deccan Chronicle, Khalid Mohamed concluded that “it’s Deepika Padukone whom the film belongs to. Looking drop dead gorgeous and going at her part with a wallop, she’s the prime asset of Ram-Leela.” The film earned ₹2.02 billion (US$30 million) worldwide, making it Padukone’s fourth consecutive box office hit of the year. Her performances in Chennai Express and Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela won her several awards, including the Screen Award for Best Actress for both films and the Filmfare Award for Best Actress for the latter.
In 2014, Padukone featured opposite Rajinikanth in the Tamil film Kochadaiiyaan, a period drama that was shot using motion capture technology. In Homi Adajania’s widely praised satire Finding Fanny, Padukone played a young widow who takes a road trip with her dysfunctional friends (played by Arjun Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia and Pankaj Kapur) in search of a woman named Fanny. The film was screened at the 19th Busan International Film Festival; critic Anuj Kumar of The Hindu wrote that Padukone successfully “takes off the fineries of Bollywood and you can sense the freedom from baggage in her performance”. Farah Khan’s renewal of Happy New Year saw Padukone work with Shah Rukh Khan for the third time. She played a bar dancer who trains a group of underachievers for a dance competition. Rajeev Masand wrote that she “strikes the right balance between broad humor and heartfelt emotion, giving us another winning character”, though Sanjukta Sharma of Mint was more critical of her performance, and found her role to be of minimal importance that required her only to be “a pretty thing to be laughed at and pitied”. The film earned over ₹1.75 billion (US$26 million) in India, emerging a major financial success.
Following an appearance in an online video on feminism, entitled My Choice, under the direction of Homi Adajania, Padukone took on the role of a Bengali architect who cares for her hypochondriac father (played by Amitabh Bachchan) in Shoojit Sircar‘s comedy-drama Piku (2015). Reviews for the film were positive; Tanmaya Nanda of Business Standard praised the film for its feminist tone, and wrote that Padukone proves “what she is capable of when given something more to do than look pretty and be the crazy-dance girl at parties”. NDTV’s Saibal Chatterjee opined that she “holds Piku together with a restrained star turn”. With a worldwide gross of over 1.40 billion indian rupee (US$21 million), the film emerged as a box office hit.
As of October 2015, Padukone has completed work for Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha, a romantic drama opposite Ranbir Kapoor releasing in November. She is currently filming Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s historical romance Bajirao Mastani, in which she plays Mastani opposite Ranveer Singh’s Baji Rao I and Priyanka Chopra‘s Kashibai.
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