Spotlight on Deepika

Spotlight on Deepika

Ms Padukone has been the talking point this season. And not always for the right reasons

By Khalid Mohamed

Published: Fri 17 Apr 2015, 1:45 PM

Last updated: Fri 26 Jun 2015, 12:26 AM

Arguably, the reigning queen bee of the movies currently, she appears to be asking for flak. A video short titled My Choice, fashioned by her Cocktail and Finding Fanny director Homi Adajania, showed her articulating her fundamental rights to do her own thing — in modish black-and-white visuals.

Whatever for? Interspersed with faces of other women — known and unknown — Deepika Padukone’s close-ups stated that she had the right to do whatever she wanted, in her private and professional space. Feminism is more than welcome in any sphere of public life, but when a widely adored celebrity parrots constitutional and unquestionable rights of women, you do wonder: when has she been denied the right to function at her own will?

Some may state that even simplistic statements are a must. Still, what impact do they make? Precious little, if at all. In the case of My Choice — produced by Vogue magazine’s Indian edition — they have merely sparked online spoofs by male comedians.

Earlier, the actress had disclosed that she had to fight bouts of depression. A commendable confession that, since most Bollywood celebrities tend to shy away from truth-speak. The late Parveen Babi had suffered from an acute case of schizophrenia, but neither she nor the film people around her chose to speak about it till it was too late. Deepika is at the peak of her career. To admit to frailties has been unusual, even admirable at times. The My Choice video is anything but. And I hope it’s nothing more than an aberration.

GUY MAGNET:While her acting skills are acknowledged today,Dippy—as she is fondly known—has always been in the news for herrelationships,whether she acknowledges them or not; (right,above with Siddharth Mallya; (below) with Ram-Leela co-star Ranveer Singh,who she is currently dating

Most actors, male and female, are chronic narcissists. The mirror becomes their best friend. For instance, I once watched this male superstar continuously snatching looks at a wall mirror in front of the dining table. Quite infamously, Rekha kissed herself in a mirror at a photoshoot once. And the average time an actor expends on make-up before facing the camera runs into hours. Truly, Deepika would be well advised to avoid such a trap, and take herself a little less seriously. She’ll feel better.

Also, she needs a savvier publicity machinery. Her interviews are granted only before the release of one of her films’ promotions, and she comes across as dull and calculating, which she is not.

Fame is not new to her: she is the daughter of former Indian badminton champ Prakash Padukone. A couple of years ago, I had spoken to her at length for an anthology of short stories, in the course of which she seemed restless, and yet brutally honest. That her break-up with Ranbir Kapoor had left scars was apparent — a beau whose initials she had tattooed on her neck. The liaison with Ranbir had also incited a needlessly disparaging comment by her about the actor, on an episode of the Koffee with Karan chat show.

I had seen Deepika at musician Himesh Reshammiya’s concert in London, before she entered films. She had starred in a music video for the composer and she was there to be part of the audience at Wembley stadium.

Before she attained stardom, she seemed unsure and visibly vulnerable. Following the success of her Bollywood debut Om Shanti Om, she obviously gained confidence and poise, and evolved as an actress. To start with, she was criticised for her diction, the talk being that she looks gorgeous but shouldn’t open her mouth to deliver dialogue.

The change, as an actress, commenced, I think, with Imtiaz Ali’s Love Aaj Kal, in which she effectively portrayed a career woman who chooses work over love. Subsequently, she was astonishingly effective in Cocktail, Chennai Express and Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ram-Leela. She can no longer be accused of being a run-of-the-mill actress.

Deepika Padukone can be ruffled by the media, a quality which makes her stand out to a degree. When an entertainment daily remarked on her cleavage, she snapped back vehemently. Bravo! She isn’t willing to take offensive remarks. Neither is she likely to open up when she is quizzed about her public appearances with high profile society scion Siddharth Mallya. Nor is the status of her relationship with her Ram-Leela co-star Ranveer Singh quite clear. In sum, her private life’s complicated. Which is inevitable, in a business where every breath taken by a celebrity is monitored.

Quite clearly, the 29-year-old has been through the classic highs and lows of show business. Yes, but that My Choice video still doesn’t serve any purpose. An actress should do her job, period. That speaks more powerfully than pontificating on a woman’s choices, which are an absolute given.

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