Deepika Padukone: Ranbir Kapoor excites me as an actor, co-star

Deepika-ranbirDeepika Padukone with Ranbir Kapoor.
In an exclusive interview to Indian Express' Harneet Singh, Deepika Padukone speaks about career highs, hit films, love, commitments and Ranbir Kapoor.

Ques: Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is keeping the trade pundits busy, are you also number crunching?

Deepika: Yes, a little bit. Not that I'm venturing out of my way to find out the collections but I'm getting the information as people are messaging me. This is what an actor lives for —that a film should be a combination of box office success and great reviews. But I didn't expect this kind of a response. It's beyond expectations.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani collects Rs 100 crore in first week

Ques: Love Aaj Kal, Cocktail and now Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, you seem to have become the

go-to-girl for films on urban love. Is it a conscious choice?

Deepika: No, it's just that after having done enough films I've come to realise that I'm naturally drawn to love stories. I feel I understand the urban love story space, the characters, the situations and the conflicts. But be it Cocktail, Love Aaj Kal or Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, even if they are modern in treatment, I've found that the audience still connects more with the traditional aspect of love.

Ques: Interesting that you say this because one of the biggest criticisms against Cocktail was that it was a very regressive story?

Deepika: But what we showed in the movie was what really happens in society. It has happened to my friends. I know guys who date the Veronicas of the world but when it comes to marriage, they opt for a Meera who is more conventional. That said, who are we to judge? Cocktail was never meant to be preachy.

Ques: How do you see the modern Indian woman? Can she achieve her dreams, bring up a family and live life on her own terms?

Deepika: Yes. I believe a woman can have it all. We are great at multitasking.

Ques: Talking about Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and the situation it presents for your character Naina, are you someone who can tell a boy to not go away to pursue his dream?

Deepika: It'll depend on who the person is and what he means to me. But I hope not. I hope I have enough sense to let him live his life and follow his dreams. The best relationship is where both people are happy and if I stop him from pursuing his dream, then it won't make him happy.

Ques: How did you humanise Naina in your head?

Deepika: I was the inspiration behind Naina. The only difference between Naina and me is that she's a scholar, otherwise she's 99 per cent like me.

Ques: Does that mean that like Naina you also believed that you are not pretty and it needed a boy to make you realise your inner stunning self?

Deepika: Beauty is never something that I've discussed or given importance to. I've never understood the concept of beauty. Who is to decide what is beautiful? I've always mocked the line that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder but it is indeed true. I want people to love me not for the way I look but for who I am. I'd rather be known as a great person than the hottest or the most beautiful thing.

Ques: Your career began with a lot of noise, then went lukewarm and now you've hit top gear. What brought out this killer edge?

Deepika: I've never felt this way. I appreciate that suddenly I'm getting immense love and appreciation but it's not that I'm doing something differently or there is a strategy at play. I'm approaching my work like I always did. My choice of films hasn't changed. It's just that people have started liking me more, I think.

Ques: When do you think it started?

Deepika: I think it happened with Cocktail.

Ques: Do you think you and Ranbir Kapoor share better on-screen chemistry now than you did in Bachna Ae Haseeno?

Deepika: Yes, It comes from comfort. We are more comfortable with each other since we are such good friends and also we are more comfortable with the craft. The confidence that we have gained as actors also comes across in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.

Ques: Were you reluctant to accept the film because of your shared history with Ranbir Kapoor?

Deepika: I jumped at it. I hung around the sets of Wake Up Sid a lot and from that time I wanted to work with Ayan Mukerji. I give Ranbir Kapoor a lot of credit for spotting Ayan, who was a complete newcomer when he came to him with Wake Up Sid. Ayan is an old soul. He's lived every kind of life, relationship and emotion possible. Nobody knows Ranbir Kapoor and me better than Ayan and if he felt we were hesitant about working together he wouldn't have offered us the film.

Ques: How do you complement Ranbir Kapoor on screen?

Deepika: I can't pinpoint what it is. Ranbir Kapoor excites me as an actor and a co-star. I'm just glad we share this kind of onscreen chemistry that makes our pair exciting for the audience.

Ques: Are you and Ranbir better friends now than when you were in a relationship?

Deepika: Yes. I think so.

Ques: Your date diary is the talk of the town. You seem to be the busiest actor.

Deepika: I was until two weeks ago. It was a tough year and I'm glad it's over.

Ques: I can't even begin to tell you how hectic it was — more than just physically, it was taxing emotionally and mentally. I was doing 10 things at a time. Now it's slowly coming back to normal. However, I don't mind putting in the hard work if the results are like Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.

"PLaY is your 4-page weekly entertainment fix, every Friday with The Indian Express".

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