Deepika Padukone (pronounced [d̪iːpɪkaː pəɖʊkoːɳeː] or [paːɖʊkoːɳ]; born 5 January 1986) is an Indian film actress and producer. The highest-paid actress in India, her accolades include three Filmfare Awards. She features in listings of the nation's most popular personalities, and Time named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2018.
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 the sport to become a fashion model. She soon received offers for film roles and made her acting debut in 2006 as the title character of the Kannada film Aishwarya. Padukone then played a dual role opposite Shah Rukh Khan in her first Bollywood release, the romance Om Shanti Om (2007), which won her the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut. Padukone received praise for her starring role in the romance Love Aaj Kal (2009), but this was followed by a brief setback. The romantic comedy Cocktail (2012) marked a turning point in her career, and she gained further success with starring roles in the romantic comedies Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Chennai Express (both 2013), the heist comedy Happy New Year (2014), and Sanjay Leela Bhansali's period dramas Bajirao Mastani (2015) and Padmaavat (2018). Padukone's acclaimed portrayal of a character based on Juliet in Bhansali's tragic romance Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013) and a headstrong architect in the comedy-drama Piku (2015) earned her two Filmfare Awards for Best Actress. Her first project in Hollywood came with the action film XXX: Return of Xander Cage (2017).
Padukone formed her own production company KA Entertainment in 2019. She is the chairperson of the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image and is the founder of the Live Love Laugh Foundation, which creates awareness on mental health in India. Vocal about issues such as feminism and depression, she also participates in stage shows, has written columns for a newspaper, designed her own line of clothing for women, and is a prominent celebrity endorser for brands and products. Padukone is married to her frequent co-star Ranveer Singh.
Early life and modelling career
Padukone was born on 5 January 1986 in Copenhagen, Denmark to Konkani-speaking parents. Her father, Prakash Padukone, is a former badminton player of international repute, and her mother, Ujjala, is a travel agent. Her younger sister, Anisha, is a golfer. Her paternal grandfather, Ramesh, was a secretary of the Mysore Badminton Association. The family relocated to Bangalore, India when Padukone was a year old. She was educated at Bangalore's Sophia High School and completed her pre-university education at Mount Carmel College. She subsequently enrolled at the Indira Gandhi National Open University for a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology but later quit it due to scheduling conflicts with her modelling career.
Padukone has admitted to being socially awkward as a child and did not have many friends. The focus of her life was badminton, which she played competitively from a young age. Describing her daily routine in a 2012 interview, Padukone said, "I would wake up at five in the morning, go for physical training, go to school, again go for playing badminton, finish my homework, and go to sleep." Padukone continued to pursue a career in badminton throughout her school years and played the sport in national level championships. She also played baseball in a few state level tournaments. While concentrating on her education and sporting career, Padukone also worked as a child model, first appearing in a couple of advertising campaigns at the age of eight. In the tenth grade, she changed focus and decided to become a fashion model. She later explained, "I realised that I was playing the game only because it ran in the family. So, I asked my father if I could give up the game and he wasn't upset at all." In 2004, she began a full-time career as a model under the tutelage of Prasad Bidapa.
Early in her career, Padukone gained recognition with a television commercial for the soap Liril and modelled for various other brands and products. In 2005, she made her runway debut at the Lakme Fashion Week for designer Suneet Varma and won the "Model of the Year" award at the Kingfisher Fashion Awards. Padukone's fame increased when she appeared in a highly popular print campaign for the 2006 Kingfisher Calendar; the designer Wendell Rodricks commented, "Since Aishwarya Rai, we haven't had a girl as beautiful and fresh." Rodricks had spotted her at a Ganjam jewellery class he was teaching and signed her up with the Matrix agency. At the age of 21, Padukone relocated to Mumbai and stayed at her aunt's home. That year, she gained wider recognition by featuring in the music video for Himesh Reshammiya's song Naam Hai Tera.
Padukone soon began to receive offers for film roles. Believing herself to be too inexperienced as an actor, she instead enrolled for a course at Anupam Kher's film academy. Following much media speculation, the director Farah Khan, who had noticed her in Reshammiya's music video, made the decision to cast her for a role in Happy New Year. Fashion designer Wendell Rodricks also takes credit in helping her get the role. Farah Khan was looking for a model to star in her next film, and got in touch with Malaika Arora. Rodricks, for whom Padukone had been modelling for roughly two years then, recommended her to Arora, a close friend of his, who in turn recommended her to Khan in 2007.
Film debut and breakthrough (2006–2009)
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 title role opposite the actor Upendra. The film proved to be 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 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 emerged as a major financial failure with worldwide earnings of ₹554.7 million (US$8.0 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, "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$17 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 (2010–2011)
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 was 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."
Establishing with romantic comedies and Ram-Leela (2012–2014)
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 to be 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 and Jacqueline Fernandez) in Abbas-Mustan's Race 2, an ensemble action thriller that served as a sequel to Race (2008). The film received predominantly negative reviews, but with a total collection of ₹1.62 billion (US$23 million), it proved to be a commercial success. In a 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 opposite Ranbir 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 her 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 anticipated, and the film emerged as a major commercial success. 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 wrote, "Padukone is delightful in the film—beautiful, smiling, and often a lot more playful and funny than Khan." Chennai Express earned over ₹3.95 billion (US$57 million) to emerge as Padukone's highest-grossing release to that point, and alongside Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani it ranks among the highest-grossing Indian 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 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$29 million) worldwide, making it Padukone's fourth consecutive success 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. She was paid ₹30 million (US$430,000) for two days worth of work in it. 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". Later that year, she starred opposite Shah Rukh Khan for the third time in Farah Khan's renewal of Happy New Year. She played a bar dancer who trains a group of underachievers for a dance competition. Sanjukta Sharma of Mint found her role to be of minimal importance that required her only to be "a pretty thing to be laughed at and pitied", but the film became one of her most successful, earning over ₹3.4 billion (US$49 million) worldwide.
Piku and period films with Sanjay Leela Bhansali (2015–present)
Following an appearance in Homi Adajania's online video on feminism, entitled My Choice, Padukone took on the role of a headstrong Bengali architect who cares for her hypochondriac father (played by Amitabh Bachchan), in Shoojit Sircar's comedy-drama Piku (2015). She was drawn to the depiction of a realistic father-daughter bond, which she thought was rare in Hindi cinema. Reviews for the film were positive; Tanmaya Nanda of Business Standard praised the film's 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 (US$20 million), Piku emerged as a box office hit, and garnered Padukone several awards, including second Best Actress awards at Filmfare and Screen.
Later in 2015, Padukone played the part of a businessperson who helps Ranbir Kapoor's character overcome his conflicts in Imtiaz Ali's romantic drama Tamasha. Despite poor financial returns, Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com named Padukone's performance as the best by an actress that year, writing that she "is so potent in Tamasha, it's almost as if you can hear her heartbeat across the screen". In her final release of 2015, Padukone reunited with Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Ranveer Singh in Bajirao Mastani, a historical drama about a tragic extramarital affair. Singh was cast as the maratha general Bajirao I, while Priyanka Chopra and Padukone featured as his first and second wife, respectively. To play the warrior-princess Mastani, Padukone learnt sword-fighting, horse-riding, and the martial art form of kalaripayattu. With a revenue of over ₹3.5 billion (US$51 million), Bajirao Mastani proved to be the fourth highest-grossing Bollywood film of the year. Anupama Chopra found Padukone "riveting", but Subhash K. Jha thought that she was "way too subtle and silken, and not steely enough". The film was showcased at the International Film Festival of India; at the 61st Filmfare Awards, Bajirao Mastani was named Best Film and Padukone received her second Best Actress nomination in that year.
The action film XXX: Return of Xander Cage (2017), in which Padukone played the lead female role of Serena Unger, opposite Vin Diesel, marked her first project in Hollywood. Critical reception of the film was mixed. Tirdad Derakhshani of The Philadelphia Inquirer termed the film a "repetitious heap of remarkably tedious CGI-enhanced action scenes" and thought that Padukone's talent was wasted in it. Conversely, Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter believed that she had successfully "outclassed" Diesel to "practically [steal] the film". The film earned over US$345 million worldwide, a majority of which came from the Chinese box office. Padukone received three nominations at the Teen Choice Awards and followed it with an item number in the romantic drama Raabta.
In 2018, Padukone portrayed Rani Padmavati, a Rajput queen who commits jauhar (self-immolation) to protect herself from the Muslim invader Alauddin Khilji, in the period drama Padmaavat; it marked her third collaboration with Bhansali and Singh. She was challenged by the need to convey her character's courage through silence and considered it to be the most emotionally exhausting role of her career. She read history books on the era and researched the various historical depictions of Padmavati. Right-wing Hindu groups speculated that the film portrayed a romantic liaison between Padmavati and Khilji; they protested violently and placed a bounty to behead Padukone and Bhansali. Following a deferment in release, the film was cleared for exhibition after several modifications were made to it. Anna M. M. Vetticad of Firstpost criticised the film's glorification of jauhar, but credited Padukone for managing to "eke something out of the stereotype-ridden writing". Ankur Pathak of HuffPost too took note of the film's regressive theme but thought that Padukone had played her part with "restrained elegance". With an estimated budget of ₹2 billion (US$29 million), Padmaavat is one of the most expensive Hindi film, and with earnings of ₹5.45 billion (US$79 million), it is Padukone's highest-grossing release and one of Indian cinema's biggest grossers. She received another Best Actress nomination at Filmfare.
Padukone shares a close bond with her family, and visits them regularly in her hometown of Bangalore. She lives by herself in Prabhadevi, a neighbourhood in Mumbai, and admits to missing the presence of her family there. She says, "I miss them, but luckily I have a life of my own, which keeps me from getting homesick. I wouldn't want them to uproot their lives from Bengaluru just to be with me." A practicing Hindu, Padukone considers religion to be an important aspect of her life and makes frequent visits to temples and other religious shrines.
While filming Bachna Ae Haseeno in 2008, Padukone began a romantic relationship with co-star Ranbir Kapoor. She spoke openly about the relationship and sported a tattoo of his initials on the nape of her neck. She has said that the relationship had a profound effect on her, transforming her into a more confident and social person. The Indian media speculated on an engagement, and reported that this had occurred in November 2008, although Padukone had stated that she had no plans to marry within the next five years. The couple broke up a year later; she professed in an interview to feeling betrayed for a long time. In a 2010 interview, Padukone accused him of infidelity, and Kapoor later admitted to it. They reconciled their friendship while working on Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. Padukone subsequently became reticent to discuss her personal life, but in 2017, she fondly spoke of her relationship with her frequent co-star Ranveer Singh. In November 2018, the couple married in traditional Konkani and Sindhi ceremonies at Lake Como, Italy.
In addition to acting, Padukone has written opinion columns and has been involved with women's health and fitness magazines. She has also supported charitable organisations, and has performed for stage shows. In 2009, she was hired by Hindustan Times to write weekly columns for their lifestyle section; through these columns she interacted with her fans and passed details of her personal and professional life. That year, she participated in the World 10K Bangalore marathon, which raised ₹13.1 million (US$190,000) in support of 81 NGOs. In 2010, Padukone adopted the Maharashtrian village of Ambegaon as part of NDTV's Greenathon Campaign, to provide the village with a regular supply of electricity. She visited Indian jawans (troops) in Jammu, for an Independence Day special episode of NDTV's reality show Jai Jawaan.
Padukone took part in the opening ceremony of the third season of the Indian Premier League at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. Three years later, she performed alongside Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, and Pitbull for the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League. In 2014, she participated in a concert tour across North America, entitled "SLAM! The Tour", in which she performed alongside her co-stars from Happy New Year. Padukone has also been involved with the Olympic Gold Quest team, established by her father and Geet Sethi to support Indian athletes at the Olympic Games, along with sports personalities such as Leander Paes and Viswanathan Anand and several other actors. In 2013, she launched her own line of clothing for women, in association with the retail chain Van Heusen. Two years later, Padukone collaborated with the fashion portal Myntra to launch another line under her brand "All About You". In 2019, she was appointed as the chairperson of the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image. Through her own company, KA Enterprises, Padukone invested in Drum Foods International, a fast-moving consumer goods company who made the yogurt brand Epigamia.
Padukone has also been outspoken on issues such as feminism and has said, "New feminism isn't about being aggressive; it's about reaching the top yet being soft. It's about being you — feminine, strong and full of will power.” In a 2015 interview, Padukone spoke about her personal experience of overcoming depression, and in October that year she formed a foundation to create awareness on mental health in India, named The Live Love Laugh Foundation. The following year, she launched a campaign named More Than Just Sad to assist general physicians in their treatment of patients suffering from depression or anxiety. Also in 2016, the foundation teamed with Facebook and the AASRA organisation to launch multilingual tools and educational resources in Facebook's networking site to support people with suicidal tendencies. Padukone became the brand ambassador for the NGO Indian Psychiatric Society and on her foundation's first anniversary, the two organisations collaborated to launch the video and poster campaign #DobaraPoocho dedicated to victims and survivors of depression.