Deepika Padukone: “For me, Rani Padmavati is a warrior…”


As ‘Padmaavat’ finally approaches release, excitement amongst the international audiences as well as some within the sub-continent is increasing by the day. The Sanjay Leela Bhansali directorial features Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh; both of which have worked twice with the filmmaker previously. Shahid Kapoor also has a pivotal role this time, marking his debut film with Bhansali. caught up with Padukone to talk about the film before its original release date of 1st December.

How did you approach this character of Rani Padmavati?
When you read the script and you live with it for a while, it comes to you automatically. There’s so much literature on Padmaavat that it makes the process easier. You have a director like Sanjay Leela Bhansali who has a very clear vision. I think it’s about flowing organically and whatever my instinct tells me at that point.

There are three actors, including yourself, par excellence in this film. How does that satisfy you creatively, working with actors like that?
It’s very, very satisfying. I understand and appreciate the value that they bring to this film, to both their parts. I have to say, casting this film wasn’t easy but they did it. And they’ve made this film possible, they’ve enabled it. They’ve enabled Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s vision. Of course, I’ve worked with Ranveer before, but I am working with Shahid for the first time. And I’m glad I got the opportunity to work with him in this particular film.

Your chemistry with Shahid Kapoor comes across so well. Did you work together to get that chemistry right?
No, not at all. There was a sense of ease and comfort right from the beginning and we carried that on right to the end. There is a sense of comfort, trust and honesty and we also had a lot of fun while we were at it. I feel like sometimes things just happen when they need to happen. I think our fans really tried many, many times to convince us and bring us together to do a film, but it finally happened now and I’m glad it happened with ‘Padmaavat’ and not any other time.

Ranveer Singh is stepping into a negative role for the first time. How do you think the audience will react to that?
I hope they appreciate and understand what he’s done, because it’s not easy to do what he’s done in this film. I can’t say much because I haven’t seen anything of the film and neither do we have any scenes together, so it’s really hard for me to say how it turned out. I’ve seen as much as you guys have seen from the trailers and I think it’s very, very brave to do what he’s done. It’s weird for us at the same time because we’ve done two films together where we’re depicted as eternal lovers. We’ve done very strong characters. Being together in a love story and now to do a film where we’re opposite each other in not the same way is weird. Sort of like a hate story, almost. So to change the dynamic between the two of us is a weird feeling.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali is known for the grandeur in his films. You tweeted that you found shooting for ‘Ghoomar’ quite challenging. Would you say that was the most challenging part of shooting for ‘Padmaavat’ as a whole?
I think with Sanjay Leela Bhansali there is no easy or difficult day. I think every day is equally challenging or equally demanding. ‘Ghoomar’ is challenging in its own way. Even the smallest of scenes will be demanding and challenging, so I think overall the film has been quite exhausting in that sense.

What do you think you’ve learnt personally from the experience?
So much. Working with someone like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, you learn so much. He brings out the best in me as an actor. He enriches me as a human being, as a person. And he constantly challenges you as well. There’s no right or wrong in his eyes, especially as an actor you feel completely liberated when you work with him, because he gives you a scene and allows you to fly with it. There are no questions asked, because he believes in your vision. I think overall, creatively and otherwise we learn so much working with him and being on his set.

In ‘Bajirao Mastani’ (2015) we saw you carry out some action scenes. Should we expect that in ‘Padmaavat’?
There are action scenes in the film, but not with my character. Rani Padmavati not a warrior princess. Well not literally a warrior princess, but when you watch the film, for me in many ways she is because of what she believes in and what she stood for.

You’ve taken on quite a few intense roles in the recent past. Do you think we could see you in a light-hearted film coming up?
I think so. Definitely what I need to be doing very, very soon. While I am drawn to films that are challenging and demanding, I feel like I’m ready now to do something that’s a little lighter emotionally.

‘Padmaavat’ releases on 25th January.

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