I never take anything for granted in my life | Deepika Padukone - Exclusive Interview

Shoojit Sircar's latest offering, Piku, which hits the cinema halls worldwide today, is a slice of life film that beautifully explores the relationship between a father and daughter. The central protagonist, Piku, is naturally in the center of all the madness. Right from looking after her Baba, rushing to work, checking her father's emergency texts, buying grocery, medicines and more; she does all this on her own just like any other dutiful daughter would. To play an all round yet emotional and head strong character like her, Sircar was adamant on casting actress Deepika Padukone, who was last seen in one of 2014's most successful films, Happy New Year. "She was always my first choice for the role of Piku. Although we thought she would take time, Deepika gave the nod to our script in just one day. It was great watching her act," stated Sircar, when asked if the actress was his first choice for the role. Since multiple brands are associated with the film, the cast has been traveling from one city to another for various promotions, launch events and more. When I caught up with the popular actress (twice, in between Piku promotions), Deepika was visibly thrilled and excited to be a part of a film like Piku, especially since it gave her a chance to work with two extremely versatile actors. One, the legendary Amitabh Bachchan, and another was Irrfan; the latter with whom she will be seen sharing screen space for the first time. In a tete-a-tete with Diary of a Dancebee, she speaks about Piku, films, working with Mr.Bachchan and more.

Since you play a Bengali, were there any particular nuances that you had to pick up for your role? And how did you prepare yourself for a character like Piku?
I didn't really have to work on anything particular or even speak the language fluently. Whatever little Bengali that I had to learn was part of the script. Its true that I play a Bengali girl, but that is a part of the narrative only to give my character a background. Otherwise, both my character and the film have a universal appeal. The kind of setting or a family that is showcased in the film can be in any part of India. I believe that Piku is the story of all our lives. So not just a particular group of people, but everyone is going to identify with what Piku is going through. There is a Piku in every woman out there and that's my inspiration for the character.

Apart from being Baba's loving daughter, how else would you define Piku?
There is a lot of chaos in her mind. Its not just the physical chaos that one gets to see. Piku is a lot like all the multi-taskers today, which I think women can manage brilliantly. She has a set routine, which includes balancing work, family, friends, buying grocery, cooking, cleaning the house and doing several other things at the same time. So, a lot of her frustration comes from the fact that her life is pretty mundane, with zero excitement and no time for herself. But despite all the chaos in her mind, her actions aren't chaotic. She knows exactly how she wants to deal with a particular task. In that sense, I found the character very interesting.

How was the experience of working with Mr. Bachchan?
I was really excited and was looking forward to the experience of working with the two stalwarts, Amitji and Irrfan. You can learn so much by just watching them act or rehearse. I consider myself extremely privileged to have got this opportunity of sitting next to him (Mr. Bachchan) and chatting while watching scenes on the monitor together.They know they are great actors, but they don't walk on the sets with that ego. They are probably not even aware of it, who knows (smiles). They made me feel extremely comfortable throughout the making of this film. Also, I already shared a great comfort level with Amitji, since we have known each other socially and have done a film, Aarakshan, together.

And what about Irrfan? Did the two of you meet before filming Piku?
Never! I don't think we had met even socially. We met each other on the first day of shoot, where a very big scene had to be shot, and that is when I met him for the first time. Somewhere I feel that has worked for the film, because in a way, the film explores how Piku and Rana discover each other and fortunately for us, we have shot the film linear, which helped. Irrfan turned out to be completely opposite of what I had thought. I always thought he would be very strict, stern and not talk much. But he has a great sense of humour and is extremely shy. But I completely get that because I am also like that as a person.

Piku's look has been creating a lot of buzz for all the right reasons. How would you define Piku's style?
Extremely easy going, functional, simple and very, very comfortable. I can relate a lot to Piku's personal style. No added efforts to look stylish. Piku always tries to keep her look elegant and functional at the same time. She believes in looking presentable, but at the same time, the outfits are such that can help her multi-task and perform different tasks.

How do you juggle multiple films, especially when one film genre's is different from the other?
Well, its not really easy and does get a little complicated, especially if you are a girl. I would also say that it is certainly not the most ideal way of working. Ideally, one prefers to prepare for one role, start working on it, complete it, take a small break and then move on to another project. But in reality, it is not always the ideal situation that works. In our industry, working out other people's dates and other requirements also have to be taken into consideration. 

As an actor, have there been times when the character of a film has influenced you so much, that is has stayed with you for long, even in real life?
Absolutely! It happens with certain characters. Cocktail is one such example. I was playing a character like Veronica, who is completely opposite to what I am as an individual. I am not someone who will be partying and dancing all night like Veronica, so playing a role like that for six months was liberating. I was definitely enjoying myself.

You have seen both critical and commercial success in your career. Does that give room for being more experimental in the kind of roles you choose now?
I started off with an amazing debut and then, a string of films didn't really do well. It was only post Cocktail that things began looking upwards. So, I never take anything for granted in my life. Yes, I have seen a good mix of both critical and commercial success, which does give me confidence (a little bit). Otherwise, I would have never had the confidence to do a Finding Fanny right after a film like Goliyon ki Rasleela... RamLeela. But then, that also has a lot to do with where the audience is right now. It is a combination of a lot of things - the kind of films that the audience is ready to watch, the kind of scripts that are being written, the kind of directors who are willing to work on such films. Its not just about where I am in my career at the moment.

With films starring women as central protagonists doing well, do you think this is an exciting time for female actors in Bollywood?
Definitely! And it is not just for female actors alone. It is a very exciting time to be a part of films today. The kind of scripts that are being written, the way directors are thinking and the kind of roles that female actors are being offered; everything is perfect. At least for me personally, these are very exciting times.

Personally, do you plan things for the future or take things as they come?
Its a little bit of both. You need to have some sort of goal, ambition and direction to figure out where you are headed. But at the same time, you can't plan too much, because life itself is so unpredictable. So, I always balance things. If you ask me what I will be doing ten years from now, I will have no answer. But if you ask me about my plans for the next one - three years, of course I will have an idea about what I want for myself. And then, you leave some space in between, because you know anything and everything is possible.

The Dancebee

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Priya Adivarekar

Priya Adivarekar - Founder and Creative Director at Diary of a Dancebee. She is also a renowned Voice Actress and award winning artiste, with serious passion for dance. When not working round the clock, she can be seen reading, enjoying a movie-binge or listening to music.
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