The release of Padmaavat has finally been announced. However Deepika has maintained her calm but one cannot miss the look of disappointment from her face. We caught up with Deepika on the eve of perhaps the most controversial release of her life.
We were told you didn't have to train much for the film?
My physical training was mainly for the Ghoomar song, other than that I had to learn the local dialect. The rest of the training was mental as I was preparing for play the character of one of the greatest princesses of all time.
The film has been going through a tough time and you have also been threatened...
As a woman, an actor, as an artiste and as a citizen, I don't feel angry. But I do feel let down. (The threats) were amusing as well (she lost her words here and there was a brief pause). But I definitely don't feel anger. Never. It does not worry me as an actress.
What about Rani Padmini struck you before you took up the role?
Her sacrifice for the people, her intelligence, her strength, her courage and her vulnerability are very inspiring as a woman and I can relate to her. Somewhere or the other a Padmavati is hidden in every woman.
So, what research material did you base your role on?
I wouldn't want to tell you what I have read. It's been restricted. I have to say that I have read enough and we have researched the film long enough. Sanjay (Leela Bhansali) provided enough material to execute that role.
Shahid is stickler for perfection how was your experience?
He is very pleasant and very warm. I am glad we got the opportunity to work together. We have been wanting together on some films but didn't work out.
Forget about a romantic scene, we want to ask you if there are any scenes between Alaudin Khilji and the Princess?
It feels silly to sit and clarify every single time what we are doing as far as the film is concerned. Having said that, we are well aware of the fact that there are no romantic scenes between them. We have stuck to our source and we have taken utmost care to respect the sentiments of all people. There are no scenes in the film that can hurt sentiments.
This is your third film with director Sanjay Leela Bhansali...
Yes definitely. As an actor, artiste and a human being, he has added a lot of value to my life. I have learnt a lot while working with him and every film that I have done with him... he has given me powerful female characters
All your three films with Sanjay Leela Bhansali have had a tragic ending...
You need to detach yourself from the film. However, I haven't started the process of detachment as yet because I don't think film is complete until it releases. Once the film releases, the process will start. I take a long time to come out of the characters. I don't think one can completely detach also. Somewhere a part of the character is left with you. You tuck it away somewhere inside you.
How do you look at your success and fame now?
I respect and value what I have achieved today because I have worked very hard to achieve it. I started working at a very young age and I have not got things easily. I have really worked hard to get where I am. I don't take it for granted and I value it a lot more today.
How do you deal with the weight of your own achievements?
It's the fact that I don't take it for granted speaks volumes about it. My journey has had a lot of sacrifices and dedication and determination as well. I have been working dedicatedly on my weaknesses and enhancing my strengths. A large part of it has been possible because of the support system that I have had. My family to a large extent has kept me grounded.
You have always got roles that have been very positive are you now open to playing dark roles?
The script has to excite me and the role has to be challenging enough. I am open to anything that will challenge me as an actor.
On one hand you are choosing films like Ram Leela and Padmavati and on the other you are doing films Finding Fanny and Piku. Are you trying to create a balance of some sort with the roles you do?
I wouldn't say balance but I want to do different kind of films and roles. There is no set formula or what kind of films one has to do. I look for films that challenge me as an actor and that is my only selection process. I don't go about thinking whether it's a big banner or a big budget venture. The role has to impress me first.
We heard that your next film is based on Gangster Rahima Khan famously known as Sapna Didi. Have you read Hussain Zaidi's book?
Yes, I loved her character the moment I read it. It was actually Vishal Bhardwaj who gave me the book and got me interested in it. After reading the book I am the one who forced Vishalji to make this film. But for some or the other reason, we both got busy. However I pursued him for two years to produce the film. I am looking forward to working with Irrfan again.
It's confirmed that you are doing the next instalment of XXX, so it's Hollywood time again?
It's too early to say anything at this point about the Part 4. Right now my energies are all focussed on Padmaavat.