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Only trade can answer as far as numbers are concerned regarding Bajirao Mastani’s clash with Dilwale: Deepika Padukone

deepikaWhen I meet her, she is dressed in a shiny silver skirt and a crop top. All she needs is a magic wand… or maybe not. Deepika Padukone has been having a great run at the box-office for the last couple of years and 2015 has been no exception. Her performance in Piku is considered one of her best so far followed by Tamasha in which her act has been described as luminous. Coming up, is Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s most ambitious film Bajirao Mastani that has her playing a woman whose legendary beauty mesmerised a Maratha warrior. Not surprisingly, Deepika says that it’s been a “fantastic year for her”. And though she had to juggle the shoot and promotions of three films, she has no complaints. “It’s not an ideal situation to be in, but I loved all three films and wouldn’t have given up even one,” she dimples. Here she talks about being a part of period films, doing two heroines projects and more…

How difficult is it to act in period films?
I have done two period films so far ” Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey with Ashutosh Gowariker and now Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani. In period films, especially those that are not fictional characters, the scope for actors become limited. That’s because there are real-life references within which the actor has to perform. At the same time it is interesting. For example, Bajirao Mastani has been a huge learning experience for me. In school, I didn’t have a chapter on these historical characters so through the film, I got to learn so much about their life. We will be able to educate people, especially youngsters who don’t know much about them either.

But there’s lot of controversy over the authenticity of the film regarding what is being portrayed vis-a-vis the facts. What is your reaction?
I would say the best person to ask about this is the director. Having said that I feel we are quick to jump to conclusions. Even during Ram-Leela a lot of controversies were unnecessarily created. It’s important to be a little patient, watch the film first and then decide. People are supposedly giving us facts, but they have not seen the film ” how do they know we are not sticking to the facts?

Any special preparations that you did for the role?
It was more of a mental preparation because I was juggling three films at the same time. I did a lot of reading on the character, and as far as physical challenges are concerned I learned horse riding, sword-fighting and Kathak. The advantages of being an actor is when for certain films and specific characters, you learn something, you end up learning it for a lifetime. In school I learnt Bharatnatyam for a few months, but for the film I learnt a completely different art form, something that will always come handy.

You acted with Ranveer Singh in Ram-Leela and now in Bajirao Mastani. Do you see any change in him as an actor?
Yes, he is confident and more settled as an actor today. During Ram-Leela, he was a little unsure of himself, but he has achieved a lot more stability.

You seem to have no qualms about doing two-heroine projects?
Solo heroine, two heroines or three heroines ” that thought has never crossed my mind. It’s a shallow way of looking at films. What is important to me is to be a part of films that will be remembered and play characters that could be iconic. The only thing that matters to me is whether my part is exciting, challenging, can I make it special and is it a film I will be proud of years later. Bajirao Mastani is Bhansali’s dream project. I did not ever imagine I would land up being his Mastani one day. When I was in school, I used to read about him wanting to make this film with different actors. That was even before I wanted to be an actor. Even when I became an actor, I never thought I could ever be a Sanjay Leela Bhansali heroine. When I made my debut in 2007, Saawariya released at the same time. I thought Sanjay will never work with me because I am not his type of heroine. Cut to eight years later, I have done two films consecutively with him.

You and Priyanka Chopra seem to have bonded well while shooting…
Well, we did not have too many scenes together ” just one song and two scenes. Whatever little work we had together, we had a great time working on them. Priyanka is someone I have known for many years, even before I entered in the industry. When I made my debut, she was already an established actor. In fact, she is the first film person I have interacted with. My relationship with her goes beyond films and the work we have done together.

There has been talk about your film clashing with Dilwale and both eating into each other’s business…
Only the trade can answer that as far as numbers are concerned. I have been never interested in them. The only thing that’s at the top of my mind is, my film is releasing tomorrow. What matters to me is what people think of the film? How do they feel after watching it? Is it something they will watch over and over again, it’s impact on their life and if they have liked my performance. I am only concerned with that.

Of all the characters that you have played so far, which is the closest to you?
Naina Talwar from Ye Jawaani Hai Deewani. The way she metamorphosed from being this girl in a shell, in a cocoon, to opening up and finding herself. It’s different, but I relate to that in the way I have evolved over the years. My journey has been of self-discovery, and that’s what I identify with and relate to.

What next?
I am reading a lot of scripts, but nothing has hugely excited me. I haven’t signed anything at the moment.

What about XXX with Vin Diesel?
I haven’t signed anything yet.

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