After her successful turn in Piku with Amitabh Bachchan, it seems Deepika can do no wrong.
And with two new films coming out this year, Deepika's come a long way from her time as a model and aspiring actress. She spoke to Fimfare.com about her early days and how she broke into Bollywood, revealing some surprising details.
Deepika's big break
When she resolved to launch herself in show business, the 16-year-old Deepika was seriously lacking funds. So her mother lent her 10,000 rupees that allowed her to hire a photographer to do her shoot. A friend did her make-up and she wore her own clothes. She was elated with the result, though in retrospect, she thinks the photos were 'Yuck!'.
"Till date, I keep telling (my mother) to take back that money because I am what I am because of that amount. She refuses to take it. That was a lot of money back then," Deepika told Filmfare.
Together, mother and daughter sent her shoot to all the photographers Deepika works with today. They were lucky: Deepika got selected for a beverage ad, which was aired only in Chennai. R Balki, who happened to be in Chennai at the time, saw it and called her in to audition to be the face of a big soap brand. She bagged that deal, and the ball got rolling. Her aunt's friend, the photographer Atul Kasbekar, told her that if she really wanted to make it big, she'd have to move to Mumbai. And so, she moved...
But before Bollywood, there was badminton.
Before she decided to be an actor and model, Deepika was following her father's footsteps and training to be an athlete from a very young age. Her life was carefully structured around her badminton training: she woke in the wee hours of the morning to attend practice at 5:15am, went to school, then went to the courts to practise some more, attended her tuition classes before calling it a night. It was only on Saturdays that she could sneak in an afternoon nap in her schedule, that too uneasily: "Sleeping in the afternoon was just not accepted at home. We could take a nap for just 30 minutes."
And her social life was scant. "I’d hardly see my friends. Sleepovers barely existed. Maybe once or twice a year I could go out with my friends. That also I had to start planning months in advance. How do I approach them? Which parent should I ask?"
Perhaps having hard taskmasters for parents was a blessing for Deepika: it took the discipline they instilled in her to get where she is today!