Together they can set the screen on fire—but they sure know how to keep it cool
Deepika Padukone is gorgeous, staggeringly successful and ambitious. Let’s get specific here: her beauty is backed by an athletic core—you get the sense that it won’t go away if she takes a break from her gym or make-up routine. She now occupies an enviable patch in the sun, loved by trade analysts and film critics alike. And she is dead serious about her plans to work with Woody Allen someday.
But she is not a Cool Girl—not by American author Gillian Flynn’s definition of Cool Girl anyway. She doesn’t belong to Flynn’s tribe of “pretender women,” the ones who make interviews easy by claiming to like burgers, backpacks and Game Of Thrones. She doesn’t sport a pretender accent. She doesn’t have a favourite superhero. She even hates Dubsmash. Instead, she is manically punctual. She stands up for causes on national television. She values family. And when asked what the coolest item in her wardrobe is, she says, without the least bit of irony, that it’s a mauve-and-gold Kanjeevaram her mother gave her.
It’s the end of a long shoot day—it’s 10.30pm—and we find ourselves in Padukone’s vanity van. She is folded into a two-seater couch with Ranveer Singh, still dressed in a pair of sequinned Discount Universe shorts from her last shot. The two share an easy camaraderie, having spent the better half of the year filming Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani, an epic love story scheduled for a December release. Singh has finally taken off the bowler hat he’s been wearing all day (“for the heat and the women”), allowing Padukone to tease him relentlessly about the wisp of hair he sports on his bald head to play Bajirao.
They’ve been terrific sports through the day, arm-wrestling for the camera, even swapping the pullover and pants printed with their names to humour us. All day, I’ve seen Padukone snack on a chocolate loaf and cheese poppers, making the women in the crew squint their eyes. Singh has walked around with a peacock-blue face fan and complained about being a prop a number of times. “Nobody looks at anything else when Deepika is in the frame,” he tells me now, adding playfully, “I wouldn’t.”