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More Than Just An Actress – Meet Deepika Padukone, The Game Changer

She came, she saw and she conquered. The queen of hearts, Deepika Padukone, has emerged as one of the most powerful leading ladies. A brand to reckon with, anywhere you may be from – Mumbai to Meerut – there is no escaping her gaze peering down at you – from outdoor hoardings to inside showrooms.

She is charming, sporty in the true athletic sense and game to take on a challenge. Hates the spotlight on herself, yes you aren’t getting any quotable quotes out of her. Embracing her box office success with the same ease with which she announced that it wasn’t always happy at the top, Deepika was upfront about her battle with depression.

No stranger to fame, daughter of famous Badminton player Prakash Padukone, it’s Deepika’s humility that has struck me whenever we have met. I remember a senior editor once telling me, ‘It’s upbringing, she comes from good stock’.

A girl whose face is synonymous with success, Deepika is an influencer. With or without a release, there is no escaping her presence. Voted as the highest ranking Indian woman actor, she was one of the first to get a heavier remuneration than her male co-star.

A year since her last Padmavaat, the newly married Deepika Padukone is very much on top of her game, having announced her next project Chhapaak with director Meghana Gulzar.

The actress, who is all set to launch her own production company, had once told me “I love doing secretarial work, organizing stuff, making lists, sorting dossiers”, to which her then boy friend, now husband, Ranveer Singh had remarked, “She also has major OCD when it comes to symmetry, everything has to be in alignment”.

Well, her career graph seems to be perfectly aligned, and on her 33rd birthday I choose my top 5 Deepika performances. I am sure every one has their own favourite, these are mine!

1. Piku

Playing the eponymous character Piku in Piku, Deepika was the harried daughter, who constantly dealt with her hypochondriac father Bhaskor’s ‘bowel issues’. A grumpy, opinionated and funny father, who, when not discussing the state of his stool, had no qualms discussing his daughter’s sexual status, publicly. Deepika was endearing, giving a performance which was honest, unaffected and as real as it could get. Co-starring opposite Amitabh Bachchan and Irrfan, Deepika was her own star.

2. Cocktail

Now this one was a heady mix, though not a big fan of the film Cocktail, personally; it was Deepika as the bold, beautiful and blasé Veronica who impressed. Playing the free-spirited party girl, Deepika was uninhibited, and yes when she tries to shed her so called ‘fast girl’ image to win the love of her life, you felt for her. Though I found the story pretty regressive, but it was with this film that Deepika proved that you ain’t had seen nothing yet, and that she was here to stay.

3. Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela

The feisty, liberal Leela, who plays with guns with the same ease with which she romps with her lover in Ram-Leela. The film that made Deepika Bhansali’s muse, as she reunited with him for two more films – Bajirao Mastani and Padmaavat. Ram-Leela also holds special significance for both Deepika and Ranveer, the unscripted kiss between the two in the song Ang Laga De, sealed the deal – and the rest, as they say, is history.

4. Chennai Express

This was perhaps the one time the heroine managed to steal the hero’s thunder. Deepika showcased yet another facet to her personality, her impeccable comic-timing in the over the top, Chennai Express. The movie may have had many critics wondering ‘what was that about’, I solely enjoyed it for Deepika’s performance.

5. Om Shanti Om & Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani

And to end my top 5, it’s a tie between two of her films Om Shanti Om and Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani. The reason I mention Om Shanti Om, is because she made a confident debut in the reincarnation drama, she made her presence felt opposite superstar Shahrukh Khan. Having transitioned from the ramp to the marquee, Deepika could have been written off as just another pretty face, but the determination to succeed could be seen in those eyes.

A few years after a public break up, all eyes were on Deepika when she reunited with former boyfriend Ranbir in Ayan Mukerji’s Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani.

Playing the bespectacled Naina, who discovers a world outside her books and room – I thoroughly enjoyed her and Ranbir’s chemistry, the same which we saw in Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha. Two actors who complemented each other and brought out the best on screen.

A girl, who is more than her films and their successes, quoting her father’s letter at an awards ceremony which asked her and sister Anisha to be the “game changers in the world they live in”, it’s an advise she took literally.

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