Deepika Padukone in TIME 100: How the Bengaluru girl made it to the most influential list

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At 32, Deepika Padukone is among TIME’s 100 influential people in the world. Quite a feat to achieve at her age. But then that’s Deepika for you. A fabulous actress, a stellar performer, a superstar and a diva.

11 years after this Bengaluru girl made her big-screen debut, Deepika has finally arrived and how. What makes her new achievement all the more memorable is the fact that she is the only Bollywood celebrity to make it to the list this year. At a time when almost every Bollywood star is opting for unique work and trying to make a difference to the society in their own little way, it is Deepika who has made it so far that she, today, is ‘influencing’ the world.

Indeed, a well-deserved mention.

RISE OF THE PHOENIX

Back in 2007 when Deepika began her Bollywood journey with Farah Khan’s Om Shaanti Om, little did anyone know that this girl from Bengaluru’s illustrious Padukone family would become a name to reckon with in Bollywood. When many made the mistake of writing her off as a one-film wonder after her debut film, Deepika worked hard with each film to make herself relevant in an industry that’s ruthless to underperformers.

But in the monsoon of 2012, Deepika made her critics and fans sit up and take notice of her. It was Homi Adajania’s Cocktail that made this phoenix rise from her ashes, and the country only gaped in awe.

2012 marked the birth of actress Deepika, and since then, there has been no looking back for his powerhouse of talent. Be it Chennai Express or Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela or Piku or Tamasha or the very recent Padmaavat, Deepika has proven her acting mettle with each of her films.

HOLLYWOOD DREAM

At a time when Deepika had already acquired an enviable position in Bollywood, thanks to box-office hits and interesting projects, the actress went to the West to try her hand at Hollywood. Her dreams of working in Fast and Furious 6 could not take flight due to work commitments, Vin Diesel offered her xXx: Return of Xander Cage. Deepika’s first brush with Hollywood was stuff dreams are made of.

Vin Diesel not only promoted Deepika by posting pictures with her on social media, but their crackling chemistry on the sets, too, became the talk of the town.

Such has been their camaraderie that Vin agreed to come down to Mumbai to promote xXx: Return Of Xander Cage on Deepika’s request. While the film received a lukewarm response in India owing to Deepika’s short screen-time, Return of Xander Cage was a massive hit in the US.

And their fondness for each other goes beyond film sets. Deepika’s citation in TIME had her good friend, Vin, saying that she deserved every bit of this fame.

“Anyone could talk about how beautiful she is, and anyone could tell you about her unmatched comedic timing. But she isn’t just a star. She’s an actor’s actor, dedicated to the craft. So often in the entertainment industry we deal in stereotypes, and people get stuck in certain markets. Deepika is the best Earth has to offer. She’s not just here to represent India; she’s here to represent the world,” were Vin’s words for Deepika.

CHOICE OF WORK

Deepika is undoubtedly one of the best talents in Bollywood, and that’s what makes her wary of her film choices. When many actors pick up stories and scripts just to be in the limelight, Deepika likes to choose quality over quantity. Such has been the extent of her choosiness that she has worked in only two films in the last three years.

In her own words, “I always choose films by instinct, but it’s also about how excited I am as an actor to be a part of a film’s journey and tell this story. My choices are never driven by anything else but that. I look at the film, see how important the story is and hope that the audience will also feel that same excitement when they watch the film. Like when they watched Piku.”

HIGHEST PAID ACTRESS

At a time when Bollywood’s pay disparity is a stark reality, Deepika Padukone is one of the highest paid actresses. It is no secret that Bollywood actors laugh their way to the bank but actresses are often paid peanuts in comparison to their male co-stars. But Deepika has managed to break the stereotype by getting more money than Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat.

She is said to have taken home Rs 12 crore for portraying Rani Padmini in the period drama. In fact, last year, only two actresses made it to the Forbes list of the top 10 highest paid Bollywood celebrities, and Deepika Padukone was one of them. The other actress in the list being Priyanka Chopra.

A VOICE ON DEPRESSION

Bollywood celebrities often act like stars that are far from anyone’s reach. When most of their fans look at them with starry eyes, Deepika bared her soul as just another normal girl who fought depression and anxiety. Unlike other celebrities, Deepika didn’t mind opening up on the darkest period of her life and how she had to take medication and clinical counselling to get back in form.

Later, the actress founded an institution to help people battling mental health as she didn’t want anyone to go through what she had.

Vin Diesel wrote for TIME, “So often in the entertainment industry we deal in stereotypes, and people get stuck in certain markets.”

With 11 years of hard work, choice of films and being the person that Deepika is, she has conquered her market and made it big in others.

TIME, today, must be happy to give her a place on their 100 most influential list.