MUMBAI,Nayandeep Rakshit: She’s played a Tamilian, a Punjabi and a Marathi mulgi. And now, Deepika Padukone is all set to wow everyone with her Bengali avatar in 'Piku'. In between simmering cups of coffee and a lot of smiles, the actress opens up about her latest film and the choices she makes in life.
Do you think it’s important for actors to find themselves in the characters they play on screen?
I feel certain characters do stick to you. You may not identify with every aspect of the character you are playing, but there are certain situations or ideologies of the character that you might identify with in your personal space. I guess that’s the process that has worked for me. Being a daughter, I identify with certain situations in Piku. But Amitabh Bachchan's character in the movie is very different from the way my father is in real life. So the situations are obviously different, but the respect and admiration I have for my father are things I try to harness once I walk on to the set.
The promos hint at how well the characters have been sketched. Did that help you perfect the nuances of Piku, the character?
Definitely! The way Shoojit and the writers have written it, half our job was done. Piku is about the nuances. You get hints, yet you won’t know what’s on her mind presently. So yes, Shoojit sir guided me really well.
Being a daughter, I feel I have now started valuing my parents a lot more. I stay away from them and don't get to meet them that often because of my busy schedule. But I will hopefully make it a point to be more available to them now onwards.
Other than being a caring daughter and a responsible girl taking care of her work and family, is there any other shade to Piku?
There is a lot of chaos in her mind. It’s not just the physical chaos which you see on screen. Piku is multitasking and is a lot like all of us today. I think women multitask brilliantly - balancing work, trying to figure time for family, for yourself - it’s about what every woman does today. In that sense, I found the character interesting. You can’t see the chaos in her mind, but you can feel it. She doesn’t get time for herself and her frustration comes from that. Her life is very mundane and there’s nothing exciting about it, which is why she gets really frustrated at times.
Did you learn some Bengali?
Very little! And whatever I learnt, it was from the script. It was so detailed and to the point that once I was there, I just went and performed it. There were a lot of scenes and places in the film where I could express something without saying a line, so I did a little bit of tweaking there. Other than that, there was a Bengali character on the set for guidance. I didn’t have to go and take diction classes for the character to sound like a Bengali. But I did learn a bit of Bangla. There is that essence of Bengal and them being a Bengali family, but the story is of every Indian household and it could have been anyone.
Usually in Bengali, you have an official name and an endearing dak-naam. Who came up with Piku?
Honestly, it’s a cute name, but it is my actual name in the film. It’s not my dak-naam in the film.
Working with Irrfan and Big B again, did you feel intimidated this time?
No, not this time. I wasn’t intimidated, so to say. Two things - I was really excited to have the opportunity to watch them act in front of me and secondly, I felt privileged to actually sit with Shoojit behind the monitor to see them (Big B and Irrfan) perform. I should also give credit to them because they never came on the sets with that attitude. They know they are great actors but they never walk with that air. So I felt really comfortable around them.
Who was more comfortable to work with- Irrfan or Big B?
There’s already a comfort level with Amitji because we have known each other socially and also done a film together. About Irrfan, I don’t think we had even met socially before Piku. We were shooting a very big scene on the first day with him. I thought he would be really strict, stern and not talk to anybody. But it turned out to be the opposite. He is very shy like me and has a great sense of humour. Fortunately, Shoojit shot the film at one go, so our own discovery of each other’s personal lives somehow added to the film in a strange way
Ever since Cocktail, you have received both critical and commercial acclaim for all your films. Does that instil more confidence in you to try out something as different as a Finding Fanny or a Piku?
I have seen a little bit of both in my career. I started off with an amazing debut but then had a string of films that flopped. Post Cocktail, everything has again started going upwards. But I don’t take anything for granted either way. Does it give me confidence? Yes, a little bit. I don’t think I would have done a Finding Fanny if this was not the case. But it also depends on where the audience is right now and the kind of films they watch and the scripts that are being written and the fact that many directors are ready to make such films. So it’s a combination of a lot of things. It’s not about where I am right now, it’s about a lot of other factors.
When we watch films, we tend to take a few characters home with us. Do you take your character with you after you are done with the shoot?
Yes, this definitely happens. There are some characters which you tend to take back with you. In Cocktail, for example, the character I played was completely opposite to how I am, so it stayed with me for a bit. I am not a party girl, I am not at all like her. So it gave me the opportunity to be someone I have never been before and I started enjoying myself. I found the experience very liberating.
Is it easy to switch from one role to the other?
I am mostly doing films back to back. So it does get a little complicated, because that’s not the ideal way of working. You want to prep for one film, shoot for it, finish it, take a break and then move on to the next one. But situations do not always allow you to do that. You need to work things out with other people’s dates as well. But the minute you start reading the material and go to that film set, meet the director and start talking about it, things fall in place.
Do you plan your life or take one day at a time?
I think it’s a little bit of both. You need to have your dreams, ambitions and goals in life and figure out how to go about them in your life. At the same time, you cannot plan it so much, because life itself is so unpredictable. To balance it a bit is the key. If you ask me what I want from myself 10 years from now, I won’t be able to answer. But if you ask what I want two years from now, that can be answered. You leave that space because you know anything is possible.