Her Queenly Majesty - Deepika Padukone

In a country known for unparalleled regal luxury and grandeur, it is but natural for the cinema industry to gravitate towards royal and imperial themes as inspiration. A long list of classics like Mughal-E-Azam (1960), Ashoka the Great (2001), and Jodhaa Akbar (2008) bring out the affinity that B-Town has with royalty, and actress Deepika Padukone seems to have carved out a niche for herself in the genre. With two films (Ram-Leela and Bajirao Mastani) on royal themes already to her name, the six-time IIFA winner seems to be the
go-to face when it comes to portraying a royal character.

She was last seen in regal insignia in Bajirao Mastani, playing the role of Mastani, the second wife of Baji Rao I, a woman skilled in horse-riding, the use of weapons and dance. Deepika made a mark with her impressive acting and even showcased her talents at sword-fighting for the first time. Featured alongside Ranveer Singh and Priyanka Chopra in the tragic love story, Deepika sizzled in the traditional Marathi nauvari sari drape and jewellery like thushi necklaces and heavy gold ornaments.

Preparing for the role of Mastani was tough for the on-screen Piku, who underwent training in sword-fighting, horse-riding, and Kathak, in addition to strenuous physical routines. She terms Bajirao Mastani as her toughest film shoot so far. The hard work, however, paid off in the form of huge critical acclaim and best actress nominations.

The diva believes that preparing for a role not only helps an actor finish the project at hand, but also provides an opportunity to learn many things which will remain with the actor for the rest of her life. Her criteria for choosing a role are simple. She likes to go with her instincts, looks for a challenge and novelty, and goes ahead with the film if she can relate to the character. The Chennai Express star reveals that it is always more satisfying when an actor is approached by the director himself, as it makes the artist feel a lot more confident about herself.

She will soon be seen playing the lead role of Rani Padmini in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s historical drama, Padmavati, opposite Shahid Kapoor as Rawal Ratan Singh, while Ranveer Singh essays the antagonistic Allaudin Khilji. As per historical accounts, the Rani was a woman of such exceptional beauty that the Raja of Chitor risked his life to marry her, while several other men longed for her affection.

Deepika plays the role of a princess of the Singhala Kingdom who comes to India after marrying Rawal Ratan Singh. More than one battle is fought for her, and ultimately her husband is betrayed and subdued. Interestingly, the flick is expected to be Bollywood’s most expensive project till date. It also features Aditi Rao Hydari as Khilji’s wife.

Deepika had to wear such detailed and heavy jewellery for the movie, that it injured her neck and delayed the shoot by a few days.

The film, meanwhile, is Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus, and he took meticulous care to ensure that the element of Turkish and Singhalese royal dresses was well reflected in the attires of Deepika and Ranveer. The movie is a big landmark for Deepika, who wants to take Padmavati to Cannes.                     --- Jaideep Pandey