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Bring On The Girl

Friday, December 11, 2015
By Deepa Gahlot

It’s almost the end of the year, two big films—Dilwale and Bajirao Mastani—coming up next week and then a break till early January. So it’s not too early to look back at the year gone by.

Over the last few years, Bollywood actresses are coming into their own; if the industry complaint was that female centric films don’t make money, the problem has been addressed somewhat with the commercial success of films in which the female lead had as big or a bigger part than the male. In a couple of rare cases, the actress also made more money than her co-star.

If 2014 was the year of Queen and Kangana Ranaut, then 2015 has to be the year of Deepika Padukone—with Piku, Tamasha and Bajirao Mastani keeping her at the top of the heap.  Her evolution as an actress has been remarkable, leaving her contemporaries struggling to keep up. She has that combination of beauty, talent, sophistication and a  good temperament that doesn’t come together too often. Not for male actors either—the best looking ones are not great actors, and these days almost every star wears his/her brattishness like a badge of honour. Deepika also won a lot of goodwill for speaking out about depression and making millions of ordinary people feel better about their condition. That she was really sorted about her personal life—not letting the break-up with Ranbir Kapoor affect her working relationship, and not allowing the romance with Ranvir Singh come in the way of her success—was an enviable feat of balance.

Deepika came into the industry with impeccable credentials—as the daughter of badminton star Prakash Padukone and very successful model—so she did not have to struggle. After one Kannada film (Aishwarya), she got her dream break opposite Shah Rukh Khan in Farah Khan’sOm Shanti Om, and that was all she needed as a calling card. In the beginning, it was her beauty and glamour that stood her in good stead. Films like Bachna Ae Haseeno and Chandni Chowk to China did not even require her to show any acting talent.  It was in Love Aaj Kal that a glimmer of her potential was glimpsed.

Films like Housefull, Kartik Calling Kartik, Lafangey Parinde, Break Ke Baad, Khelein Hum Je Jaan Se did nothing for her career.  Cocktail and Race 2 did well, but they were not exciting for an actress trying to impress with her talent.

The success of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Chennai Express and Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram Leela helped her turn the corner and show that she could look great and act just as well too. These two, followed by  Finding Fanny, Happy New Year, Pikuand Tamasha sealed the deal—and made Deepika Padukone the most accomplished actress of her generation. Bajirao Mastani will only help strengthen her position, regardless of its fate at the box-office.

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