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Deepika Padukone (pronounced [d̪iːpɪka pəɖʊkoːɳeː] or [paːɖʊkoːɳ]; born 5 January 1986) is an Indian actress who works predominantly in Hindi films. She is one of the highest-paid actresses in India, and her accolades include three Filmfare Awards. She features in listings of the nation's most popular personalities; Time named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2018 and awarded her the TIME100 Impact Award in 2022.
Padukone, the daughter of the badminton player Prakash Padukone, was born in Copenhagen and raised in Bangalore. As a teenager, she played badminton in national-level championships but left her career in the sport to become a fashion model. She soon received offers for film roles and made her acting debut in 2006 as the title character of the Kannada film Aishwarya. Padukone then played a dual role opposite Shah Rukh Khan in her first Bollywood release, the romance Om Shanti Om (2007), which won her the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut. Padukone received praise for her starring role in the romance Love Aaj Kal (2009), but this was followed by a brief setback.
The romantic comedy Cocktail (2012) marked a turning point in her career, and she gained further success with starring roles in the romantic comedies Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Chennai Express (both 2013), the heist comedy Happy New Year (2014), Sanjay Leela Bhansali's period dramas Bajirao Mastani (2015) and Padmaavat (2018), and the Hollywood action film XXX: Return of Xander Cage (2017). She also received critical acclaim for playing a character based on Juliet in Bhansali's tragic romance Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013) and a headstrong daughter in the comedy-drama Piku (2015), winning two Filmfare Awards for Best Actress. Following a short hiatus and two commercially unsuccessful productions under her own company Ka Productions, Padukone starred in her highest-grossing Indian film, Pathaan (2023).
Padukone is the founder of The Live Love Laugh Foundation, which creates awareness of mental health in India. Vocal about issues such as feminism and depression, she also participates in stage shows, has written columns for a newspaper, designed her own line of clothing for women, and is a prominent celebrity endorser for brands and products. Her other ventures include startup investments and a self-care brand. Padukone is married to her frequent co-star Ranveer Singh.
Padukone was born on 5 January 1986 in Copenhagen, Denmark, to Konkani-speaking parents. Her father, Prakash Padukone, is a former professional badminton player and her mother, Ujjala, is a travel agent. Her younger sister, Anisha, is a golfer. Her paternal grandfather, Ramesh, was a secretary of the Mysore Badminton Association. The family relocated to Bangalore, India when Padukone was a year old. She was educated at Bangalore's Sophia High School and completed her pre-university education at Mount Carmel College. She subsequently enrolled at the Indira Gandhi National Open University for a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts with her modeling career.
Padukone has said that she was socially awkward as a child and did not have many friends. The focus of her life was badminton, which she played competitively from a young age. Describing her daily routine in a 2012 interview, Padukone said, “I would wake up at five in the morning, go for physical training, go to school, again go for playing badminton, finish my homework, and go to sleep.” Padukone continued to pursue a career in badminton throughout her school years and played the sport in national-level championships. She also played baseball in a few state-level tournaments. While concentrating on her education and sporting career, Padukone also worked as a child model, first appearing in a couple of advertising campaigns at the age of eight. In the tenth grade, she changed focus and decided to become a fashion model. She later explained, “I realized that I was playing the game only because it ran in the family. So, I asked my father if I could give up the game and he wasn't upset at all.” In 2004, she began a full-time career as a model under the tutelage of Prasad Bidapa.
Early in her career, Padukone gained recognition with a television commercial for the soap Liril and modeled for various other brands and products. In 2005, she made her runway debut at the Lakme Fashion Week for designer Suneet Varma and won Model of the Year at the Kingfisher Fashion Awards. Padukone's fame increased when she appeared in a popular print campaign for the 2006 Kingfisher Calendar; the designer Wendell Rodricks commented, “Since Aishwarya Rai, we haven't had a girl as beautiful and fresh.” Rodricks had spotted her at a Ganjam jewelry class he was teaching and signed her up with the Matrix talent agency. At the age of 21, Padukone relocated to Mumbai and stayed at her aunt's home. That year, she gained wider recognition by featuring in the music video for Himesh Reshammiya's song "Naam Hai Tera".
Padukone soon began to receive offers for film roles. Believing herself to be too inexperienced as an actor, she enrolled in a course at Anupam Kher's film academy. Following much media speculation, the director Farah Khan, who had noticed her in Reshammiya's music video, made the decision to cast her for a role in her upcoming film, then named Happy New Year. Rodricks also takes credit for helping her get the role. Khan was looking for a model to star in the film, and got in touch with Malaika Arora. Rodricks, for whom Padukone had been modeling for roughly two years then, recommended her to Arora, a close friend of his, who in turn recommended her to Khan.
Padukone made her acting debut with Aishwarya (2006), a Kannada film directed by Indrajit Lankesh. The romantic comedy was a remake of the Telugu film Manmadhudu, and she was cast in the title role opposite the actor Upendra. The film proved to be a commercial success. RG Vijayasarathy of Rediff.com was appreciative of Padukone's screen presence but added that “she needs to work on her emotional scenes.” By the end of 2006, Farah Khan's Happy New Year was shelved, and Khan had instead cast Padukone for the melodrama Om Shanti Om (2007). Set against the backdrop of the Hindi film industry, the film tells the story of a struggling actor who is reincarnated to avenge the death of a film star. Shah Rukh Khan starred as the lead, and Padukone featured in dual roles as a star in the 1970s, and later, an aspiring actress.
In preparation, Padukone watched several films by actresses Helen and Hema Malini to study their body language. Her voice was dubbed by the voice artist Mona Ghosh Shetty. For one of the songs in the film, "Dhoom Taana", Padukone drew upon Indian classical dance, and according to Dorling Kindersley, "mesmeriz[ed] audiences" by using hasta mudras (hand gestures). Om Shanti Om emerged as the highest-grossing Hindi film of the year, with a global revenue of ₹1.49 billion (US$19 million). Taran Adarsh of the entertainment portal Bollywood Hungama opined that she had "all it takes to be a top star", and she was awarded the Filmfare Best Female Debut Award and received her first Filmfare Award for Best Actress nomination. Bollywood Hungama reported that the success of Om Shanti Om proved a breakthrough for her.