Deepika Padukone (born January 5, 1986, Copenhagen, Denmark) is one of the most successful Bollywood actresses of the early 21st century. A global fashion icon and an ambassador for renowned brands such as Louis Vuitton and Cartier, Padukone is known for her striking looks and for the roles she played in several top-grossing Bollywood movies.
In 2023 Padukone was one of the highest-paid actresses in India, and since 2016–17 she has been among the highest-tax payers in the country. Like many other high-achieving individuals, Padukone has worn many hats over the years: ace badminton player, model, actress, mental health advocate, brand ambassador, producer, investor, and entrepreneur, among others.
Deepika Padukone was born to Ujjala Padukone, a travel agent, and Prakash Padukone, a renowned badminton player who put India on the sport’s international map. Deepika Padukone and her sister, Anisha Padukone, grew up in Bangalore [now Bengaluru] and had a flair for sports. Deepika Padukone was a national-level badminton player before she ventured into acting at the age of 16, and Anisha Padukone was one of the top 10 amateur golfers in the country in her teens.
Although Deepika Padukone took up a few modeling assignments while she was in school, her formal foray into the world of modeling started when she was in college. She made her runway debut in the 2005 Lakme India Fashion Week in Delhi, walking the ramp for designer Suneet Varma.
Actress and producer
Padukone started her movie career with Aishwarya (2006), a Kannada movie. She was picked for her first Bollywood movie, Om Shanti Om, after she got noticed as a model by director Farah Khan. The movie became the top-grossing Bollywood film of 2007. Padukone played a Hindi film actress in Om Shanti Om. The slightly offbeat Finding Fanny (2014) showed her in the role of a young widow who sets off on a road trip to help a friend. Padukone starred in Piku (2015) opposite the ageless Amitabh Bacchan, playing a daughter who tries to figure out life with an aging health-obsessed father (played by Bacchan). She made her Hollywooddebut in 2017 with xXx: Return of Xander Cage, starring Vin Diesel. In the historical Bollywood dramaPadmaavat (2018), Padukone appeared as Padmavati, a Rajput queen. Padukone’s husband, Ranveer Singh, played ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn Khaljī (Alauddin Khalji), a ruler of the Delhi Sultanate. Although some characters portrayed in Padmaavat are based on historical figures, the movie’s story is said to be based on an epic composed by Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi and is considered to be a work of fiction. Padmaavat aroused controversy when a fringe group in the state of Rajasthan took offense, claiming that the movie depicted Queen Padmavati in a bad light. The movie was banned in some Indian states and was finally released after modifications.
Padukone’s movies and actions have aroused controversy on other occasions as well. She endured a backlash in 2020 when she expressed solidarity with students at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) by joining their protest against a mob attack on students on the campus. Some called Padukone’s presence during the protest vigil a stunt to promote her upcoming movie Chhapaak (an onomatopoeic Hindi word for “splash”). A call to boycott Padukone’s film was issued by various right-wing groups that were politically opposed to students at JNU, who had been protesting a recent fee hike at the university and had joined the larger countrywide protests against the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act. (The protests against the legislation were based on concerns that it goes against India’s secular constitution.) On the whole, however, her gesture received support from many quarters.
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Padukone turned producer for Chhapaak, a biographical movie about a real-life acid attack survivor, played in the movie by Padukone. (An acid attack is a form of violence in which a person, usually a woman, is splashed with acid or some other corrosive substance, usually with the intention of disfiguring, torturing, or killing the person.) Padukone produced the movie with Meghna Gulzar and Govind Singh Sandhu. In an interview given to Outlook magazine in 2020, she called her acting role in the movie her most emotionally and physically challenging so far.
In 83 (2021), a biopic on the famous cricketer Kapil Dev and the Indian team that won the 1983 Cricket World Cup (India’s first World Cup win), Padukone played Romi Dev, the wife of Kapil Dev, who was played by Padukone’s real-life husband. Padukone also coproduced 83. The movie wasn’t very successful at the box office, but it earned critical acclaim for the honest portrayal of legendary cricketers. Padukone appeared in Bollywood blockbusters Pathaan and Jawan in 2023, starring with superstar Shah Rukh Khan, and she will be seen in Fighter, a movie about aviators, in 2024.
Mental health champion
Padukone struggled with depression in 2014. Once she learned how to manage her illness, she publicly disclosed her diagnosis in the hope of countering the taboo that exists around seeking help for mental health issues. She not only gave candid interviews about this phase but also went on to start the LiveLoveLaugh Foundation, an organization that seeks to “create awareness about mental health, reduce stigma associated with mental illness, and provide credible mental health resources.”
Padukone has endorsed many brands, including such Indian names as Liril, Asian Paints, Jio, Tanishq, and Axis Bank and such globally recognized brands as Coca-Cola, Tissot, L’Oreal Paris, and Levi’s. In 2022–23 she became the brand ambassador for iconic fashion house Louis Vuitton, French jeweler and watchmaker Cartier, and Qatar Airways.
Investor and entrepreneur
Padukone set up KA Enterprises, a venture capital firm, in partnership with Prakash Padukone, her father, in 2014. The firm invested in Indian start-ups such as all-natural Greek yogurt brand Epigamia, space tech company Bellatrix Aerospace, e-mobility company BluSmart, travel accessories brand Mokobara, digital pet-care platform Supertails.com, female hygiene product company Nua, and coffee brand Blue Tokai.
In 2022 Padukone founded 82°E, a skin-care line “that’s Indian in its ethos and global in its outlook,” with venture capitalist Jigar Shah. The brand’s name is based on 82 degrees east longitude, “the standard meridian that runs longitudinally through India and shapes our relationship with the rest of the world.”
In 2007, the year she debuted in Bollywood with Om Shanti Om, Padukone won two Filmfare Awards: for best female debut and Fresh New Face of the Year. She received her third Filmfare Award in 2013, for best actress in a leading role in Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram Leela. In 2015 she won that award again—this time for her performance in Piku. CNN-IBN, a partnership between Global Broadcast News (GBN) and Turner International in India, awarded Padukone the title Indian of the Year in 2013. Three years later Forbes magazine ranked her among the 10 highest-paid actresses in the world. Time magazine has honored Padukone many times. She was featured on the 2018 Time100 list, Time’s annual roster of the 100 most influential people in the world. Then in 2022 she received the Time100 Impact Award, which recognizes “global leaders who have gone above and beyond to move their industries—and the world—forward.”
In 2019 Grazia India magazine named Padukone Millennial of the Year. That same year, global public opinion and data company YouGov recognized her as one of the world’s most admired women. In 2020 Padukone received the World Economic Forum Crystal Award for her leadership in raising mental health awareness. She has won many more awards, for her acting skills, beauty, and work as a mental health ambassador. Time magazine’s May 2023 feature, “Deepika Padukone Is Bringing the World to Bollywood,” highlighted Padukone’s unique achievement: making a global impact while still being rooted in India.