On Deepika Padukone’s birthday, what makes her one of the biggest stars in India

If you think Deepika Padukone’s career is already on steroids, watch it take another leap if faith this year. A producer and an actor, she has big projects in the pipeline this year, with big money riding on them. As the actor celebrates her birthday today, here’s deconstructing what makes her one of the most bankable actors in India today.

Deepika’s star power was recognised with her first Hindi hit, the popcorn cruncher Om Shanti Om where she played a star, Shantipriya, to Shah Rukh Khan’s long-haired struggler. The rest, as they say, is history. This year, Deepika will be seen in some of the most anticipated projects, few of which are already labelled as pan-India films. A long list of hits and critically acclaimed performances followed — Bajirao Mastani and Chennai Express, Cocktail and Padmaavat. One film that is especially close to the hearts of her fans is Piku.

Ronnie Lahiri, the producer of Shoojit Sircar’s Piku (2015) which also starred Amitabh Bachchan and Irrfan Khan, tells us that Piku wasn’t at all a commercial film, Deepika helped amp up its star power.

Ronnie tells us, “When she signed Piku, what she brought along her fan following, because we were not making an out-and-out commercial film. With her, a lot of new audience came in. So, from a producer’s point of view it is great. From a creative point of view, she added a lot with the director — Shoojit. Deepika is a big brand today and when she chooses to do a film it is mounted as a big film, and then that film automatically has an audience pulling power.”

So why do film producers sign her today, is it an economic call? Lahiri says, “In our case it was never like that, it is always the creative call. She was Shoojit’s first choice, because he could see her as Piku. While it is a business, but it all falls on the film. No matter how good or big an actor is or the director is, if the script is not right, nothing can save it. Ultimately we should all remember that the script is the biggest hero of any film. When the script is good and the actor that comes in is good then they make the film even bigger, and that’s the advantage of having a popular, big actor.”

Film trade analyst are known to keep a close watch on the movie business and a star’s market value. One such film analyst and producer Girish Johar tells us that Deepika is one of the biggest brands we have today and she has crores riding on her. “What kind of money is riding on her? Somewhere around 300 crores plus. This is her film grosses, along with the brands she represents. She is one of the biggest leading actresses in the country, filmmakers are banking on her for that and she is a big female star also. Deepika not only unite the nation when it comes to films, but also brings the world together.” Johar says, “Deepika has a huge international market as well.”

While Deepika’s creative calls are great, she also makes for a great business woman. She recently started her production house too, and has backed two films, one of which is Ranveer Singh’s 83. She has the remake of The Intern, co-starring Amitabh Bachchan, also in the pipeline. Deepika also stars in the film. Johar adds, “And, she is planning to make more films under her banner. This is a great decision for any star who is so big because making films under their own banner brings big bucks for them. Any sensible actor turned maker or a business person in the media line will eventually want to become a producer. Of course there is some risk attached. But, since you are a part of the industry and you already know your game, the risks are minimal and the money earned from the respective project is much more.”

While Deepika is a big star today, she has had a rough 2020 after Chhappaak not performing at the box office. Her performance, however, was appreciated. “Deepika is too big a star to be affected by one film failure. The film was appreciated by the audiences and critics. In fact, if you look at her graph, she has only grown with every given film, and hence she is one of the most bankable star-actor today,” Johar says.

Big stars also come with big egos. How is Deepika to work with? Lahiri says, “It was lovely, a great experience. She is a through professional, and very humble. She never threw any tantrum. When she is on set she blends perfectly like any other person on set.”

For the kind of money riding on her, Deepika also has an exciting line-up of films. She was last seen in Meghna Gulzar’s Chhapaak in 2020 before doing a cameo in 83, where she played Romi Dev, Kapil Dev’s wife, in the movie based on India’s World Cup win in 1983.

Here’s a look at her upcoming line-up of films:

1) Gehraiyaan

Deepika Padukone has called Gehraiyaan “A piece of my heart…”. Gehraiyaan, which is all set to release on Amazon Prime Video in February, also stars Siddhanth Chaturvedi, Ananya Pandey, Naseeruddin Shah and Rajat Kapur in pivotal roles. The movie has been jointly produced by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions and Viacom18 Studios in association with Shakun Batra’s Jouska Films.

2) Pathan

Pathan marks Deepika and Shah Rukh Khan’s fourth film together after Om Shanti Om, Chennai Express and Happy New Year. This Siddharth Anand and Aditya Chopra film is out there to redefine Indian cinema on the world map with its extravagant treatment. The film also stars John Abraham, and feature Salman Khan in a cameo appearance.

3) Project K

Project K is Deepika’s first pan-India film which is primarily being shot in Telugu. Deepika Padukone and Prabhas have begun shooting for the film. Directed by Nag Ashwin, Project K is a sci-fi film which will be produced on a massive budget by Vyjayanthi Movies. The film also stars Amitabh Bachchan.

Speaking about Deepika’s role in the movie, director Nag Ashwin had earlier shared in a statement, “I’m very excited to see Deepika play this character. It is something no mainstream lead has done before and will be quite a surprise for everyone. The pairing of Deepika and Prabhas will be one of the main highlights of the film and the story between them, I believe will be something audiences will carry in their hearts for years to come.”

4) Fighter

Fighter marks Deepika Padukone and Hrithik Roshan’s first collaboration. Hrithik has previously worked with Siddharth Anand in the 2019 film War, co-starring Tiger Shroff and Vaani Kapoor. The project was announced on Hrithik Roshan’s birthday in January this year.

5) The Intern Hindi Remake

The Intern’s Hindi remake stars Deepika Padukone and Amitabh Bachchan. Deepika turned producer with Chhapaak and soon announced yet another production venture with the Hindi remake of Hollywood hit The Intern. She had revealed details about the film in 2020 and shared, “The Intern is an intimate, relationship-driven film, set in and around the workplace; a story that I believe is very relevant to the present-day social and cultural environment. I have been looking for a light, breezy comedy-drama and this story fits in seamlessly. I cannot wait to begin this journey.”

6) Draupadi

It was announced back in 2019 that Deepika Padukone will play the central character of Draupadi in a lavish mythological drama based on Mahabharata. After the initial announcement Deepika and the makers have not given an official update on it.

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