Deepika wears a dress by Fendi in this exclusive online cover
When it comes to fan devotion, Bollywood stars could teach even the biggest American entertainer a thing or two. That's certainly the case with India's top female actress, Deepika Padukone. The stunning 30-year-old, who gets mobbed wherever she goes in India, got the showbiz bug when she began modeling at 18, after having spent years as a top-level badminton player. Since making her film debut at 20, she has starred alongside most of India's biggest male superstars, including Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and John Abraham. Last year, she appeared in Homi Adajania's viral short film My Choice, which featured 99 Indian women talking about feminism and gender issues. She'll be making her Hollywood debut next year in xXx: Return of Xander Cage, costarring Vin Diesel, which means it's only a matter of time before Deepika hysteria hits stateside.
Tell me about filming xXx. Was the experience different from shooting back home?
I have to admit that before I left India, I was very, very nervous about working in a new environment with a new setup and new people. And, yes, I think the first couple of days there, it did take me a while to get used to a new environment and people I had never worked with before. But I think within a couple of days I got extremely comfortable, and I would say two things: One, I give credit to the people I've worked with for making me feel so comfortable and making me feel at home. And two: I'd also say [my experience was] a huge reflection of how much the Indian film industry has grown in the last couple of years, especially from a creative point of view and from a technical point of view and the professional point of view. It was amazing for me to see how many similarities there were between the two industries and I think that says a lot about the Indian film industry and something to feel extremely proud of.
Had you spent much time in America before filming the movie?
No. I'd visited America a couple of times as a child, and we have a lot of family that lives in America, but I'd never been there for work. xXx was my first experience and one that I'll never forget.
How important is it for you to have success outside of India?
More than achieving success outside of India, what I look forward to are the amazing creative experiences. I think as an actor and as an artist, you want to keep exploring. You want to keep challenging yourself, and if work outside of India gives me those opportunities, I think that's what I'm looking forward to the most, exactly like xXx. When I came back home, I remember telling a lot of my friends that from an emotional point of view and from a storyline point of view, xXx is exactly like any other Indian movie I think other than the fact that this movie is going to be in English. I'm very certain that the whole of India is going to connect with this movie. It was the excitement of working in a new environment and working with new people and challenging myself in new parts and new characters -- I think that's what I looked forward to the most.
Deepika wears a shirt and skirt by Gucci
You've said you love doing romantic comedies. Who would be your dream male costar?
As cliché as it may sound, for now, I would have to stick with Bradley Cooper or Ryan Gosling.
You teased the news of starring in xXx on social media when you posted the shot of you and Vin Diesel in front of the xXx logo. Is social media a big part of being an actor today? Which platform is your favorite?
Well I think social media is a bit contradictory to my personality. I'm someone who likes to keep things personal and private, and I'm not too comfortable with sharing my every mood and emotion. But what I appreciate about the platform is the fact that it gives me the opportunity to interact with my fans and to have that one on one direct connection with them. And if I had to really choose one platform, I think it would be Instagram because I think pictures really speak a thousand words and personally I'm someone who is very shy. I'm not someone who is very comfortable with expressing myself with words, but I like expressing myself through emotion, and I think images and photographs are a great medium for that.