Deepika Padukone is easily one of the most influential Bollywood A-listers. The actress started out as an athlete-turned model who landed her debut role in Om Shanti Om opposite Shah Rukh Khan in 20017. Over a decade later, in 2020 she is the richest female celebrity in the Indian film industry, she has bagged multiple awards and she’s only just getting started. Her meteoric rise to fame has been documented in National Geographic’s documentary Mega Icons Season 2. Deepika’s episode takes us inside the success story of the woman the world has grown to love.
Let’s just start off by saying that Deepika Padukone has been crushing it in the past few years. The actress was initially known for her killer smile before she went on to prove her acting chops and strutted her substantial talents just as easily as she strutted down red carpets, stealing the spotlight on a global scale. Her growth is clear between Chennai Express and Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani to Piku and Chhapaak. She began to show an incredible range from 2013 onwards and has been unstoppable ever since. While we know Padukone’s filmography all too well, we have very little in the way of an insight into her everyday life. Mega Icons explores a raw and impactful detailing of Deepika’s life, the highs and lows of her career and personal life and her struggles with depression. Apart from playing out a rewind of her braggable achievements, the docu-episode brings some never-seen-before insights to light. Here’s what to expect from the episode and why it’s important.
We get to see Deepika Padukone through the perspective of her family and directors she has worked with. More importantly, we get to watch Ranveer Singh talk about key turning points in her life.
Mega icons’ episode featuring Deepika is a series of interviews with industry insiders. Director Shoojit Sircar and Imtiaz Ali open up about who she is behind the scenes. They have some interesting anecdotes that put her acting stints in perspective, especially about all the hard work that goes into her craft. Her parents Prakash and Ujjala Padukone come in with a rare chronicling of her childhood which largely revolved around badminton before she discovered modelling at 16. Comparing the progress of the actress from her early childhood to her entry in the film industry is a delight. The icing on the cake is that we get to watch her husband Ranveer Singh fangirl over her achievements. The actor is absolutely in awe of her strengths as he narrates her coming-of-age story and recent milestones.
Mega Icons casts an appreciative glance at Deepika’s experimental filmography.
After her first few films, Deepika wasn’t exactly a critics favourite. The actress starred in blockbuster movies like Race 2, Housefull
and Love Aaj Kal before moving on to radically different films like Tamasha, Ram Leela and Piku, defining and redefining her art. Roughly around 2013 she began to really own her narrative and delved into a bunch of experiments in cinema. Piku saw her in a de-glam role and it opened up a range of simple yet endearing facet of her acting skills. Then came the period drama phase with Ram Leela, Bajirao Mastani, she also ruled the box office (literally) as a Queen in Padmavat. Seldom do Bollywood stars risk experimentation after crossing a certain threshold of fame. As if unsatisfied with being a basic Bollywood star, Deepika explored a different side of stardom and watching that line-up is going to be a treat for fans.
Deepika Padukone opens up about mental health and her battle with depression and we should be paying attention.
Deepika Padukone was diagnosed with depression back in 2014 and she has been working towards de-stigmatising topics of mental health ever since. In the documentary, the actress speaks candidly about some of her most difficult experiences. The fact that we can’t think of a single other Bollywood celebrity who has opened up about depression is quite telling for a country with over 450 million people suffering from poor mental health. Deepika has been vocal about depression and decided to beat it head-on by starting The Live Love Laugh Foundation, impacting countless lives. She also won the Crystal Award at the World Economic forum this year for her inspiring efforts. The actress used her influence for something that really matters in an industry that has a hard time confronting such issues even in movies. The documentary has candid clips about Padukone describing how she took charge of her health and she remains unafraid of putting that deeply personal part of her life out there for the world to see and learn from. This is undeniably something her fans need to see.
Deepika Padukone is now a star who can get any role she wants but she chooses to forge her own path. She is all set to take on the role of a producer in the Bollywood remake of The Intern. The actress will now own her narrative both onscreen and offscreen and that’s a pretty cool move. Catch the full episode featuring Deepika Padukone in Mega Icons Season 2 on September 20 at 7 PM IST on National Geographic.
Cover image: National Geographic India/YouTube