Deepika Padukone (pronounced [d̪iːpɪkaː pəɖʊkoːɳ]; born 5 January 1986) is an Indian film actress and model. One of the most popular and highest-paid Indian celebrities, she has established a career in Bollywood films, and is the recipient of two Filmfare Awards.
Alongside her acting career, Padukone participates in stage shows, has written columns for an Indian newspaper, is a prominent celebrity endorser for brands and products, and is vocal about issues such as feminism and depression.
Padukone has admitted to being 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 realised 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 modelled for various other brands and products. In 2005, she made her runway debut at the Lakme Fashion Week for designer Suneet Varma, and won the “Model of the Year” award at theKingfisher Fashion Awards. Padukone’s fame increased when she appeared in a highly 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 jewellery class he was teaching and signed her up with the Matrix 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 instead enrolled for 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 Happy New Year.