5 Deepika Padukone performances: Ranked

Deepika Padukone is a star and there are no two thoughts about it!

As India fights another movement, another bill, Deepika Padukone is making headlines. As our farmers go on strike tomorrow (September 25) against agriculture Bills passed in Parliament, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has summoned Deepika Padukone on the same day. It happened when Rhea Chakraborty was first called by the NCB and it’s happening again, and of course our very ‘aware’ and ‘responsible’ media houses will cover Padukone’s journey from her car to the NCB, rather the strike.

Yesterday, we put out a post understanding why Deepika Padukone, particularly has been cornered in this situation. Our conclusion was:

In times like these, we thought why not think of Deepika Padukone for what she’s done and achieved professionally. In the comments in the above Instagram post, someone has commented how Padukone and many like her are only pushing their agenda and that happens when you have “easy money”. Deepika Padukone made her debut with Om Shanti Om in 2007. But it was when Cocktail (2012) happened that she finally got recognition for the potential that lay in her. Yes, Love Aaj Kal (2009) was also there, but she was never seen as the next big thing. Today, she is the big thing and it is only because she worked upon her craft, film after film, to be able to deliver the kind of performances she does. It took Padukone five years to establish herself as a good enough actor, plus years of struggle before Om Shanti Om. How is this “easy money”?

There’s still a lot of scope for improvement, there always is, but that she’s had it easy is the wrong thing to say. Maybe she’s had it easy after Ram Leela, but to even get there, that would’ve definitely not been easy. And even today, whatever films she chooses to be a part of require her to work towards the characters, even that is effort, that is work and it’s so not “easy”. While the world is out there, suddenly against Padukone, we list five of our favourite performances by her…

#5 Chennai Express

Deepika Padukone as Meenalochani in Chennai Express; Source: Red Chillies Entertainment

Chennai Express was definitely did not fall into either the grand or artsy genre of films. It was wholly a masala entertainer. I’ll be honest, I laughed a lot during the film, but the truth is it wasn’t a good film. This was not Rohit Shetty’s best work, and neither did it match up to the potential of himself as a writer-director or that of Shah Rukh Khan. But truth be told, I enjoyed watched Deepika Padukone as Meenalochani. You know someone has done their job as an actor when they work especially on the dialect. Padukone’s thick accent really helped me sit through, and enjoy the film to some extent.

#4 Cocktail

Deepika Padukone as Veronica in Cocktail; Source: Eros Now

Back in the day, when Homi Adajania’s Cocktail had released, it was Deepika Padukone’s biggest film ever. May be not in terms of box office success, but definitely in terms of performance. With films like Desi Boyz, Break Ke Baar and more, Padukone couldn’t really do much before Cocktail. But here, she was a revelation! Earlier all her performances were always on the surface. It was Veronica (her character) that made Padukone go deeper to explore the raw emotions of this character. And maybe that’s what Sanjay Leela Bhansali saw in her!

#3 Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

Deepika Padukone as Naina in YJHD; Source: Dharma Productions

Deepika Padukone’s performance in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, and the sheer beauty of this film (frame wise) makes me go back to it again and again. Up until this film, I wasn’t convinced of Deepika Padukone as an actor, I’ll be honest. I had loved her in Cocktail, but on most days I thought that it may be a one time thing. But it wasn’t! As Naina, she was just perfect – sweet, innocent, likeable; all of it together. While the film did lack in content, but director Ayan Mukherji knew what he wanted off Padukone and got it too.

#2 Tamasha

Deepika Padukone as Tara in Tamasha; Source: Netflix

Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha is a film like no other. It’s an experience, a joy. It celebrates the idea of storytelling and no matter what its fate, the truth is that Tamasha is a highly underrated film, and it asks you to imagine the world like a storyteller for you to enjoy in wholly, which most of us couldn’t. While I loved Ranbir Kapoor and his Ved, for me Tamasha worked the most only when Deepika Padukone’s Tara was on screen. Yes, her character was more interesting, more well written. But there’s something very irresistible about Padukone’s eyes that makes you want to watch her more, and she somehow manages to convince you that she is, in fact, a good actor.

#1 Piku

Deepika Padukone in and as Piku; Source: Sony Pictures Networks Productions

That I have a natural affinity towards films based in Calcutta is a fact but that’s not why Padukone’s performance in Piku is my favourite performance of hers (or is it?). Many of Juhi Chaturvedi’s films don’t have a set plot. Her films are about characters, dialogues, conversations. Dan in October, Mirza in Gulabo Sibato, and of course, Piku, Bhashkor and Rana in Piku. “Piku,” the film and the character both speak with simplicity and ease, and Deepika Padukone fits right into the mould that Chaturvedi and director Shoojit Sircar create for her. There’s no glamour in this film. Just regular, normal conversations in a regular, normal house. And Padukone makes it all so, for the lack of better words, regular and normal. She’s sharing screen space with two of Hindi Cinema’s finest actors, and yet, not for a single second do they overpower her performance – she’s that good! I sincerely hope there is a sequel to this film, because it’s been five years since the release of this film, and I’m still not over this character, this performance.

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