More than just an Indian actor – why Deepika Padukone deserves a Cannes jury

Ffor the first time this year, Deepika Padukone will not be going to the Côte d’Azur to endorse a film or a beauty brand. She is now part of the Cannes jury. Since ‘ek chutki sindoor‘ to be the girl with a lion tattoo in the 2017 Hollywood film XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, Padukone has established herself as a force to be reckoned with not only in Bollywood but far beyond. She is a living embodiment of the phrase – “with great power comes great responsibility” and, like wine, she has improved over the years.

In 2018, she became the only Indian actress to feature in the Time 100 Influential People in the World. And now, as one of India’s top actresses, she will rightly join eight creme de la creme performers across the world in a judging panel for the 2022 Cannes Film Festival next month.

“Actor, producer, philanthropist and entrepreneur…” bed the bio under the name of Padukone published by the Cannes Film Festival. Since her debut in 2006 with the film Kannada Aishwarya, Padukone’s career trajectory is one for the books. As an underdog in the film industry, she has established herself as one of the most successful actresses in just 16 years, appearing in 38 films to date. But her journey hasn’t been entirely hunky-dory.

Read also : Deepika Padukone has shown that you can also vibrate power with silence – if you just stand up

From Om Shanti Om to Cannes

After the blockbuster Om Shanti Om (2007), movies like full house (2010), Race 2 (2013), Chandni Chowk in China (2009) put her in the standard “heroine” box in a movie that is marketed and manufactured as a big hero movie. But if there’s one thing we know about her, it’s that she can’t be pigeonholed into a “role.” Her carefree and fiercely independent Veronica in Cocktail (2012) to a diametrically opposed Naina in Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani (2013) gives an overview of the abundance of talent she carries.

Ditching the most predictable route to take after her father Prakash Padukone, a legendary badminton player, Deepika chose to switch gears to Mumbai – the city of dreams. After initial hitches, Padukone found his groove in 2012, with Cocktail and from there what has stuck with his audience is a long list of rich and fleshed out characters. Padukone has found the happy medium between being an “actor” and being a “superstar” – a delicate balance that few can manage.

His contemporaries – Sonam Kapoor and Katrina Kaif – entered the film industry around the same time. And just like Padukone, they also had to play the heroine of the hero in their early films. Not to mention Kapoor or Kaif’s talent or background, but Padukone has clearly emerged as a more versatile actor lacking any “star” support. Someone who continued to hone their craft, listen to reviews, and make better movie choices. This is perhaps the reason why she was chosen in the jury of Cannes.

Padukone will become the fourth Indian actor to be part of the jury that will award the Palme d’Or at the closing of the film festival, which runs from May 17-28. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, in 2003, was the first Indian artist to be part of the Cannes Film Festival jury. This was followed by Nandita Das (2005), Sharmila Tagore (2009) and Vidya Balan (2013).

Read also : It’s not fair to only have actors speak on social or political issues, says Deepika Padukone

Deepika Padukone and her “global” appeal

Although several Bollywood superstars can boast massive fan followings, there are only a handful of “desi” artists who have made it to the West. Other than Padukone, the only other name that comes to mind is Priyanka Chopra. While Padukone may only have one “movie” in the Hollywood years, his global fandom is gaining momentum by the day. At Vin Diesel words“Deepika is the best the Earth has to offer. She is not just here to represent India; she is here to represent the world.

Over the past decade, Padukone hasn’t just limited herself as an actress. In 2014, she confessed to going through a depression – a rarity for a mainstream actor to open up. The following year, she launched a foundation for mental health, LiveLoveLaugh Foundation. In a recent interview with film critic Anupama Chopra, she also mentioned, “Work-life balance is important and I have no intention of burning myself out.” It’s safe to say that an actor of his stature can afford to relax and take on fewer projects. But in a world where hustle culture is glorified – look no further than the Billionaire Kim Kardashian – it says a lot when a public figure like Padukone says it.

Not only sanity, but she’s also not afraid to “stand out” when it comes to battling political forces. In 2020, she stood alongside protesting students at Jawaharlal Nehru University while in Delhi on a promotional visit for Chhapaak (2020). You don’t have to be a public relations expert to predict that such a move would cost him dearly. After all, she comes from an industry where people are generally reluctant to talk about burning social issues, fearing the backlash.

With Padukone, you not only get a successful actor, but a responsible global citizen. It should be noted that the Cannes Film Festival was smart enough to highlight his achievements as a philanthropist and influencer.

Since launching her own production house, Ka Productions, she has spoken about the changes she wants to see in the industry – overtime pay, fair working conditions, nutritious food options and a healthy work-life balance. Judging by her journey so far, she’s here to break the norm and not follow it. Her performance at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival shows that her story is far from over – the sky is the ceiling for her.

Views are personal.

(Edited by Srinjoy Dey)

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