New Delhi | "I don't know if I'm supposed to feel something about it," says "global star" Deepika Padukone, who features on the cover of TIME magazine, in response to a question on the "constant political backlash" she has been facing over the years.
The cover, featuring Padukone in an oversized beige pant-suit and barefeet, goes with the headline "The Global Star: Deepika Padukone Is Bringing the World to Bollywood".
In its interview with the actor, the article mentions some of the controversies she has found herself in -- the proverbial eye of the storm over "Padmaavat" for allegedly distorting historical facts, her solidarity with JNU students during the release of her maiden production "Chhapaak", and more recently, allegations that she hurt religious sentiments by wearing a "saffron" bikini as a Pakistani spy in the "Pathaan" song "Besharam Rang".
According to the story, a "long pause" followed when Padukone was asked about the "constant political backlash".
"I don't know if I'm supposed to feel something about it. But the truth is, I don't feel anything about it," the 37-year-old said.
At the 95th Academy Awards earlier this year, Padukone introduced "Naatu Naatu", the Best Original Song Oscar winner from SS Rajamouli's blockbuster "RRR", as a "total banger".
"This is India's moment," she said, adding that Indian cinema has transcended borders.
Previously, the Denmark-born cinema personality served on the competition jury for the 75th Cannes Film Festival and became the first Indian brand ambassador for international fashion labels such as Louis Vuitton and Cartier. She regularly makes waves with her appearances at fashion events like the Met Gala.
"So the fame goes wherever you go... I didn't have a game plan for how to get here, but I didn't see failure on my vision board," said Padukone, who started her career as a model in advertisements and music videos.
"So how can I marry the best of the East and the West? There's the India with our roots, our heritage, our history, but there's also a new and young India that's emerging. It's these two Indias coming together that I find really fascinating at this moment," she added.
Even as India claimed twin wins at the 2023 Academy Awards -- the second for "The Elephant Whisperers" for Best Documentary Short Subject -- the actor said the country itself is "beginning to realise that its movies are not just limited to Hindi films".
"But I don't think we should be happy with one Oscar for a song and another for a documentary. I hope we can look at this as the beginning of an opportunity," she pointed out.
Padukone also talked about her husband and frequent co-star Ranveer Singh, saying with him, she is her "most vulnerable self".
Common perception that Bollywood female actors come with a shelf life that expired as soon as they got married or had children has changed, she added.
"I've never had that experience because (Singh) has always put me, my dreams, and my ambitions first," the actor shared.
Last seen in "Pathaan", Padukone is currently on a break from shooting "Fighter", billed as India's first aerial-action film.
The actor joins a long list of Indian names, including industry colleagues Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Aamir Khan, and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who made it to the cover of TIME magazine.
In 2018, she was part of 'TIME magazine's 100 most influential people', alongside former Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli and Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder of cab aggregator Ola