Top Bollywood star Deepika Padukone, who also has a Hollywood presence (“xXx: Return of Xander Cage”), is having the time of her life serving on the Cannes jury.
“It gives me goosebumps every single time I walk into the Palais and we leave – it gives me goosebumps because every single person on that seat is there to celebrate cinema,” Padukone told Variety. “You might love it, you might hate it, but everyone’s there just rooting for film, rooting for that experience. Everybody’s so disciplined, everyone is seated on time, everyone’s phones are switched off. Everyone waits for the end credits to happen. And everyone’s like clapping to the end. And everybody stands up.”
Padukone was familiar with the work of some of her fellow jurors, including Asghar Farhadi and Rebecca Hall, but not all.
“I wasn’t entirely familiar with with all of them, as is the case with all of the jurors,” says Padukone. “And I think what all of us, which we discovered after we met the first evening, was to actually read up on our fellow jury members and watch some of their work. So even when you deliberate, you understand where they’re coming from, or what is the kind of cinema that that speaks to them and so on.”
The actor has been a regular face on the Cannes red carpet endorsing global brands for years. From being a promising badminton player to a model to an actor and now to the Cannes jury has been quite a journey for Padukone. She says that she finds her journey fascinating when she takes pause to look back at it.
“Models have always been written off as people who cannot act, either you’re a model or you’re an actor, and the two things in people’s minds cannot coexist. So from beginning my journey like that, to making my debut, and now 15 years in, to having evolved as as a person, in a professional capacity, and a personal capacity, I have learned from every experience,” says Padukone.
“I think that had I not been an athlete before I became a model, I’m not so sure I’d have the same journey,” adds Padukone. “I think it’s the athlete in me that that allowed my mind to be open, that allowed me to make choices, independent decisions, make mistakes, and learn from them. Over a period of time things started becoming clearer and clearer for me.”
The actor sees being on the Cannes jury as a natural progression of her journey but at the same time being invited on it came as a surprise to her. “They [the festival management] seem so convinced about why they made that decision. And it makes me sit back and think sometimes maybe I’ve not given myself enough credit,” says Padukone. “And that’s okay too, because, I don’t want to be feeling like, like this huge achievement or whatever. If I’ve landed here today, without even realizing it, I must be doing something right. And therefore, I don’t want to think too much about what led me to come here. What I want to do is actually continue on that journey, which is continue to be honest in the process, and then when moments like these have to happen, they’ll happen anyway.”
Padukone arrives in Cannes in a year when India is the country of honor at the market and incentives for international productions filming in India have been revealed.
“As a nation, we’ve always been very warm, very welcoming, and very open. And I feel like this just makes that process so much easier,” says Padukone, adding that it means more employment for Indian film technicians and better opportunities to showcase India to the world.
“The same way that we’re going to foreign locations because of tax rebates and because of just the ease of being able to maneuver, I think we’re offering the same thing. And I think it’s amazing,” says Padukone.
The actor has just wrapped Siddharth Anand’s “Pathaan,” alongside Shah Rukh Khan and John Abraham, and is working on “Project K” by Nag Ashwin. Next up is the Indian remake of “The Intern,” alongside Amitabh Bachchan, which she is also producing via her KA Productions along with Warner Bros. and Sunir Kheterpal for Athena.
Meanwhile, Cannes is going to become a regular mid-year holiday destination for Padukone and her husband, Bollywood star Ranveer Singh. Padukone’s jury service allows them access to the jury box in future years. “We just come here for two weeks, nobody needs to know,” says Padukone. “Watch movies, sneak in, sneak out. We’ll be like kids in a candy store.”