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I don’t have an issue marrying an actor: Deepika Padukone




I don’t have an issue marrying an actor: Deepika Padukone
Deepika Padukone may be the most beautiful girl for many, but for her father Prakash Padukone, nothing beats Madhuri Dixit's beauty and grace. Deepika may seem calm and poised to many, but her father feels she can become an even better human being if she could control her temper even more. And while Deepika beats him hollow in popularity, he believes she still has to match his success of having becoming the World's No. 1 badminton player in 1980. Prakash Padukone, 58, and daughter Deepika, 27, in a first ever conversation exclusively with the Bombay Times. Excerpts:

In conversation with Prakash Padukone:

How did you become a badminton player?
We are Saraswat Brahmins and speak Konkani. My father used to work in Mumbai in the early 50s and introduced badminton to Karnataka when he came and settled in Bangalore as he was a national level coach and umpire. I was born and brought up in Bangalore and was introduced to badminton at the age of six. I played for my country, but all my other three siblings have also played for the state. We would play in a small marriage hall. Six months the hall would be booked for marriages when we could not play and would play other sports but at other times we would play when it was free. Both my grandparents were also sportsmen and so the sports culture was there in our family. In 1980, I won the All England championship and became the world no 1 in badminton. The championship is more than 100 years old and whoever won that was considered the unofficial World No. 1. I am grateful to my father as at that time the game was not popular, there was no money despite that he allowed me to pursue it as a sport and take it up on a professional basis. My victory changed the face of Indian badminton in terms of visibility, sponsorship, tournaments and awareness. When I went to Bangalore, the state organised a reception for me where I was taken on an open jeep from the airport to the Vidhana Soudha with people lined up through the 8 kms way. It was a great feeling. After having become the best player in the world, I remember I played the national championship in which I lost. Despite being the world's no 1, I had lost the national championship first time after nine years. I was very disappointed but quickly got back and realised that in sports sometimes you lose and sometimes you win so you can't get excited about either and can neither feel excited after a victory nor sulk after a defeat. I got married to my second cousin Ujjala soon after and we moved to Copenhagen as I found a job there and lived there till 1986 when Deepika was born. I retired in 1989.

How have you managed to remain so grounded?
I didn't need to make an effort as it came naturally to me because of my parents and hopefully, we have passed it on to our daughters. I am quiet and don't like to be in the public eye. I am introverted with a limited friends with whom I am very close to. I like to be by myself and am happy doing that. I am totally a Bangalorean, low profile and down-to-earth, much like the culture is down South.

Who are you most attached to?
My wife, though we are totally different. While I am an introvert, she likes to make friends. And we have tried to take the good points from each other. As a family, we are all very organised and it comes from her. Anytime you come to our place there, anybody can just walk in and the house will be spick and span. I give her the credit for holding the family together and disciplining our daughters. It's not easy to handle two celebrities in the house each with their own tantrums and egos. While I don't know how to cook, I help in washing, dusting, putting away the clothes and shopping. I retired when Deepika was three years old and gave her enough time but my daughters are closer to the mother and talk to her more. I don't talk so much and that is a complaint from my wife and also from my daughters. It's not that I do it intentionally, but from the beginning, I talk less. I share less. I don't get angry but I also don't express enough. But I try to understand them more than they understand me.

Did you ever feel that Deepika could become this big a star?
No, she was very naughty when she was young and was almost like a boy. She would climb sofas and was full of energy. Today, she is totally different and is so concerned about us. Until just five years back, we would tell her, 'When you take a flight inform us, when you reach inform us.' And just two years back she is telling us, 'When you board you message me, when you land you message me.' Sometimes I feel bad as she is alone, especially if all three of us are there and she is not there, but that is the price you have to pay and I have gone through that myself, be it being not there for festivals or birthdays. She has become very responsible. When your kids are with you, you don't give them responsibility. When she moved out she was only 18 and we were concerned about her. Right now, she is very hard-working, focused and defines her own goals for herself. She is also emotional and balanced.

What would you like to correct about her?
Sometimes, she gets angry and needs to be even more tolerant. Even if not like me and I do understand that it is expecting too much as she lives alone and her industry is very difficult. She is not snapping all the time, but if she can control even that she will be even a better human being. She is old enough to understand and take the right decisions and I feel proud of her.

When would you like to see her married?
She is responsible and when and who she marries is entirely up to her.

Have you been a fan of any stars?
I have always been a Madhuri Dixit fan and still am. I love her dancing, her grace, the way she conducts herself and like her both as an actor and a person. I also like Aamir and Shah Rukh Khan. Shah Rukh for the roles he has done and Aamir for his perfection.

I still remember when we went to Shah Rukh's house first on New Year's Eve while Deepika was shooting Om Shanti Om and he said, 'Don't worry I will look after her' and that was really reassuring for us as parents.

Are you addressed as Deepika's father in Bangalore?
I always say that people who are above 40 call her Prakash's daughter and if they are under 40, they call me Deepika's father. I also tell Deepika, 'While there is no comparison in popularity and yours is many more times mine, in terms of achievement, I may have still achieved more than you.' But I hope by the time she retires, she will cross my achievement, too.

In conversation with Deepika Padukone:

Talk about your father?
He is someone who has always been very calm and is extremely patient and loves teaching and explaining. I have got my focus and discipline from him. And obviously, I am not as calm as him but when I compare myself to people that I am surrounded by, I feel I tend to absorb a lot. I also feel that over the last few years, I have become less tolerant but it's a tougher industry to be in. It may also be due to the fact that I live alone and you get used to living your life a certain way. I have become less tolerant towards inefficiency and stupidity as I work so hard, that I can't tolerate people who slack despite them having the potential. Workwise, when it becomes stressful for me, my dad who has seen fame and success will always relate it back to sports for me and say, 'You take part to win, but when you are playing a particular game, you are only thinking of that opponent and that match whereas the larger picture can be that you want to achieve somethings for yourself. Getting to the top is easier than maintaining it.' There are certain things I talk to my mom and certain things I speak to dad for. But I also know that it has never been that I can tell my mum something and my dad won't know. They are very dependent on each other even though they may not say it or realise it. I was in Malaysia recently for an ad where my mom was with me and every second she would say, 'If papa was here he would do this, if papa was here he would like this.' What I really like about them is that both of them have kept us grounded and kept us in touch with reality and life beyond work.

Do you plan to get married?
Sure, definitely. The feeling is there but right now I need to sit down and decide whether the ambitious side of me is slightly more or whether the emotional side is greater. I do battle with that. I always saw myself doing what I am doing today, but there is also this side of me that wants to get married and start a family, wanting to have many kids and I know I will be good at that. Right now, if I feel that my ambition is largely controlling me then I should not be getting into that right now because I will want to give my 100% to that too. There is no end to wanting to achieve what you want to achieve. And there will come a day when I will stop enjoying my work and be tired and would want to move into the next phase of my life. But right now, I feel there is a lot more of quality work that I need to do and am not satisfied with whatever I have done so far.

Do you have friends in the industry?
Ranveer Singh, Homi Adajania and Dinoo Vijan are friends. Ayan Mukerji and me talk a lot and he gets me and understands me even though we may not be in touch as much as I would like us to be. With him, it's a slightly complicated equation, but what I love is that over one conversation we both know.


Would you consider marrying an actor?

I don't have an issue with marrying an actor though it's definitely tough. I work with actors and interact with star wives and I don't know how they do it. Loyalty is a very important factor for me and I need to be in a relationship where the person will complete me and fill me up.

Why do stars not acknowledge relationships?
I can tell you from experience it leads to too much scrutiny on your relationship. Being in love is one of the most beautiful feelings, but I will talk about it when I am sure.
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