'The last 15 minutes of the film was tough for my parents... they hate it when I die in films.'
IMAGE: Deepika Padukone has a Rajasthani Thali at Maharaja Bhog.
Deepika Padukone is in the mood to celebrate. The Padmaavat/Padmavati controversy seems to be behind her now.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmaavat finally released after months of protests and threats, but the film's leading lady said the tough times were offset by the love the film has received from the audience.
"At this point, I am not thinking about the last three months. The last three days have been so overwhelming that nothing else matters. I am in a mood to celebrate. I am grateful for all the love and support," Deepika said, while interacting with the media at a popular Indian restaurant in Mumbai over the weekend.
Padmaavat has been facing endless hurdles in the form of protests and death threats from the Karni Sena since the shooting for the film began. The protests continue even now and, despite the judgement from the Supreme Court, it is yet to release in some states.
IMAGE: Deepika Padukone feasts her eyes on the appetising food served to her.
Deepika said that while Padmaavat was a story that was several centuries old, it is a tale that is relevant today as well.
"It looks at the power of women. Today, again, we are standing up for ourselves with dignity... I find her journey so relevant today," Deepika said about her character, Rani Padmavati.
IMAGE: Want some?
The film also stars Shahid Kapoor, who plays Padmavati's husband, Maharawal Ratan Singh, and Ranveer Singh, who plays villainous Alauddin Khilji.
"When the rani (queen) had so much strength, why would she need others? In my personal life, I fight my own battles. I don't need anyone," she added.
Some of the protesters believed there was a dream sequence featuring Padmavati and Khilji, which Bhansali had denied.
"We (Ranveer and I) don't have even a moment together in this film," Dips said. "When I was shooting, he was not there and vice versa. I was not aware what work he has done in the film."
"Being a central protagonist and, with this kind of budget, I did feel a sense of responsibility. So, at times, I used to go to the sets and saw a little bit of what they were doing. Other than that, it seems as if we have shot two different films," Deepika said.
Recalling the jauhar sequence -- when the Rajput women are shown ready to court death -- she said the scene had stayed with her for quite some time.
"The jauhar speech was done in one take. I felt I would forget the lines. I did rehearsals for it. It was an intense moment on the sets. Everyone was quiet. They had kept three days for this but we did it in half a day," she said.
When lyricist Javed Akhtar called Padmaavat the Mother India of her career, Deepika was on cloud nine. But what gratified her more was that her parents praised her performance.
"My parents have seen the film and they were proud of my work, but there was a sense of disbelief. They were thinking, is she our daughter?
"As I don't stay with them, they don't know the details of the role or film. I want them to enjoy the film as a normal audience. They had no idea about Padmaavat and the story. The last 15 minutes of the film was tough for my parents... they hate it when I die in films," said Deepika.
She said she was always confident the film would be released, but what she did not anticipate was the love and support of the audience.
"When someone does something right, at the end, truth wins," she said.
IMAGE: Deepika takes a selfie with a fan.
The lavishly mounted film has so far minted Rs 83 crore at the box office and the leading lady is overwhelmed with the response.
"The amount of love, support is unprecedented and most important the blessings that I am getting. I feel what have I done to deserve this (love)?" she asked.
For Deepika, playing the part of Rani Padmavati in the historical drama was the most difficult role in her career.
"This role of a queen had no crutches -- like, she doesn't have a sword, she doesn't get on a horse and go on battlefield -- but there is sheer inner strength and resilience which I had to show through my eyes," Deepika said.
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar