November 15, 2022
When Deepika Padukone and I sat down to chat over Zoom (video off, she preferred), she admitted she was starving and craving a Bombay sandwich. For those who don’t know — I had to look up the specifics, because my mouth immediately started watering — the sandwich features potatoes, chaat masala, cheese, an onion or a cilantro mint chutney, and Amul butter- or ghee-laden slices of bread. “I’ll courier you some,” she joked.
Padukone, now 36, is a Bollywood superstar. She made her Hindi film debut with Om Shanti Om at only 21, starring opposite the King Khan himself, Shah Rukh Khan, almost exactly 15 years ago to the day. She wowed fans with her refreshing earnestness, dimpled smile, dancing, and washboard abs. But audiences could sense that Padukone, even at 21, had a maturity and grace far beyond her years. She would go on to star in blockbusters such as Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Ram-Leela. The range of characters she’s played — from a mischievous Juliet to the headstrong daughter of a constipated man — is mind-boggling for an industry that has long slotted its heroines into roles that only serve the hero.
Like many celebrities who have come before her, Padukone is no longer interested in just what she has already done. In the past few years, she’s launched the LiveLoveLaugh foundation to address mental health in India, become the brand ambassador for luxury houses Louis Vuitton and Cartier, and served on the jury of Cannes. Now, she’s building a business on her terms, with 82°E, which launched today. For her, it’s not about “vanity,” but about “leaving an impact.” But, most importantly, the self-care company and its products are what she believes are the truest avatar of who she’s always been.