DUBAI // Deepika Padukone counts herself among those who firmly believe in happily ever after, which the Indian actress says makes her character in the new movie Break de Baad [After the Break] her most difficult to date from an emotional standpoint.
Padukone plays a commitment-phobic, career-driven wannabe actress in the movie that has its premiere tomorrow in Dubai.
"Aaliya doesn't believe in marriage," Padukone said. "She can't commit to a relationship and I found it difficult to relate to her. I give my relationships 100 per cent."
That sort of intensity fits with the attention usually given to the model-turned-actress in the Indian media, where her relationships are typically in the spotlight. Speculation currently is focused on whether she is dating the son of a well-known Indian businessman after last year's break-up with the Indian actor Ranbir Kapoor with whom she was together for more than a year.
"I had to constantly tell myself that I was playing a character and my ideals and ideas don't have to be the same as hers," said Padukone, who has a strong fan base following her 2007 debut Om Shanti Om and subsequent hit Love Aaj Kal.
Opposite Padukone's character is Abhay, a man hopelessly in love with her. He is played by the actor Imran Khan, who has had two hits since his initial lead role in Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na in 2008.
"It was very easy to get under Abhay's skin because he is similar to me," said Khan, who is fast turning into a romantic heart-throb for teenage female Bollywood fans. "He doesn't know what he wants to do in life, unlike Deepika's character, who is ambitious and driven. He just knows that he wants to be with her forever."
Khan, the nephew of the noted Indian actor Aamir Khan, said the movie reflected changing trends. Romantic Bollywood movies of years past often dealt with rich girl-poor boy themes where parental obstacles drove a couple apart.
"Now the obstacles are internal," he said. "It's a tremendous change that is captured. It's no longer parents not allowing a couple to marry. Here the couple cannot commit because of their own issues."
The movie is about two hours long, much shorter than the typical Indian film, which lasts for more than three hours. It tells the tale of childhood sweethearts who have known each other since the age of four and fall in love as teenagers.
Their relationship is tested when Aaliya heads off to Australia to study and Abhay must deal with his concern that a long-distance relationship is a recipe for disaster. They decide to take a break from each other until their lives settle down and the movie explores their choices. Padukone believes the movie talks the language of today's youth. "It shows the changing face of relationships," she said. "At some point somewhere, somebody has taken a break."
The film critic, Komal Nahta, echoed the cast's belief that the film's strength is that it speaks of real relationships. "The movie looks interesting, the music is catchy and the theme is identifiable for today's youngsters," said Nahta, the editor of the trade guide Film Information. "The promotions are already generating some interest. A lot of youngsters will go and see the movie."
The film also addresses the need for space in a relationship, a subject few Bollywood movies have touched on. Filmmakers hope its relevance will draw audiences to theatres in India and overseas.
"That's what makes it different, because things like space haven't been spoken about before," said Danish Alam, a first-time director who has gained experience as an assistant director on several big productions over the past six years.
Kunal Kohli, a well-known Indian director and the movie's producer, forecast the film will overturn the perception of some that Padukone is just another pretty face.
"There is always that role which makes you look at an actor differently and this is that role for Deepika, and I'm not saying this as a marketing gimmick," he said.