So, for Christmas, I gave my Dad Furious 7, an excellent movie. We watched it together Christmas afternoon (my second time, his first), and naturally, I started thinking about Deepika Padukone. Because, rumor has it, she was offered a role and turned it down for Happy New Year (or Ram-Leela, but the timing makes more sense with Happy New Year filming).
Now, Happy New Year is not the greatest film, and Furious 7 is excellent, but I still think Dips made the right decision.
First, I should say why I think Furious 7 is excellent (if you haven’t seen it, that is. If you have, it should be self-explanatory!). I think it is excellent for the same reason I think Indian films in general are superior to American films. It is a film that uses images and objects in motion to the greatest degree possible. If I want brilliant dialogue and complicated plotting, I can read a novel. If I want sensitive acting and realistic characters, I can see a play. But if I want to see cars flying through the air (or dozens of dancers in complicated choreography), I can only get it in a movie.
Moreover, Furious 7 even follows the Rasa theory of drama! Each scene, on its own, creates a specific tone and emotion that is unique to it and does not carry through out the piece. And it has a strong focus on family and relationships. Really, in a lot of ways, Furious 7 is more of an Indian movie than Happy New Year!
But Dips was right, because for her career, Furious 7 would have been a step to the side, whereas Happy New Year was a step forward. The character she would have been playing would be “Ramsey”, the cool female hacker. In the final film, she was played by Nathalie Emmanuel, and it was a pretty nice character. Smart, comfortable with strong personalities, with cool international connections, and an actual useful skill that became part of the final showdown. Not just a damsel in distress.
It’s actually a really good part for Deepika, she has that sort of friendly, one of the boys kind of vibe. And she is able to dial back the star power to be part of an ensemble (as she showed in Happy New Year). If she had taken the role, it would have led to more roles as the sexy woman in American action movies. Maybe some side character in a TV show. She could have transitioned to working mostly in the US, if she wanted, and carved out a niche for herself with her looks, her likeability, and her acting.
But, if she took Happy New Year, she could be a Star. In Happy New Year, it is kind of a lame part in kind of a lame movie, but she gets to act opposite Shahrukh Khan, she gets to go on tour with Shahrukh Khan, she gets to have multiple major dance numbers focused on her, she gets a big heroine’s introduction, she gets all the press in India for about 2 weeks, and she gets to follow it up with funky little Piku without accusations that she is losing her commercial edge.
I don’t know, if I were Deepika, I might have taken the Furious 7 job. I could get a little apartment in LA, go grocery shopping without being recognized, sort of downsize my life. But I’m not Deepika, because I would never want to be a movie star or a model or anything like that, and clearly, she does, and part of wanting that is wanting to be the biggest you can possibly be. So no Furious 7 small, likeable roles. At least not in America.
Supposedly, they are in talks with her again for Furious 8 (or whatever it is called). If anything does come of it, I wouldn’t be surprised if she takes either a smaller role that can go unnoticed and allow her to return home to her real career as soon as possible. Or a bigger one that she can use as a bargaining chip in Indian contract negotiations. But avoid the medium sized part that could lead to a strong Hollywood resume.