Many of us remember Deepika Padukone from the success that was Om Shanti Om—the 2007 movie that debuted the star and also won her the Best Female Debut award at Flimfare—but only a few of us would remember that the actress was actually a ramp model first. It's not shocking that an attractive, tall Deepika was a ramp model, nor is it shocking that a ramp model would stand out enough to become Bollywood's next big A-lister, but the fact of the matter is Deepika Padukone had 'it'.
Deepika Padukone for Wendell Rodricks; image courtesy: Wendell Rodricks
Fashion designer Wendell Rodricks spotted the star power in her when he chose her to walk the ramp in his designs. The same star power was recognised by Farah Khan when Wendell recommended her for the role in Om Shanti Om. Walking for fashion events like Lakmé Fashion Week, Deepika was merely two years into modelling when she got her break—which was nothing less than serendipity.
"I showed a collection called Isadora at Lakmé Fashion Week...it was a game changer for Deepika," Wendell recalls in a Facebook post. "Director Farah Khan asked my friend Malaika to suggest a new model to star opposite Shah Rukh Khan for her new film. Om Shanti Om did not have a working title at the time. I suggested Deepika who was barely two years into modelling. I made her open the show and told Malaika that the first girl I was sending out was the one I recommend. Malaika liked her, conveyed the same to Farah and a screen test was done. The rest is history."
The show opener for Isadora would be the last runway Deepika walked as a model. Her next time on the ramp and every time since has been nothing short of a showstopping.
Showstopper Deepika Padukone for Manish Malhotra at India Couture Week 2016
It’s been 10 years since Deepika entered the Bollywood industry, and today, the former model is one of the highest paying actresses in the country. This year saw her enter international terroritries with her first Hollywood film xXx: Return of Xander Cage where she starred opposite Vin Diesel.
Om Shanti Om, 2007 (left) and xXx: Return of Xander Cage, 2017 (right)