You could spend a lifetime chasing fame in the cavernous confines of showbiz and come up empty but for Disha Patani, fame found her. It trawled the relative anonymity of the pag- eant circuit in Indore and ascended her to the precipice of stardom. It embellished her call- ing card with projects alongside Bollywood’s most sought-after names—including not one, but two outings with cinematic juggernaut, Salman Khan—and yielded meatier roles in Malang (2020) and Ek Villain Returns (2022) before anybody could whisper the words that have damned many a rising starlet’s career graph: ‘eye candy’.
Instead, Disha’s name today commands a cachet that belies her comparatively brief stint in Bollywood since her debut in M.S. Dhoni: The Un- told Story (2016). Six years might flash by in the blink of an eye for most showbiz hopefuls, but the young star has managed to leverage this into a staggering social media following that is steadily inching north of 50 million, a string of partnerships with coveted fashion houses and—perhaps, the true litmus test of stardom— the inability to zip across town on a coffee run without triggering paparazzi pandemonium.
Next on her wishlist is a dance film and perhaps another action movie but as we speak, she pauses for a moment to marvel at how far she has come. “After MS Dhoni: The Untold Story was released, people started recognizing me on the streets and asking me for pictures and autographs. There was one moment when someone shouted my character’s name from the film and it really hit me: I was officially a public figure.”But even as she scales the dizzying heights of showbiz, Disha remains dogged in her insistence to live life the way most 30-somethings do: spending weeknights gingerly clipping her doberman’s nails and weekends skulking at the edge of parties while wishing she could instead be doing something more productive, like sweating it out at the gym before the festive season to “earn my holiday treats”.
The latter is part of her widely-documented crusade to prove that women can do more than cardio. If you were to run into the star in a dark alley, you might want to watch out for her mean right hook—just one of the many tricks she has stashed in her lexicon of strength training, deadlifts, kickboxing and gymnastics. “Fitness is like therapy to me, I feel most at peace when I am working out,” Disha muses. While she professes to have a sweet spot for a cookie-and-cream doughnut and hot chocolate, it does little to dent her drive to become her fittest self. “Everyone says you have to get into fitness to look a certain way, but that wasn’t why I gravitated towards it. For me, fitness is not just about looking a certain shape or size—it’s about having a healthy mind. I get bored easily, which is why you will always find me changing up my routines to keep myself interested and agile,” she elaborates.
If watching her diminutive frame pirouette gracefully through the air to land a flying kick on her opponent comes as a surprise, it shouldn’t be—Disha can only be described as an intriguing concoction of contradictions. In an industry that thrives on seeing and being seen, the self- professed introvert doesn’t lose sleep over skipping the RSVPs in her social inbox. But won’t the lack of networking ring the death knell for a young star’s career, you might ponder and you would be wrong—a routine fixture in the 100-crore club, her career offers salient testimony to the notion of making it in showbiz without air-kissing and swirling cocktails with the swish set.
After all, Disha has made it this far without a coterie of support or a beaming benefactor pulling the strings and if she continues to listen to her razor-sharp intuition, fame will continue to find her anyway.
Deputy editor: Shonali Shah; Hair: Humera Shaikh (entourage Talents); Makeup: Natasha Nayar; Assisted By: Nayan Kadam (makeup) (exceed Entertainment), Jimmy Qureshi (photography), Komal Shetty & Kawya Gharat (styling); Editorial Assistant: Riya Suresh; Production: Cut Loose Productions; Talent Agency: Spice
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