Deepika Padukone: India’s highest-paid actress makes each rupee count

The discipline and professionalism that she displays in her acting career is reflected in her money management style


Deepika Padukone. Photo: Dominique Charriau/Getty Images
Deepika Padukone. Photo: Dominique Charriau/Getty Images

When Forbes magazine released a list of the world’s highest paid actresses in August, Deepika Padukone was the only Indian to feature in it. Forbes said she earned $10 million (around Rs68 crore) between 1 June 2015 and 1 June 2016, before management fees and taxes. Padukone pushes the envelope each time with every unconventional role she plays—material girl Veronica in Cocktail, risk-taker Aaliya in Break Ke Baad, Angie, the widow in Finding Fanny, headstrong architect Meera in Love Aaj Kal, and Mastani, the second wife, in Bajirao Mastani. But when it comes to managing her money, she’s very cautious.

“We, as a family, are extremely conservative when it comes to money. I come from a middle-class family, plus I am a south Indian. Every rupee is accounted for,” she says, adding that this has been the case since her school days. “When we (she and her sister) were in school, we never got pocket money as and when we pleased. We literally had to earn it. We had to do something amazing to even get simple things like, say, a raw mango that then cost Re1 or Rs2 outside the school. That way, we had a very conservative upbringing and that holds true even today.”

Money lessons

Being disciplined: Padukone is reputed to be a thorough professional and a disciplined person, thanks perhaps to her sports background. That discipline, she says, is reflected in her management of money too. “It stems from being an athlete. From the time you are five-six years old, you are building that in a different capacity. For instance, I used to wake up on time, reach the ground on time, do 40 rounds of the track, then your coach is there, making sure you complete the hurdles, lifting your weights correctly, running back home and getting ready for school. As an athlete, your life then becomes very structured. And it is not something you realized at that point. But in my case, when I branched out in a different profession, I realized how much of that background or upbringing I use in my life today. From the simplest things like my diet and sleep, to the financial aspect as well.”

"Deepika’s money mantra: ‘We, as a family, are extremely conservative when it comes to money. I come from a middle-class family, plus I am a south Indian. Every rupee is accounted for.’"-

Living within one’s means: Padukone says she values every paisa that she earns. “I am aware of the money that I earn. At the same time, everything I am today is something that I have built on my own, single-handedly. I completely value it because it is not something that has fallen into my lap.” Though she is labelled the highest-paid Indian actress, she tries to live within her means. “One of the first things that my parents taught me is to live within your means.”

“It is so relevant, especially in the age of social media. It is a great place to know what someone across the world is doing, but you are also setting false expectations about yourself and people around you. In fact, a large cause of depression is social media. It is important to know what you can afford and be comfortable with that. Not just from the money point of view but in life also. Accept yourself with your flaws.”

Being financially independent: Padukone says it is important to be financially independent. “It gives you a different kind of freedom. Today, I am not dependent on my parents, nor do I need to depend on a man from a financial point of view. And it is a nice feeling.” She recalls the time she tried to hand over her first pay cheque to her parents. “I was just straight out of school and wanted a professional photographer to take photos which then would get circulated to get work. We identified a photographer in Bengaluru and the rate at that time for a portfolio shoot was Rs10,000. I had taken Rs10,000 from my parents and I clearly remember the conversation I had with my mother where I said, ‘Ma, hopefully one day you would be proud of me.’ Though my parents didn’t want to take it from me, when I started making money I think that was the first thing I did. I don’t remember whether they took it or not.”

Earning and investing

Padukone’s mantra for success seems to be doing one thing at a time—right now, she is channelizing her energy into acting. The business side of movie-making is not for her. “To be very honest, I don’t have a business mind at all and I am okay to be that way. I don’t know if business and creativity can ever go hand in hand. And that is actually one of the reasons why I always avoid or never take any interest in understanding the business of film-making. I have always spent a lot of my energy in understanding the creative aspect of it.”

According to the Forbes report, Padukone earns far less than her Hollywood counterparts would but makes up with more than a dozen lucrative endorsements. She currently endorses several high-value brands, such as Coca-Cola, Axis Bank, Vistara, Kellogg’s, Vogue, Tissot, Van Heusen, Tanishq and Nike. “I look at credibility. You call them high-value, but for me when I get approached by these brands, the first thing that draws me and I connect with is the fact that these are extremely credible brands. They have a track record and I want them to trust me. The growth and success of the company is my personal achievement too. I always go back and check how a brand is doing once they sign me on.” Though she is only interested in endorsements at present, Padukone is open to the idea of picking up a stake in a brand.

Being unapologetically ambitious and hardworking leaves her with little time. Her father Prakash Padukone, ranked the world’s No.1 badminton player when he won the All England championship in 1980, is her money guru. “It is my father who manages my finances and I hope it will be that way for as long as possible,” she says. Ask her about the asset classes she holds, and she says, “I wouldn’t be comfortable sharing that kind of detail because my father handles that aspect of it.”

Right now, Padukone’s focus seems to be on physical assets. She bought a residential apartment in a posh Mumbai locality in 2011. She admits there’s an emotional tilt towards gold in the family. “From a sentimental point of view, gold is something we value a lot. Even today, if we have to gift something or buy something, we never buy anything on a whim. There is always a lot of thought that goes into everything that we buy, especially when it comes to jewellery. Gold is an emotional thing for us.”

The 30-year-old also has her own label, All About You, for online shopping site Myntra. “I branched out and started it because it is exciting, it is another creative angle for me to explore.” She says she has professionals who look at the balance sheet and investment part of it, while she is involved in the creative side. “The fact that I can play with colours, silhouette and fabric is what excites me. The motive is to make comfortable clothes available for girls of my age.

“So far, we have done two-three seasons of Western wear and we have just launched an Indian-wear collection. There is a side to me that wants to just lounge around in easy and comfortable clothes. That is the personal me. I have had so many experiences where I don’t feel comfortable in certain clothes. The mood of my clothing line is comfort over anything else.” The collection, with the French agency Carlin and Myntra’s own team collaborating on designs, is priced between Rs479 (discounted) and Rs3,999 on Myntra.

Working for a cause

Padukone, who has been vocal about her struggle with depression, launched The Live Love Laugh Foundation a year ago. “The biggest challenge for us is the stigma attached to mental illness and the lack of awareness about depression and anxiety. The foundation’s larger vision is to remove stigma and create more awareness of mental health.”

The foundation set itself three targets for the first year. “The first programme was ‘You Are Not Alone’, where we go to school and educate children, teachers and parents about what anxiety and depression is because schools are the first line of defence.” Next, it organized a general practitioners’ programme, Together Against Depression, a couple of months ago. “Here we reintroduced to doctors the theme of mental health.” The third programme, a nationwide media campaign, was launched last month.

As she wraps up, Padukone says that to really understand success one needs to start at the bottom. “I have worked hard and been through the grind. I see people wanting to reach the top without doing any solid ground work. I think it is very important to go through the grind. You need to start at the bottom to understand success in the real sense.”

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Name: Deepika Padukone

Age: 30

Claim to money fame: The only Indian woman actor in the Forbes 2016 highest-paid actress list; she earned $10million between June 2015 and June 2016

Money memory: In school, having to ‘earn’ the Re1 or Rs2 it cost to buy a raw mango

What money can buy: “Financial independence”. It gives you a different kind of freedom. Today, I’m not dependent on my parents, nor do I need to depend on a man...

What money can’t buy: Happiness. The actor has won accolades for going public with her own struggle with depression.

By Vivina Vishwanathan

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The top-paid actresses

Jennifer Lawrence

Age: 26

Income: $46 million

Source of income: Movies

Melissa McCarthy

Age: 46

Income: $33 million

Source of income: TV and movies

Scarlett Johansson

Age: 31

Income: $25 million

Source of income: Movies

Jennifer Aniston

Age: 47

Income: $21 million

Source of income: Tv and Movies

Fan Bingbing

Age: 35

Income: $17 million

Source of income: Movies

Source: Forbes

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