Exclusive: Deepika Padukone offers first look at Nike’s Team India jerseys
Four years ago, in April 2011, Deepika Padukone was in London on a film shoot as the ICC Cricket World Cup final played on at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. The director gave the crew the day off so they could catch the match on TV–which they did on a giant screen at an Indian restaurant nearby. India secured a very cool six-wicket win over Sri Lanka, and there was some bubbly to celebrate. But the fact that she had to watch it from another continent and later look at visuals of people celebrating on Marine Drive elicited one little reaction from Padukone—”Tch. Damn!”
This time though, as she launches Team India’s World Cup jerseys as the face of Nike’s Bleed Blue campaign, shot by photographer Bharat Sikka, Padukone wears her love of sport on her sleeve.
How would you define your ties with cricket?
Whether you like it or not, cricket is a religion in our country and it’s the one thing that brings people across the world together, as one unit. Of course, as an athlete I would like other sports to come up as well, but you can’t take away from the fact that cricket is the most popular sport in the world. Cricket was one of the first sports that I followed beyond badminton. And I have an association with the sport from the time I supported the Bangalore IPL team. That’s when I started understanding the game.
Nowhere do bouquets and brickbats rain as freely as on the heads of our beloved Men in Blue. As a former athlete who knows the value of support and understands the perils of pressure, what’s your advice to fans?
Being an athlete I would say that one thing that we, as supporters, do is expect. There’s too much expectation. Of course, from our side it’s coming from a very, very good place, but we need to find that balance between encouragement and expectation. I think a sportsman’s life, or even a cricket match, is like a film–we’re going out on the field, and we’re going there to win. They want to win as much as we want them to win. But why is it that when they play badly, we bash them? We don’t need to do that. At the end of the day we know for a fact that they want it (victory) more. They know what they’re doing, so let’s not criticise.
How do you look like you’re on the court making shuttles fly five hours a day?
Very recently someone told me, “It’s not fair that you walk around everyday with a set of abs.” It comes from the fact that my entire childhood has been about fitnes–waking up at 4.30-5 in the morning, going for my physical training, which lasted a good two or two and a half hours, then going to school and coming back, then my second session of on-court play, followed by cooling down and stretching. I did that till I was 18. So fitness is a really important part of my life, it’s the only way of being for me. Today, for me, it’s more about maintenance. Thankfully I have a good metabolism and don’t have to restrict myself from a lot of things. This athletic body comes from being an athlete.
How is it working with Bharat Sikka on the Nike campaign?
Bharat is someone I started working with very early on in my career, and we’ve been working with each other on and off ever since. Now I know he’s become even more selective than he was before, so I’m really happy Nike managed to bring him onboard. He’s driven, inspired and emotionally involved–so, he gets the best of everything together.