Deepika Padukone professional expansion (2017–2020)
The action film XXX: Return of Xander Cage (2017), in which Padukone played the lead female role of Serena Unger, opposite Vin Diesel, marked her first project in Hollywood. Critical reception of the film was mixed. Tirdad Derakhshani of The Philadelphia Inquirer termed the film a “repetitious heap of remarkably tedious CGI-enhanced action scenes” and thought that Padukone’s talent was wasted in it. Conversely, Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter believed that she had successfully “outclassed” Diesel to “practically (steal) the film”. The film earned over US$345 million worldwide, a majority of which came from the Chinese box office. Padukone received three nominations at the Teen Choice Awards and followed it with an item number in the romantic drama Raabta.
In 2018, Padukone portrayed Rani Padmavati, a Rajput queen who commits jauhar (self-immolation) to protect herself from the Muslim invader Alauddin Khilji, in the period drama Padmaavat; it marked her third collaboration with Bhansali and Singh. She was challenged by the need to convey her character’s courage through silence and considered it to be the most emotionally exhausting role of her career. She read history books on the era and researched the various historical depictions of Padmavati. Right-wing Hindu groups speculated that the film portrayed a romantic liaison between Padmavati and Khilji; they protested violently and placed a bounty to behead Padukone and Bhansali. Following a deferment in release, the film was cleared for exhibition after several modifications were made to it. Anna M. M. Vetticad of Firstpost criticised the film’s glorification of jauhar, but credited Padukone for managing to “eke something out of the stereotype-ridden writing”. With an estimated budget of ₹2 billion (US$28 million), Padmaavat is one of the most expensive Hindi films, and with earnings of ₹5.45 billion (US$76 million), it is Padukone’s highest-grossing release and one of Indian cinema’s biggest grossers. She received another Best Actress nomination at Filmfare.
Following the success of Padmaavat, Padukone took some time off work to focus on her home and family. In 2018, she formed her own company, named Ka Productions. Her first production venture came with Chhapaak (2020), a drama by Meghna Gulzar, in which she starred as an acid attack survivor (based on Laxmi Agarwal). She found it taxing to film in extreme heat wearing prosthetic makeup on her face, and considered it to be the most physically challenging role of her career. Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express credited her for “not just putting the focus on the ravaged-skin-with a missing ear-and-nostril, but reflecting a mix of pain, anger, resignation, and finally, arriving at some kind of resolution”. Teo Bugbee of The New York Times added that “Padukone is by turns inquisitive, watchful and serene but never maudlin”. It did not perform well commercially.
Padukone’s next production venture will be 83, a sports film about India’s victory at the 1983 Cricket World Cup, starring Ranveer Singh as Kapil Dev, in which she will also take on the role of Dev’s wife, Romi. She has committed to star alongside Siddhant Chaturvedi and Ananya Panday in Shakun Batra’s as-yet untitled romantic drama, and to portray Draupadi in a retelling of the Mahabharata from her character’s perspective, which she will also be producing. Padukone will also produce and star in a remake of the American comedy film The Intern, and will team with Prabhas in an as-yet untitled science fiction film.