MUMBAI - If any Bollywood star can claim 2013 as their year, it is Deepika Padukone. With four hit films, the former model has risen to the top of the A-list - and now has Hollywood in her sights.
But she isn't putting her giddy fame down to luck.
"I did work at an abnormal pace, juggling three films at a time, and I think the payback has been worth it," the elegant 27-year-old told AFP in an interview in her adopted hometown Mumbai, the entertainment capital.
Padukone has catapulted to Bollywood's big league after just six years in the movie industry, but her entry into films was hardly conventional.
In an industry known for blatant nepotism and dominant acting dynasties, she has carved out a career despite being neither of showbiz parentage nor from Mumbai.
Born in Copenhagen, she grew up in Bangalore, inheriting athletic genes from her father Prakash, a badminton world champion.
She was a state-level basketball, badminton and baseball player before becoming a model, and her experience and visibility in that job landed her film offers when she was as young as 19.
Her acting debut came in 2007 in "Om Shanti Om", opposite Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan. Her struggle, she said, was in understanding colleagues, the craft and finding comfort in front of the camera.
"When you begin working in your early 20s you are also understanding yourself and meeting many people who have an influence on your life - some good, some bad," said the actress, smartly dressed in a high-collared shirt and trousers, with a hint of makeup on her flawless skin.