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Work-Life Balance on Film Sets – Deepika Padukone’s Perspective

6 Mins read

Alec Baldwin said he was rehearsing camera angles with Hutchins when he cocked the gun and it fired. How could that happen you ask? I think this is a major reason why the issue of work-life balance on film sets should be taken more seriously.

Meanwhile, someone else see this talk of worklife balance on film sets from another perspective. Deepika Padukone has become a force to be reckoned with, and it won’t be wrong to suggest this. She carries the voice of an actor who not only has an impressive line-up of films, but also one that carries empathy and values mental health. […]

In an exclusive on-ground session, celebrating a year of FC Front Row, Deepika Padukone talks about the importance of work-life balance, the changes she’d like to bring in the industry as a producer and her process of gauging success and failure.

People need to be given enough downtime and rest so that they [can] come back with better energy.

Work-Life Balance on Film Sets: Excerpts From The Interview With Deepika Padukone

Making The Roles Personal

Anupama Chopra (AC): I was looking at all the movies you’re doing, and it’s amazing. You’re doing Fighter with Hrithik Roshan, Pathan with Shah Rukh Khan and Project K with Prabhas. These are big event movies, irrespective of what the content is. When you do these films, how do you ensure that the role you’re doing has enough depth?

Deepika Padukone (DP): Today, directors with those kinds of roles don’t even approach me. They are like, ‘Don’t even bother because she’s going to say no.’ I don’t think I’ve been in that situation for a while. I’ve worked hard to get to a place today where I can give feedback and they’re open to feedback. I wouldn’t say that the roles are written poorly – the roles that are coming to me are pretty well-written. Then once I’m in [the project], I make it my own and add a little more depth to it. The directors that I am working with have been open to that.

Somehow, in our country, including the corporate world, taking leaves or wanting time for yourself carries a connotation of being unprofessional, not hardworking or driven enough.

Finding Work-life Balance

AC: I saw a conversation that you did with Abhinav Bindra that you did with The Live Love Laugh Foundation lecture series. At one point, you asked him, ‘When does something go from being pleasurable to being pressurizing?’ I want to ask you the same question. Does what you do ever become pressurizing?

DP: I think it can. That’s also where I draw the line in terms of my schedule. That’s the only place where I could start feeling that I’m not enjoying what I’m doing. The only other time I felt like that was when I was experiencing depression, but that’s very different because you have no control over your thoughts and feelings. Many years ago, I realized the importance of finding a work-life balance. I don’t intend to burnout, I’m not going anywhere. Somehow, in our country, including the corporate world, taking leaves or wanting time for yourself carries a connotation of being unprofessional, not hardworking or driven enough. And I disagree. You can be all of those things and still make time for yourself. How are you going to replenish and put energy back into your work if you don’t?

Equity On Film Sets and Availability of Mental Health Support

AC: As a producer, what are some of the things you want to see done differently in the film industry?

DP: To begin with, streamlining the hours that we work, especially for the crew. There is this sense that if you make people work extra and continuously, you get it done faster. My thinking is the exact opposite – people need to be given enough downtime and rest so that they come back with better energy. That’ll help you work faster and better the quality of your work too.

All For One, One For All

Step 2 is to be compensated for overtime. Actors, at the end of the day, are going to walk away the awards and the rewards, and so do the directors and everyone above board. The crew, on the other hand, comes in much earlier and leaves much later. Overtime may happen but we need to find a mechanism where they’re at least compensated for that on an hourly basis.

Step 3 is the kind of food that the crew is served. Nutritious food needs to be served to them. It’s a very small thing. I always feel that if you keep the crew happy and feed them well, they’ll go out of their way.

I’d also like to have a mental health expert on set. It could be for anybody, for a technician or an actor. Even if its not a full-time professional, [there should be] a call sheet including helpline numbers or the contact details of a counsellor that the team can reach out to, if required.


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Alec Baldwin Denies Responsibility For Fatal Shooting on Movie Set

Alec Baldwin on Thursday denied responsibility for the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of his Western movie “Rust,” saying he would have killed himself if he believed it was his fault.

In an emotional television interview, the actor said he did not pull the trigger on the gun he was holding during a rehearsal, and that he did not think he would be criminally charged in the case.

“I feel someone is responsible for what happened, but I know it isn’t me. I might have killed myself if I thought I was responsible, and I don’t say that lightly,” Baldwin told ABC television’s George Stephanopoulos in his first public comments about the Oct. 21 shooting on the set near Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was wounded when the gun fired off a live bullet.

The incident, including how live ammunition made its way to the set, is still being investigated by authorities in New Mexico. No criminal charges have been filed.

A Sequence

In what is widely reported and monitored on BBC, Aljazeera and Reuters, Baldwin had been told the gun was “safe” by crew members in charge of checking weapons.

“I’ve been told by people in the know… that it is highly unlikely I would be charged with anything criminally,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin said he “would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them.”

In his first public description of what happened, he said the Colt revolver went off when he was cocking the gun and rehearsing camera angles with Hutchins.

“In this scene, I am going to cock the gun. I said, ‘Do you want to see that?’ And she said yes. So I take the gun and I start to cock the gun. I’m not going to pull the trigger. I said, ‘Did you see that?’ She said, ‘Well just cheat it down and tilt it down a little bit like that’. And I cocked the gun and go, ‘Can you see that? Can you see that? And I let go of the hammer of the gun and the gun goes off.”

Accountability – How to Learn and See it Differently

Baldwin said he first thought Hutchins had fainted and it wasn’t until hours later that he was told she had died. He said he “couldn’t imagine” ever making a movie that involved guns again.

The actor, best known for TV comedy series “30 Rock,” has been widely criticized for not checking the gun thoroughly himself. But he insisted in the interview that was not the actor’s job.

“When that person who was charged with that job, handed me the weapon, I trusted them… In the 40 years I’ve been in this business all the way up until that day. I’ve never had a problem,” he said.

Two crew members have filed civil lawsuits accusing Baldwin, the producers and others of negligence and lax safety protocols on the set. But Baldwin said he “did not observe any safety or security issues at all in the time I was there.”

The shooting has sent shockwaves through Hollywood. It also prompting a debate about safety protocols in film and television. There is also the debate whether certain types of guns used as props should be banned, and state of working conditions on low-budget productions. Aljazeera also reported that before the incident, camera operators had walked off the set to protest working conditions, according to an affidavit.


“If you’re willing to accept failure and learn from it, if you’re willing to consider failure as a blessing in disguise and bounce back; you’ve got the potential of harnessing one of the most powerful success forces.”

Joseph Sugarman (Author and Entrepreneur)

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