She was all of 18 when her acting career took off, landing her in the cobweb of celebrityhood. But actress Ileana D’Cruz has managed to escape it her way — by prioritising family over work, maintaining a slow pace, conquering depression that stemmed from superficial judgments by faceless people, and ignoring constant rumours about her marriage and pregnancy.
“I’m not pregnant. In fact, I would have been super happy if I was. It’s something I have always wanted. But there’s still time. I still don’t want to become pregnant yet,” Ileana said, laughing off rumours.
Keeping negativity at bay
There was a hullabaloo when she used “hubby” for her Australian photographer beau Andrew Kneebone on social media, leaving fans and the media playing the guessing game on her marital status. “It’s not important for me (to tell the world if I’m married or not). I do tell the world about my equation in a way, and let the world a little bit into my life. But I like it that way because I hate the negativity that comes with it. I’ve learnt to live with it as it has been a little over 12 years for me in the industry now. But it’s really not fair on the so many other people, the families involved,” said the actress with Goan roots.
It’s about restraint
Ileana says a relationship is about restraint and respect. “There’s respect there,” Ileana said, adding: “I had a different perception of what a relationship or love is like. I was all giddy-headed and fairytale about it in my head, but it’s so different. There’s a lot of restraint that you’ve got to have, compromising in certain situations — and you’ve got to have a lot of respect.”
It was Andrew, in fact, who egged on Ileana to see a therapist when depression struck her. “Things had got so bad that I was pushing people away. I didn’t realise how much I was alienating people. I would constantly refuse to go out when friends would call. At one point, I didn’t realise I was at home for a week… After that, I got an ultimatum from him,” shared Ileana.
She is calmer today. “Now I don’t look at life where I’d say: ‘Oh gosh, my life’s over if I don’t have films any more’. My approach is that there’s so much more for me to do… It (depression) really was in a way godsent… That depression and that phase in my life, as horrible as it was, was needed in a way to switch things back and change who I was as a person.” Now she enjoys balancing her personal and professional life at a pace she controls.
Having started her career with Telugu film “Devadasu”, Ileana also did Tamil movies and forayed into Bollywood with “Barfi!”. Her roles in subsequent movies like “Rustom”, “Mubarakan”, “Baadshaho” and “Raid” gave her a further push in Hindi cinema. “I’m happy I’m doing films at a slow pace rather than doing anything and everything… I do love my work, but for me, my priority is definitely family, and then work. More often than not, this industry expects you to put work before family. They are like ‘The show must go on’ irrespective of whatever happens. That’s something I like to twist and tweak to my way as much as I can,” she said.
“The good thing is I have managed to do it all these years. I don’t want to look back, say 20 years from now, and feel I have missed out on family and memories,” added Ileana, for whom the switch from southern films to Bollywood changed life for the “better”.