Today, actress Deepika Padukone, 30, and Indian national field hockey player Rani Rampal, 21, spend their days in radically different ways. Yet their paths to respective success bear similar markings: each learned the discipline and strengthened the confidence she attributes to her rise to early participation in sport, an anomaly in a country in which athletics has remained male dominated.
Their accounts also mirror sociological findings suggesting that female participation in sport helps to alter a girl or woman’s self-image in numerous ways, including feelings of control, competency and strength. Padukone, who played national-level badminton before turning her full attention to acting, confirms this theory, stating, “Everything I am today and everything I have achieved comes from my years of playing sport. My goals, my commitment, my focus, my dedication, my discipline, my sacrifices, my hard work... All of it, I've learnt it all through sport. Sport has also taught me how to handle failure and success. It has taught me how to fight. It has made me unstoppable!"
For her part, Rampal, who in 2010 at the age of 15 became the youngest player on India’s national field hockey team, confirms that sports helped build her self-assurance and expand her dreams. “Coming from a small village never stopped me; every time I won a medal I kept getting stronger and more confident to take on the world.”
In a music video titled “Da Da Ding,” part of a new Nike Just Do It campaign, Padukone and Rampal, alongside other leading Indian athletes — footballer Jyoti Ann Burrett and cricketers Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandana and Shubhlakshmi Sharma — urge India’s next generation to break conventions and define their own success by bringing sport into their lives.
Created in collaboration with Wieden+Kennedy Delhi, directed by French director François Rousselet and set to a thumping anthem by Gener8ion, featuring American rapper Gizzle, “Da Da Ding” charts the rise of female sport across a diverse range of passions, including basketball, football, running, training and India's national obsession: cricket.