On the professional front, Bollywood sensation Deepika Padukone has enjoyed a meteoric rise.

After all, the model-turned-actress burst into the entertainment scene with Shah Rukh Khan in the reincarnation drama Om Shanti Om [OSO] and was instantly hailed as a serious competitor to veterans, including Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Kareena Kapoor.

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But when it comes to the matters of the heart, Padukone is just like any other 20-something single girl.

The 23-year-old actress, who is currently dating Bollywood blue blood Ranbir Kapoor, says she is all too familiar with secret crushes and relationship woes.

Even an impressive dating record - with names including Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh (ace cricketers) - has not insulated her from heartbreaks.

"When in love, I think with my heart. I rarely listen to reason... sometimes it's good and sometimes it doesn't work out as planned. If you were to ask me, love - that feeling - has not changed. I guess, the only thing that has changed is the way in which couples express their love for one another," says Padukone haltingly over the phone from London, where she was to promote her latest romantic venture Love Aaj Kal [Love Today Tomorrow]. It opens in theatres around the UAE on Thursday.

The trailers of the film feature a spruced-up Saif Ali Khan wooing a deliriously-happy Padukone.

"My character - Meera - in Love Aaj Kal is a lot similar to who I am in real life. She is far more grounded and intelligent than Saif [Ali Khan]. I think in real life I may listen to my heart but I am not impractical either. I have always tried my best not to be deadly impulsive."

Standing testimony to her last statement is her yet-to-act-on crush for an older and much married Bollywood actor, Arjun Rampal.

The model-turned-actor played the evil husband who sets her on fire in OSO. The two have also signed another film, Housefull, where Rampal plays a doting brother.

"This is one crush that has lasted for quite some time. Ever since I was a model, I have admired Arjun. I think he even knows about it and I guess he must be flattered. It's not a guilty crush or anything. I think I have always been open about it," says Padukone artlessly.

She clams up the moment I ask whether she has any formula up her sleeve to get over a particularly messy relationship.

"I don't have any break-up formulas in my hand. It's not like I hook-up or break-up every other week. But in my experience, break-ups and the way it affects you depends on how serious you are at that point about that person. You can't simply generalise and have formulas to survive break-ups. Each and every situation is different," says Padukone with uncharacteristic aggressiveness.

A couple of years ago, Padukone had two star batsmen - Dhoni and Singh - fighting for her attention. But it's said Padukone unceremoniously dumped them when her ex-flame Ranbir Kapoor waltzed back into her life.

Kapoor and Padukone have been going steady ever since. Declining to comment about that turbulent phase in her life, Padukone is surprisingly prudish when it comes to speaking about Kapoor or her idea of an ideal date.

"In my profession, the greatest luxury is when we have time to spend with your loved ones. Spending some time together, watching a movie or a fancy meal can feel quite special."

Her expectations are equally realistic when it comes to her professional aspirations. She has adopted a slightly nonchalant stand about the high expectations foisted on Love Aaj Kal.

The film is produced by Saif Ali Khan and directed by award-winning director Imtiaz Ali. The director, who hit box-office gold in 2007 with Jab We Met, is known for his engaging romantic comedies.

"Yes, the expectations are huge. I have realised success and failure are a part of an actor's life. I don't take it very seriously. Even when Chandni Chowk To China failed, I did not let it affect me negatively. And I know I have given this film my 100 per cent, so there is nothing to worry [about]," says Padukone.

But her 100 per cent doesn't compare with the extra mile covered by her co-star Khan. According to news reports, the 38-year-old opted for botox to look younger.

"Has he? I wasn't aware of it," Padukone says. "But aside from all that, I think Saif is one of the most spontaneous actors around. I have learnt so much from him," says Padukone.

Not in any mood to be dragged into controversies, the diplomatic diva is eager to drag the focus back to her self.

"I feel incredibly lucky to be an actor today. I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the best directors and actors... So I have no complaints."

Saif Ali Khan, star and co-producer of Love Aaj Kal, was hoping that director Imtiaz Ali would choose his real-life girlfriend Kareena Kapoor as the lead heroine.

But Ali was adamant about casting Padukone and has been repeatedly heard defending his decision.

However, Padukone maintained a diplomatic stand. "Enough has been said about the issue. I want the movie to speak for itself," says Padukone.

When tabloid! contacted Ali, he reiterated that Padukone was his first and only choice. "Padukone is an absolute jaaneman [darling] and I don't have any regrets. I wanted to have a never-seen-before pairing of Saif and Padukone. There was no question of other actors because they make a great pair."