Royal reprieve

Bollywood buzz

Royal reprieve

His record at the box-office is sound — his only two flops Lootera and Kill/Dil saw Ranveer Singh being appreciated for his performances. There was a one-scene hilarious cameo in Finding Fanny, too. Otherwise, the box-office as well as commercial record (Band Baaja Baaraat, Ladies Vs. Ricky Behl, Goliyon Ki RasLeela RamLeela, Dil Dhadakne Do) is as breezy and cheerful as Ranveer himself.

You have to give it to the man. Still sporting a typically Maharashtrian pigtail and a royal-looking moustache of the kind that Marathi royalty sported, he is clearly still a bit into king Bajirao I of Bajirao Mastani. And Singh agrees that he has taken away something from his character.

Fearless acting

“The one trait that sticks with me in Bajirao through love or war is his complete fearlessness, which I have absorbed, though as an actor, I have already been pretty fearless,” declares the actor. “Bajirao tackles everything head-on — in his words ‘Danke ki chot pe’ (a Hindi idiom that means without a thought for consequences).”

About his own fearlessness as an actor, Ranveer says that it is born out of many factors. Chronologically, the first is his childhood desire to be an actor that remained on the boil through his academic education abroad and found fruition with the 2010 Band Baaja... Mimicking what his reel wife Priyanka Chopra said to him, he says, “She tells me that my enthusiasm and energy come from the fact that I have realised my dream, like a thrilled child telling his mother, ‘Mummy, Mummy, main actor ban gaya!’ And I am truly happy that I learnt everything about acting and cinema on the job.”

An avid film freak since he remembers, Ranveer, however, initially preferred what he had then described as a “method” kind of acting — in Lootera, for example, the man stapled his abdomen to feel the pain when he had to enact a sequence in which he had been shot there! In an earlier interview, he had stated that Sanjay Leela Bhansali, director of Bajirao Mastani, had helped him evolve and become free and spontaneous when they did ...RamLeela earlier.

“Yes, he did change me as an actor,” smiles Ranveer. “But I think I was never a method actor, which is a misunderstood term. For Bajirao..., I did prepare, but Sanjay would change many things on the day of the shoot, and then also ask for my inputs. Yes, I do take certain techniques from a popular method acting style, but for me it is a process that changes with every role, film and director and makes me get into character. And I want to show my range and versatility because I know I have it in me. As an actor, a viewer should not know what to expect from me!”

As a boy from Mumbai’s upmarket suburb of Bandra, given the opportunity to live out a warrior king of five centuries ago on-screen, Ranveer recognised that his role in this film had that scope. “For 21 days — which was the only time I got before the shoot — I switched off my phone and checked into a hotel, away from family and friends, who understood that I was at work. Every morning I would lift weights, because Bajirao was a physically powerful and intimidating man, and I had to look like him and feel like him from within. In the afternoons, I kept learning Marathi, so that I could speak Hindi with a Marathi accent!”

Ranveer confesses that the war sequences were especially exhilarating. “The elephants, the horses, the general ambience of a battle, and all the armour everyone including me were wearing, all made me feel as if I was really at war!”

All this had a flipside, however. “It would take me so much time to get into character, and two hours for the physical preparation like costumes and make-up,” he recalls. “I had gone far away from myself in the process, and then if some unit member addressed me as Ranveer, all that process would go poof! So I made it a rule that I should be addressed as Bajirao or the short but nicer Rao.”

Summing up the experience, he smiles, “It was a draining, tiring film. And I am so glad that my next movie Befikre is a light romance.” This time, Ranveer adds another big name to his roster — his mentor producer Aditya Chopra as his director.

Ranveer has got accolades from so many from Amitabh Bachchan to Naseeruddin Shah and girlfriend Deepika Padukone. “I am a people-pleaser. I love crowds, I love being a showman and an entertainer. And I feed off people’s energies. I like to make them laugh and smile,” he says, obviously pleased.

Boisterous best

With a flourish of philosophy, he adds, “Now that I am written about, I have realised that I am very scared — I have one life, too little time and too much to do. So my manner of thought is: ‘Will what is there today be there tomorrow, or am I wasting a life’s opportunity? So I always treat each day as my last, each live performance and every shot I give, every workout, every event and interview like this as my last ones and put everything into them.”

He adds, “The same applies to old buddies when I meet them. What if my best friend suddenly shifts to Los Angeles for good? What if a flower-pot falls on my head? So I want to live life to the fullest, enjoying whatever I am doing. Dullness is a strict no-no as I am a hungry person, with an immense appetite for life. I do not believe in boredom.”

At the same time, his life’s ambition — if and only when he is satisfied with his work — would be to do just one film in a year and after that be away from Mumbai, “pursuing other good things like food, writing — but not for commercial purposes! — painting, meditating, music — that would be a good life. I would love to see the world as well.”

But Ranveer is clear that the fast and fancy life of a film star must not intrude upon his “normal, upper middle-class family”. “I never meet the media in my house, and I do not like to talk about my personal life.” Because of this, he clams up after terming his relationship with Deepika as “incredibly divine yet something to which I cannot give a name.”

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