Monday, June 8, 2015

Ranveer Singh

“I have no confidence in my own facial features”

By Ankita R. Kanabar

(From the June 6, 2015 issue of Super Cinema)

Modesty takes a whole new meaning when you say you're not good-looking at a time when half of the country's women (or even more) are swooning over you. So, what is it that has worked for Ranveer Singh? Is it his natural charm, or the choice of characters that made an impact? Perhaps, it could also be his impulsive nature or crazy streak that makes him stand-out. But while he is all of that, he’s also someone whose dedication surprises you. You know he’s living and breathing a character when you actually see a different side to him every time you meet him. A side that’s similar to the character he is currently essaying. While he’s been busy promoting his latest release ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’, what occupies his mind is the mammoth ‘Bajirao Mastani’. The bald-moustache look adds to the feel. But what remains the same about him, is his energy at any given instance. Being as candid as always, Singh talks about ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and his injury…

Among all your characters, the one in ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ must be the closest to the real you?
Every character has a bit of me in it, because otherwise it wouldn’t look real. But yes, ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’, is actually the first time where I’ll be seen as an urban contemporary character in a bonafide way. After Zoya (Akhtar) shot the film and saw the rushes, her first reaction was ‘you’re so urban! I didn’t know that.’ She said that since people have not seen me doing something so urban on-screen before, it looks like a new me. Farhan (Akhtar) saw it and even he felt, this was a really different turn for me as an actor. He was very impressed to see the versatility. For me, getting into the character was just a matter of time, because this is perhaps closest to how I speak. 

And then you moved to a character as drastically different as Peshwa Bajirao…
That was a journey in itself! The good part is, I think I’m blessed to have a wide personality disorder maybe, so I can play these different characters. I really enjoyed ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’, because it’s a different school of performance. Farhan introduced the casual, candid, young, conversational syntax in ‘Dil Chahta Hai’, we saw that in ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ and ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ is also filled with that. Because of which, sometimes, at the end of the day, you feel, ‘what did I even do today? Just sat on the sofa and spoke?’ It felt like a holiday film, and of course even the family in the film was on a holiday. I enjoyed my share of that, but by the end of it, I was craving for some Bhansali (laughs). It’s been beautiful working with Zoya, but what you’re supposed to do on Zoya’s set is exactly what you’re not supposed to do on Bhansali’s set and vice versa. It’s completely north-pole and south-pole. It’s so amazing that both these films are coming in the same year. I needed to scream, shout, bash my head against the walls, lose my voice, sweat and bleed after ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’. I was ready for it, but when it came along, it actually proved to be quite difficult. Becoming Bajirao was quite a process. I’d locked myself up in a hotel room for about three weeks and I’d only see my accent coach and physical trailer. Working on my Marathi, the physical structure, living with the material was difficult but I completely enjoyed it. I was off the radar, with no phone or internet. Not all films require that kind of preparation but this one needed it because it’s humungous. It was difficult to create a character so distinct also because Mr Bhansali was more hands-off me than ever before. It’s his biggest film, biggest character and he had complete faith that I’d do something and present it to him. He didn’t even do one reading with me. It’s quite a big thing for me to have a guy like that have faith in my ability.

Did his faith in you stem from ‘…Ram-leela’?
Yes, it came from there. I think ‘…Ramleela’ was the predecessor, it was the warm up before this main task. We had to come together in ‘…Ram-leela’, to be able to do ‘Bajirao-Mastani’, because we worked in great synergy. I’m also very adaptive to his style. What I can give to Mr Bhansali, I’m pretty sure, he can’t get that from any other actor. I’m fully receptive to his style of functioning and his process, which is why I perhaps, he has that amount of faith in me. He recognises the fact that I pour every ounce of myself into what I’m doing. I would never compare myself with Robert De Niro, but he did have an extra special collaboration with Scorcese, Bhansali sir and I, are also like one of those director-actor combo which bring out the best in each other. He trusts me, so after ‘…Ramleela’, I felt that I had a little chance, but this is a massive film, so I couldn’t be that sure. God knows my commercial standing today doesn’t justify that kind of budget, but with Mr. Bhansali, Deepika and me coming together again, it’ll have some kind of draw. Every time he wanted to make a film, he always wanted to make ‘Bajirao Mastani’, but he ended up making something or the other. Finally he’s making this and you can see that he’s all over the material. He’s always had this film in his mind and heart and you can see that. He’s in blistering form. I’m really happy with how it’s shaping up. And if we just see it home in this thick, rich form then we’ll be able to create something special.

You’ve always been a method actor, and I can say that because even how your character walks in ‘Gunday’ is different from a ‘Kill Dil’. But you’ve mentioned earlier that being over-prepared also isn’t good. Have you changed that part now?
I’m glad you noticed that. Yes, I’ve adapted myself to a new style because there’s a criticism my directors had with me. Earlier they felt that I would be so nervous that in order to get over my nervousness, I would over-prepare. When you come on set over-prepared, you can’t break what you’ve decided and do something else. I heard them out but it only took my experience in ‘…Ram-leela’ with Mr Bhansali to actually break that. He validates you with so much confidence that you something with full conviction. He’s helped me a lot with breaking that limitation of mine. I’ve become more spontaneous. Now before a film starts, I prepare, imagine writing it all down on a piece of paper, and throwing the paper away just before you shoot. Then whatever comes to you naturally, in that moment, was always meant to stay, the rest doesn’t matter. You may not have to employ everything just because you did it as homework.

I remember you telling me how you talked at Anushka Sharma, and didn’t talk to her, during ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’ with she pointing that out. This time around when you worked with her, did that change as well?
Oh that has completely changed. I can’t do it any other way. I feel disoriented now because I still work with actors who just talk at you, they don’t talk to you. You sense that their gaze is stopping. They’re looking at you, but not talking to you. But the only way it works is that you have to trust your co-actor, and connect to them. ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ was also written in a way that, to make Farah-Kabir work, they had to be connected. Anushka and I have evolved as actors and I’m sure that for her it was like acting with a completely different person this time around.

Your injury during ‘Lootera’ was one of your toughest phases but you came out of it strong. Now when you got injured again, how did you deal with it emotionally?
I was really bummed out. ‘Bajirao Mastani’ is the most physically demanding role of my career, so breaking my shoulder during that film was not cool at all. I fell off a horse and didn’t expect to be told that I would have to go through a surgery. It felt like glass shattering around me. I remember getting into the car and crying after the doctor told me that. I was quite depressed for a number of days, but it happened and I had no choice but to fight. So, I tried seeing the brighter side of it. I got to watch a lot of movies sitting at home. Secondly, all the angst and frustration that I went through because of my injury, shall now be channeled into the film and Bajirao’s life which is great. In a way it was a blessing in disguise because I’ve lost all my muscle mass, and thankfully at a point in a film where I’d have to lose it in any case. Because I was at home, I also got to grow my own moustache for the film, which I love. I actually love the beard, moustache and long hair look. If I didn’t have to keep changing my look for characters, I’d probably keep that look because it covers up my flaws. I have no confidence in my own facial features.

Now you’re just being modest...
No. That’s what Aditya Chopra keeps telling me. The first thing he told me which he still says, is that, ‘you’re not good looking, so you have to act well.’ I can only hope my acting makes up for those flaws (smiles).

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