When in an interview for Film Companion, Anupama Chopra tells Ranveer Singh he comes across as essentially the same person he was 5 years ago when she had interviewed him after his first film ‘Band Baaja Baaraat”, Ranveer lets out a coy smile, widely unlike the shrewd Khilji he just wrapped up playing. Eight years in the industry, half a dozen hits, multiple awards, a crazy fan following, and whirlwind romance with the doe-eyed woman of Bollywood – Ranveer Singh has had a fairytale start to a shining career and the first words that come out of his mouth are “I have been blessed.”
He tears up just a little when he says, “I never lose sight of that one big thing that happened to me…the only thing I ever wanted to do, wanted to be, was a ‘Hindi film hero’ and here I’m doing it…it’s the greatest gift ever, and I am thankful for that every day.”
© Facebook/Ranveer Singh Official
In that moment of raw emotion, which is not actually rare when it comes to Ranveer, you can see it’s the same simple-minded Bittoo Sharma from ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’ telling Shruti Kakkar he is just happy to be with her, no matter what the circumstance. He is flawed, he is human, he is wavering, but he is real and he is middle class as hell. He is grounded enough to see his flaws and he is honest enough to admit them.
He may have played to perfection the savage khilji with a mad obsession for every ‘nayab cheez’ but he’s still the humble Bittoo Sharma of ‘Band Baaja…’ who’s just thankful his dream of becoming an actor has come true.
© Yash Raj Films
The actor has the nation eating out of his hands over his explosive portrayal of Alauddin Khilji in Bhansali’s ‘Padmaavat’ and yet he lacks the airs of a star who is at the peak of his career and has just delivered one of the many incredible performances of his career. When the interviewer hints about bringing the interview to a close, because his PR has probably given a 20-minute limit, Ranveer responds with a child-like frankness: “But why are you letting me go?” He tells Anupama he doesn’t want to go; this is the first time he is speaking about the movie and he would very much like to go on. That’s Ranveer Singh for you, redefining what being a Bollywood star means.
That capacity to be completely candid and devoid of a starry ego is what makes Ranveer win. He doesn’t try to create a personality that will match his success – that is probably the reason he can carry even the most outrageous of clothes without an iota of sartorial prudence; that is also the reason he can get into a character without bringing the obsessive need to let his personality shine. They say the true mark of a great actor is the capacity to completely annihilate the self, to be able to become the character they play.
Therein comes the proud Peshwa from ‘Bajirao Mastani’, the quiet rogue from ‘Lootera’, even the smooth Ricky Behl, the adorable middle-class Bittoo Sharma from ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’, and eventually, the menacing Khilji from ‘Padmaavat’.
© Balaji Motion Pictures
Whether you’ve watched Padmaavat or are still waiting for Karni Sena’s Khilji-esque anger to fade away, you know one thing – that Ranveer Singh is the best thing about the film. There is as much of Khilji in Ranveer as there is Ranveer in Bhansali’s Khilji. Talking to Anupama Chopra about how he prepared himself to play the menacing sultan onscreen, Ranveer said he had to channelise his inner demons. The demons that have the potential to come out and the demons that he had already allowed at some point in his life. In an industry where actors don’t even talk about their exes, Ranveer is scandalously honest.
© Bhansali Productions
He is sassy, he is smooth, he is goofy and he doesn’t care. Because he is too busy living his dream. He is too busy creating the characters he plays that he cannot dwell more on the star that he is. That is when hits and misses stop hitting you like they usually do. Like many of us, he is the starry-eyed boy who grew up on Hindi films and imagined himself somewhere on the larger-than-life silver screen. The screen where stalwarts like Amitabh Bachchan and Dev Anand created iconic memories, the screen where Shah Rukh Khan’s Raj serenaded Kajol as Simran in the icy slopes of Switzerland. Ranveer is living a childhood fantasy that is part of our growing up experience and is so universal in appeal that most of us probably have, at least, once imagined ourselves living it.
Like he says, “There is no great a gift to be able to go to a film set and perform in the capacity of an actor.” What might seem to be a clichéd statement is anything but that in Ranveer’s case. It is not, because the evidence is right there in his characters. When you witness his raw energy onscreen, even in the films that have been written off, you sense the passion that comes from absolutely loving what you do.
The process really is his prize, and Ranveer Singh is busy chasing the Bollywood dream, one Khilji at a time.