Ranveer Singh: Bollywood's Don Quixote
Hi!BLITZ|November 2016

In an industry falling apart financially at the seams, you sometimes need an entity like Ranveer Singh to remind you of the joyous madness of the movies and why we watch them. He’s the Don Quixote of Hindi cinema, playing out his heart, body and mind, always delivering the unexpected, keeping the audience hooked for the next act, the constantly performing artiste of our times. In this interview with Shalini Sharma the actor talks about how a career threatening health scare liberated him from fear and judgment and empowered him with the conviction that he can do anything he wants.

Shalini Sharma

Remember the movie Anand, a strappingly tall actor, restrained, almost awkward looking, someone you know you must pay attention to, but there’s too much happening in the film to take him too seriously. Then couple of films later, Amitabh Bachchan explodes into the national consciousness and that ‘woah’ moment.

The movie Band Baaja Baaraat promised an interesting talent called Ranveer Singh. Lootera struck a sweet spot…there was appreciation, but none were swooning; it looked like an ambiguous career that could go anywhere.

When Galiyon Ki Rasleela Ram Leela released, it just didn’t just resurrect the lush flamboyance of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, it threw a human firecracker into our midst, the message detonating loud and clear that a very unique talent had been unleashed from the cloister; that it was wild, wonderful, unstoppable. The real Ranveer Singh had finally broken through.

The current audience is selfish, easily distracted, perennially bored, always waiting for the next big thing. Fan base is the most movable entity today.

Ranveer Singh plays into that audience both on and off the screen, with astuteness and surety, imbuing his stardom with ferocious energy, theatrical always in the grandest possible way, always wooing the crowd. He struts into this shoot determined to break all the rules and do it his way. He’s unique and he knows it.

SHALINI SHARMA: You have done very different genres of films in your short four-year career. How would you trace your acting evolution?

RANVEER SINGH: I was too raw in my first film. I was an over-rehearsed actor who’d think and overthink, was so fixed on the role interpretation that often I’d get stuck and refuse to get moulded into what the director wanted. My first two directors Maneesh (Sharma) and Vikramaditya (Motwane), both pointed out that it was something I had to work on—that I would have to adapt faster, better and more effectively.

A spike in my learning came very significantly during my first collaboration with Mr Bhansali during Ram Leela. Mr Bhansali has a very fluid style of filmmaking, his creativity is free-flowing, he keeps improvising and asking you to do things on the spot that you don’t expect. You’re thrown into the deep end and just have to do it because time is money and everything is set up for you to perform. Even if it is something that doesn’t sit with you immediately, I had to quickly get over it and do the action. I evolved rapidly as a performer in that film.

SS: Ram Leela is when the audience first experienced the Ranveer Singh brand of maniacal energy. It was very exciting, new, you built on it off-screen too and now you own that space.

RS: Let’s go back a bit. I was personally very disappointed with my performance in my second film (Ladies vs Ricky Bahl). I was very new and hungry, hoping for a performance oriented part but wound up with a film which was really more popcorn. It was very light and about looking good.

After that came Lootera, which on hindsight, is my favourite performance. Today I appreciate its cinematic quality and poignancy. I believe it’s a much greater film than it was perceived at its release. I have seen it multiple times and understood more about my own performance—it’s so subtle, things I emote probably do not register on a first time viewing. I was also too conscious at the time of shooting, “Am I going too low-key? Am I just so internal that nothing is translating on screen?” My fears perhaps came true for the audience. But there is a section of the audience, very keen cinephiles mostly, who find that to be my best performance till date. I learn that more and more people are seeing it now on DVD and write in to me that the film is actually a cinematic jewel that did not get its due credit at the time. It was overlooked in the award season for which I felt tremendously bad for Vikramaditya, for the director of photography, the sound design…because the film was technically very superior.

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