‘I’m too complex, too layered…’

mohini chaudhuri | Updated on January 19, 2018 Published on January 08, 2016

The hero has arrived: Ranveer Singh

Ranveer Singh is not just the hyper-energetic goof you see at film promotions and roasts. His portrayal of Peshwa Bajirao shows he can also bring emotional heft to a character

Through the frosted glass doors of an office cabin at Yash Raj Films, one can only see a pair of black boots furiously pacing the room. Inside is the restless Ranveer Singh, less than a week after the release of his magnum opus Bajirao Mastani. There’s a fairly large media contingent waiting to meet the actor after what is being called his career-best performance. Singh has limited time to spare and his manager is keeping a strict eye on the clock to ensure that he meets everyone. Yet every once in a while, the actor leaves the confines of the cabin to hug former co-star Parineeti Chopra or mentor Aditya Chopra before vanishing again.

About 30 minutes later, it’s my turn to meet Singh. He’s still pacing briskly. I feel guilty being seated while he removes chairs from the way to ensure a smoother walk. “You should feel guilty,” he says with a laugh. “I feel my thoughts are better articulated on the go.” Dressed in all black, Singh is back to looking his real self. He’s lost the beefed-up torso and handlebar moustache he’d acquired for the portrayal of Peshwa Bajirao. The hair on his bald pate is slowly inching back as well. “I became obsessed with this character. I’m sure when you go that deep into something it must lead to some kind of personality disorder. I really think I need therapy. Doing this part made me a little crazy,” says Singh.

To prep himself for what he calls the acid test for the actor in him, the 30-year-old pulled out all stops. From isolating himself in a hotel room, practising a Marathi accent with a dialect coach, to breaking a shoulder while filming a battle scene, Singh feels he went to war and back. “I had to dig deep in the course of shooting this film and I realised there’s a lot of reserve. My co-star (Deepika Padukone) will admit that there were times when she would say, ‘I’m done.’ But I always found I had more to give,” he says.

If one went purely by his media appearances, you probably wouldn’t peg Singh as someone capable of bringing such emotional heft to a character. During film promotions he’s a hyper-energetic goof, on the red carpet he turns up in PJs, and the first brand he chose to endorse was a condom. “I have a raging libido,” he had famously declared. Does he identify with this public perception or is there more to him than meets the eye? “Ask me again. I want to articulate myself well,” he says, chomping down the last of a chocolate brownie. “Do you remember this Eminem song, ‘The way I am’? It says, ‘I am the way I am. If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am?’ Everything they write about me is true to some degree. Having said that, I don’t subscribe to tags people assign to me. I have a strong belief that our flesh and bone is all mortal. What we really are is souls… the energy that we actually are, is infinite,” he says. “You’re getting this, right?” he pauses to check.

Finally giving his feet a rest, he kneels on the floor and rests his head on the table. “If something is infinite, then I don’t think it is important to put names and tags for the convenience of one’s own cognition. If you say Ranveer is quirky, eccentric and energetic, it becomes the definition of who I am… But I’m too complex, too layered to be just that.”

Yet, many of his colleagues will admit that they took a while to wholly understand the guy who turns up on sets with a boom box or attends meetings in red pants and yellow shoes. “If I’m wearing bright colours, does it mean I want attention? I’m not wearing it for others. I like those prints and I enjoy wearing colourful shit. Even when I’d wear the school uniform that 20 other kids were wearing, I’d be the centre of attention,” Singh says.

To many, Singh is an unlikely star. Karan Johar admits that when he first laid eyes on the Sindhi actor at the Yash Raj office he was aghast at Aditya Chopra’s choice of hero for Band Baaja Baaraat ( BBB). Johar, who even tried talking his director friend out of it, took his words back after watching Singh’s debut act. “Criticism tends to hurt more when you’re new,” says Singh. “I remember coming out of a movie at PVR Juhu and two girls standing next to the BBB poster said, ‘This is YRF’s new guy? Yuck!’”

Singh’s off-screen demeanour, which was once deemed annoying and attention-seeking, is now being called endearing. More importantly, he’s proved his acting chops time and again. Last year alone he went from a rich spoilt brat from New Delhi (in Dil Dhadakne Do) to an 18th-century warrior in the span of a few months. Singh admits that the success, though humbling, can also get heady. “Fortunately I’ve lived 25 years of my life as a normal person,” says the man who comes from a business family. “As a family we’ve seen many ups and downs, so my upbringing predisposes me to understanding how transient the frills of my profession are. And, my god! Can it take your attention away!” he says. He goes on to share that his best pal admonished him for talking only about his endorsements. “‘Why aren’t you talking to me about your character?’ my friend questioned. I now truly understand that the only thing that matters is being a performer, everything else is simply peripheral.”

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Published on January 08, 2016
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