Believe and you shall receive— Ranveer Singh

globalmovie     15 Nov,2017         No Comment

I meet him on a momentous day in his career. Just a few minutes back he was on stage with his favourite cricketing legend Kapil Dev, who he’s going to soon play on the mega screen. He’s ecstatic and overwhelmed at the same time. It all feels surreal for him. But Ranveer Singh’s journey has been no less inspiring. His performance on the showbiz pitch has been as impressive. Like his hero, Sylvester Stallone, in Rocky, his was too ‘a million-to-one shot’ at the movies. And he delivered the knockout punch with movies like Goliyon Ki Raasleela – Ram-Leela and Bajirao Mastani. In between our conversation, he breaks down while recalling a cherished memory. Those tears are of sheer gratitude. They bear testimony to his struggle, talent and hard work. For the first time, I see a different side of Ranveer. Behind the zany superstar, lies a vulnerable heart. A man who remembers the uncertainty of his ambition, the unflinching support of his parents and the blessings of the Almighty.Today, his fan following is increasing by the minute and so is the number of filmmakers wanting to sign him. What else can explain Sanjay Leela Bhansali signing him the third time in a row, the magnum opus, Padmavati, being the latest. Zoya Akhar has signed him for Gully Boy after collaborating with him in Dil Dhadakne Do. Aditya Chopra, who only worked with Shah Rukh Khan, turned to Ranveer for Befikre. And Rohit Shetty, known for working with select actors, has chosen him for his next…This is Ranveer’s brightest moment under the sun. What’s more he’s hit a beautiful equation in his personal life as well. As we go through the exotic photoshoot we did with him in Mauritius, Ranveer chats about the highs and happiness. Read on…

Padmavati is the most anticipated film of the year. What’s your state of mind?

Padmavati is definitely a biggie. I’ve never experienced this kind of hype and buzz for any film in a long time. I’m happy that everyone has gone bonkers over the film’s trailer. It’s a film that took a lot out of me and it’s not just about time and effort. It was emotionally, mentally and physically draining. Now I’m prepared for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s films. I did ‘expectation management’ before the film. I knew it would take blood, sweat and tears. But it’s all worth it in the end. The entire team kept its eyes on the prize. We had set out to tell a special story and make a film that’ll be remembered for a long time. Being part of it is humbling.

You’re playing an outright negative character – the 14th century ruler Alauddin Khilji in the film. Aren’t you scared?
I’m shit scared. I’m playing an anti-hero. Only when I see the film, will I be able to assess my character. It’s a risky move for me. That’s why I took so much time to sign it. For a mainstream leading man to make a choice like this at this stage is dicey. It’s a despicable character. He’s mean.

One of my seniors, and who I believe is one of the greatest actors of all time, advised me to be careful. She told me the Indian audience is naïve. If they love a character, the love will transfer to the actor who played it. In this case, if they hate my character, the hate will be transferred to me. I felt if I had to play negative, it had to be with Mr Bhansali. Also, I cannot say no to him. If I have any standing, it’s because of his films. He gave me Goliyon Ki Raasleela – Ram-Leela at a time when my career wasn’t going great guns. He had me play Bajirao in Bajirao Mastani, a character that was ahead of my years. I’m indebted to him as an artiste. He has pushed my boundaries and got the best out of me.

Three times in a row with Sanjay Leela Bhansali. That’s something…

I’m thankful to Mr Bhansali for that. Aditya Chopra once told me that you should give your director so much that they can’t look beyond you. You must leave no stone unturned in adding value to their vision. I’m happy that this is the case with him. Sanjay Leela Bhanslali is truly an enigma. He’s a special man. He’s blessed with these unreal talents. He’s hypersensitive and intelligent. He cannot digest mediocrity. The defining phrase for Mr Bhansali would be ‘the relentless pursuit of excellence’.

The film sailed through troubled waters… The protests, the sets being vandalised… What’s your take?

I do have strong opinions on this subject, which I wish to express. But I’ve been requested by the team to not voice it to avoid further hurdles. I channelled the angst into my performance. These are issues none of us anticipated. It’s unfortunate. Apart from all these external issues, I knew this whole process would be ball-busting. I was ready for the testing times. Sometimes, it’s difficult to pick yourself up and go back to work next morning because it’s so draining. It takes a toll on your physical and mental health. But it’s all for a greater purpose. These films are for posterity.

Did it help that Deepika Paudukone, with whom you share a personal equation, was your co-star in this stressful film?

(Laughs) I have no scenes with her in this film at all. But it’s nice to have someone you can confide in. It’s comforting. It’s great to have someone who can relate to your problems. It was definitely a good feeling to have.

Popularity, great roles, awards… is it like living in a surreal world?

I do feel so! At least once a day, invariably in the morning, I find it hard to believe what’s happening in my life. Today I was on stage with Kapil Dev and I had to pinch myself. I’m going to play him in one of the biggest movies of Hindi cinema. I thank the Almighty for giving me the opportunity to do what I love. For wonderful people to work with, for my loving family and friends. Every day in prayer I remind myself as to how big a deal this is for me. I only wanted to be one thing all my life. It’s a dream which lakhs dream of. They come from small parts of the country to this big bad city to make it as an actor.

Go on…

A few days back, a close friend brought up a small fact. During my struggle period, for three years in my bedroom there was huge a black and white poster of Rocky with the tag line: His whole life was a million-to-one shot. That became the story of my life.
I had a million-to-one shot at the movies and it happened. There have been instances, when amidst large crowds, I stop engaging with the external and ask myself can you bloody believe this? It’s the greatest high when the film releases and you go to watch it in the theatres. I usually visit Chandan cinema in Juhu. I watch my film sitting in the stalls with the audience. They laugh, they react, they clap. To realise that I have connected with the audience… Nothing compares to that.

I’m sure there must be many such more moments…

Oh yes, like winning my Filmfare Award for Best Actor (for Bajirao Mastani). I couldn’t believe I was standing on stage holding a Black Lady in my hand. In the first row was Mr Amitabh Bachchan. My family was sitting in the second row. It was one of the greatest moments of my life.
When I was a struggler, my mom and sister used to read this book called the The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. It asks you to visualise your goals. And I did. During that time on my birthday, my sister, instead of candles, put photoshopped images of me on the cake. Like, she had superimposed my face on Shah Rukh Khan’s on the Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge poster. She had placed my face on SRK’s with the Black Lady and so on…

Later, I placed those pictures near the Rocky poster for a good two years. And all that manifestation worked! One day my face appeared on the YRF poster. And on another day, I was holding a Black Lady in my hand. Also, I wanted to be an actor like Amitabh Bachchan. So he congratulating me before I went up on stage… is something I can never lose sight of.

That’s a great attitude to have…
Yes, I attach immense value to every opportunity. Even when we shot this Filmfare cover in Mauritius, at one point, I couldn’t help thinking how great it was. What a beautiful place with such wonderful people working so hard to click wonderful pictures of me! My Twitter bio says ‘Living the dream’! Because every day I am.

Were there moments when your parents were unhappy about your career choice?

To be fair, my parents have always supported me. They’ve helped me at every step. They supported me when I called them halfway through the university and told them that I wanted to become an actor. You can imagine how bizarre it must have sounded to them. They told me first get the degree and then pursue my passion. My dad supported me throughout my struggle period. He coughed up money for my portfolio, for my physical training and for my dance classes. And it was not the best financial time for us. Three and a half years of waiting is a long time. At times, he did question if the path I had chosen was the right one and whether I was serious about it.

Believe and you shall receive. Ranveer Singh tells Rahul Gangwani why the adage works for him

Then?

After the second year, you wonder whether the phone will ever ring. It was also a period of recession. Films were not being made. Fewer films were being made with newcomers. I believe I started the trend. It was Anushka Sharma and then me, then Parineeti Chopra, Arjun Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Sidharth Malhotra, Varun Dhawan came in. Fortunately, it all turned around. My dad had a breakthrough in his business. I got a break. As they say, dene wala deta hai toh chappar phaad kar deta hai.

How are the dynamics at home now?

My father is getting older and gets emotional easily. The other day I was cleaning my shoe closet, which has some 100 pairs now. It was a staggering sight. Dad walked past the room and he stared crying. He said I remember once you had just two pairs – one for everyday wear and one while going out. Tell me, how can I not be thankful to God?

It sure was an emotional moment…

Yes. My grandfather, who was a pious man, once told me that he kept asking God where life would take me. For the longest time he didn’t get any answer. However, one day, he had a vision of me standing next to Amitabh Bachchan. He’d narrate this story every day with the same enthusiasm. It’s crazy how his vision came true.

Stardom comes with a price. What is the price you paid?

Certain instances can agitate you. The lack and invasion of privacy being one. False media reportage can also leave you disturbed. Sometimes people just cook up stories. They don’t realise that it could affect a human being profoundly. That it’s bad karma. Mobile phones are adding to the nuisance. They don’t even ask you for a picture. It’s bad manners. They take pictures and videos even when you’re eating or when you are in the washroom.

Any such instance that comes to your mind?

There have been instances right here in this hotel. I was doing a joint interview with Akshay Kumar here. We were in the washroom in adjacent stalls. We both turned around to see a guy shooting us. That day I realised there’s so much to learn from Akshay. The way he handled that situation was amazing. He was firm with the person but also diffused the moment. He gave him the picture and taught him a lesson too. I’ve learnt people skills and management from my seniors.

Your comment on the leaked pictures of Ranbir Kapoor-Mahira Khan…

I can only speak about my own experience. There are times when I’m at a certain place with certain people and I don’t want those private moments to be captured by anyone. But you can’t help it. You got to take the
bad with the good. I get to do what I love to do and I make a lot of money. But some things are irritating and you’ve got to take them in your stride. It’s a crazy world.

Mahira, particularly, faced a lot of backlash for the pictures. What’s your view on gender bias?

Everyone has their own interpretation. Everyone has their own set of values. Everyone has an opinion. You can hear them but you needn’t subscribe to them. At the end of the day, one should just live and let live and focus on more important things. Mahira is a great performer and an entertainer. One should ideally just engage with her at just that level.

Are there other things which annoy you?

People ask me how I am such a happy person. They ask me whether I’m really happy or faking it. I believe we are living in a maha kalyug. It’s the worst it’s ever been. I can’t understand why people find it hard to believe that I’m a jovial person. They don’t realise that I just count my blessings every day. I’ve so much to be thankful for? How can I be a dull and morose person? Maybe, if I had not become an actor, I would’ve been a different person. Perhaps, I’d have been bitter and resentful. Right now I have all the reasons to be happy.

Like what?

Work, family, friends… Everything is beautiful. I’m also someone who likes to make others happy. I guess, I’m blessed with this ability. I do that on a daily basis. If I spread happiness and joy, I’ll get it back manifold. I find it amusing that people can’t wrap their heads around my happiness. It makes me wonder how many cynics are out there. Yes, the agony of existence is always there but you can choose to ride that wave and be happy through it all. That’s why I live my life to the fullest. Ranveer-singh

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