Ranveer Singh reveals several shades to himself – the anxious newbie actor, the cocky dude who knows the girls love him, the confident lootera
The street smart and cocky ‘Dilli ka launda’ that Ranveer Singh played in his envious debut movie Band Baaja Baaraat (BBB) three years ago was an image that clung to him so bad, it’s taken three years almost to shake it off. But now with Lootera, Ranveer gets to show a side of him that he didn’t know existed. That of the brooder who lets his eyes do all the talking.
But then again, that took a good talking to from the director of this romantic-thriller, Vikramaditya Motwane, for him to realise. Ranveer admits that was a breakthrough moment in the making of the film. Ranveer Singh, in Bangalore to promote Lootera that releases on July 5, is quick to protest his stereotyping. “From my second film onwards itself I have chosen different roles,” says the actor who is now three films old. “Because it’s very easy to get typecast otherwise. People think I’m from Delhi. After BBB, I just got flooded with ‘Delhi boy’ roles. It was a conscious decision then to show people I’m not from Delhi; that it was only an act, and apparently a very convincing one! My research trip for BBB was my second ever to Delhi. They saw me as an uncouth Delhi lad. I’m anything but that. I’m quite an educated Bombay boy.”
Breaking away from one image, Ranveer stepped into his next, with Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl. “It’s also very important if you’re a young male actor, to widen your female fan base,” Ranveer continues, now with a mock seriousness, which works well for him. “Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl was of course designed to position me as a desirable sex object, which I have no problems with. And it worked. I know it did!” he adds cheekily, before pointing out that the film achieved what it had to for him. “A lot of positives came out of it – it established a certain commercial standing for me. But yeah, it wasn’t really a performance part; it was a look-oriented role. There wasn’t anything meaty for me to do, or to grasp a character…it was just about looking good, being cool…you do those types of movies, but it’s important then to follow that up with something you can really sink your teeth into. That’s why I took on Lootera.”
But it was a shocking gap for a newbie like him to have between his last release and this. Ladies Vs… came out in 2011! “I didn’t want to take a 19 month gap, that too at this nascent stage in my career. I would want to have two releases a year, if not three. But a significant chunk of Lootera, to be shot in Dalhousie, was jinxed and we got it right only the third time.” He recounts how he ended up with a serious slip disc. “You are taught in acting class that you being the player, your body is your instrument. I was out of action for over three months, laid up in bed. It was very traumatic. I was very scared for myself, for my career. I was thinking, ‘Man! I have to dance, I have to fight, and I have to do it over the next 30 years and I can’t stand on my feet. I’m losing time at a time when I should be working all the time’.” With six hours of all forms of physiotherapy a day, he finally bounced back to resume Lootera.
A challenge it was then, to move from playing a sexy beachboy conman in Ladies Vs to a conman set in the 1950s. “I’ve always played characters that are loud, with lots of dialogue. Garrulous. But here’s a guy who stays within himself. He doesn’t react strongly to anything, doesn’t express too much. Feels things but has no gestures to play with. That is difficult for me to do”
At a week-long workshop before starting the shoot, sometime on day four, he says he gave up. “I picked a plastic chair and banged it on the floor and told the director ‘You picked the wrong guy. I can’t wrap my head around this. Let’s abandon this. I quit.’ Vikram sat me down and said things that changed me as a person. It was a breakthrough for me. He said ‘In all my interactions I know you have that depth to you as a person, that tehraav… it’s a side of you that you possess but don’t show to everyone. You have a bad habit of thinking it’s your birth obligation to entertain everyone all the time. That will limit you as a performer. You have to let go of your fear of showing that side of you. Only then you’ll grow as a performer’. I’ve grown tremendously with this film,” he says, after having seen the final product.
With so much talk of ‘looks’ in Bollywood, is Ranveer a body conscious person? “Ya, and the reason is that I was a little overweight till I was 14. I was chubby and became the token ‘fat guy’ in class and had that complex to deal with.” Ranveer claims that he’s one of those actors who loves to change his physicality according to the part. “For Gunday I have to build up muscle because I’m a menacing thug, for Ram Leela I had to be the heartthrob and get all sexy, and go back to being a boy for Kill Dill. Before clothes, hair and makeup come into the picture, it’s your own physicality that matters.”