Bombay Showcase

Confessions of a cog in the wheel

Like all good actors, Ranvir Shorey is the consummate chameleon sinking into every character without a trace. The former VJ has captivated audiences in diverse roles — whether it’s the cricket-obsessed Asif in Bheja Fry , Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) agent alongside Salman Khan in Ek Tha Tiger or the vicious Vikram in Titli .

In a rapid-fire chat, the 43-year-old talks about his inspirations, acting, relationships and fatherhood.

There are murmurs that you are volatile. Are you?

Where did you hear these murmurs? I will settle for a plea of hyper or mercurial, but definitely not volatile. That is a dangerous word.

Are you a disciplined person?

On the surface, I might look casual or laidback, but there is focus.

Are you a social person or a loner?

Both — sometimes when I am in a crowd, I’d like to be alone and vice-versa.

How was it working with Konkona Sen Sharma as director?


What does love mean to you?



Giving it your all.


(The questions are getting tougher!) Marriage means keeping a promise and compromise.

Do you enjoy reading?

I did, but reading took a hit thanks to the internet. I am getting back to it. I like page-turners.

What are you reading?

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.

What are you working on?

I have just finished Nila Madhab Panda’s film. For now, it is titled Shadows of the Wind . We shot in Dholpur, Rajasthan — possibly the hottest place in the country, if not the planet — in the peak of summer. As the backdrop is climate change, we had to shoot in extreme conditions. Now I am taking a break till August for Macbeth . After that, I will start on film again. I have a couple of things lined up. It has been a good work year, touch wood. I’ve gone from one film to another.

Are you satisfied with your career?

No, no, no, no… I don’t think so. I think I’ve done well. I think there is a lot to do yet.

Do you feel your career didn’t really take off in a big way considering that you are a good actor with consistently positive reviews?

I think it took off but hasn’t really gone anywhere yet. I think it ends with good reviews.

What could be the reasons?

I don’t know. Anything I say would be speculation. There could be many reasons. That is not something I linger over.

If people have decided I am a good actor but not worth the work, there is nothing I can do about it. I do my best of the work that is offered to me. I try to work with good scripts. But sometimes when you haven’t got work for a year, you grab on to scripts that are not that great.

I think I am somewhere in the middle and that is not a bad place. Every time I look at people who are doing better — whether as able or not as able — I always think of the many people who are better than I am who haven’t even got the opportunities that I have.

So whenever I feel it is a long way up, I look down and figure there is a long way down as well.

Do you have a plan to be more successful?

No, it is not like I planned to be an actor in the first place. I used to work behind the camera. I worked in TV behind the camera for a good five to seven years of my career. Acting happened to me by chance. I didn’t start off wanting to be a hero. I stumbled upon acting. I have started enjoying it, exploring it to the best of my ability, as honestly as I can.

Between Happy Ending and Titli , which would you choose?

Titli, of course, come on!

Happy Ending didn’t work. Why?

You and I can do a post-mortem from now to eternity. The fact is, one can never be sure what is going to work. I can go out on a limb and say that changes made to the screenplay under production do not end well.

Titli must have been emotionally exhausting…

I am exhausted at the end of every project. I give it my all. Titli was especially draining as the theme: the tyranny of the patriarchy, the material and characters were close to home. That is not to say I know carjackers.

What is acting?

I’d like to quote Sanford Meisner, “Acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances”. Naseer saab (Naseeruddin Shah) has described acting as “to do.”

What most people forget is the technical aspect to acting.

I would describe acting as completing an action.

How do you hone your craft?

Theatre is the best way because it is about the moment. When you are devising a piece… say Macbeth for instance. You scrape through the layers, deconstruct it and reconstruct it.

Do you prefer comic or dark roles?

They are not mutually exclusive. Having said that, darkness attracts.

Would you like to direct?

Like I said before, I didn’t start off as an actor. Somewhere in the bottom of my heart I would like to direct. I am also happy helping other directors realise their vision. I am happy being a cog in a wheel. I feel one shouldn’t turn director unless one is compelled to tell a story. And I am so distracted.

Are you often frustrated with the roles you are offered?

The volume is frustrating. In my dream life, I will be offered 10 equally fantastic roles. As I loll about and am being fed grapes, I will have the luxury of cherry-picking them.

What are your inspirations?

My father was a film producer; he got involved in film politics. I wanted to make a mark. The mud slinging in full-page ads in trade papers hurt. Talk about dark inspirations.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 10:57:14 PM |

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