It has been five years since he entered Bollywood with Band Baaja Baaraat (2010). But it’s only now that Ranveer Singh has become the talk of the town, especially with his latest hit, Bajirao Mastani (BM). The 30-year-old’s performance in the film has been lauded by critics and audiences alike. Riding high on this success, Ranveer talks to us about his film choices, and more.
Have you managed to soak in the praise coming your way?
I am still feeling the rush. There’s too much work right now. As soon as that gets over, I will take a break. I had planned to take a break earlier, but things change between two Fridays. After the release of Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013), which was one of my breakthrough films, my phone didn’t stop ringing for days. People wanted me to make more appearances, more endorsements came my way, directors wanted to meet me, etc. Since the first day of BM’s release, it has all started again, and of course, you don’t want to miss the wave. After all, dhandha hai yeh, dukaan chal rahi hai (this is my business, and it is doing well) (laughs).
Trade experts feel that BM has put you in the big league, alongside the Khans.
I don’t believe in the ranking system. They [the Khans] are the titans of the industry. Let’s face it — they are the nerve centre of our (B-Town) ecosystem. I am happy that trade experts feel this way; I think it’s a positive thing. But for me, as a creative person, what is most important is to have the power to make brave choices. There are certain subjects I would like to showcase in mainstream cinema, and I can make those choices only if I am perceived to be a bankable hero who can shoulder big projects. This has been established after BM. I am feeling a sense of empowerment now after getting the feedback [for BM] from producers, who are offering me films, and from trade experts. I am happy that now I can do films that excite me without any inhibitions.
Are you happy that your film has done well even though it released with Shah Rukh Khan’s movie?
I am not concerned with anything else other than my own film. Even in the days leading up to the release and during the promotions, we were often asked, “Aapki film Shah Rukh ki film ke saath aa rahi hai (Your film is releasing with SRK’s).” It was only at those times that I would realise that [the two films are releasing on the same day]. I just have too much to be happy about at the moment. It’s a big deal that my film has done well even though there was such stiff competition.
You met SRK a few days back. How was it?
We hung out at an awards function. He was in a happy mood, so I’m guessing that his film has also done quite well. Whenever we meet, we never talk about films.
Is it true that you almost became a victim of the casting couch?
I said this even when I made my debut, but no one took notice of it at that time.
So what had happened?
It was six years back. I don’t know if that sleazy man is still around; I hope he isn’t [around], for the sake of the current lot of struggling actors. He had a place in Andheri. The day he called me there, I could sense that something wasn’t right. His place had paintings of nude figurines and some s**t things written on the walls. That was an eye-opener for me. Other struggling actors told me that he was notorious for this stuff. They told me, “At least he called you home. He would take others to toilets of coffee shops.” It’s sad, because at the grassroot level [of the industry], such things exist. Having experienced it myself, I know it’s a reality.
Even as you do a lot of work, your personal life is always in the news. Does that bother you?
It’s important to have at least two releases a year. I also hope to do well in them. Presently, people are only talking about my work in Bajirao Mastani (BM). People talk about your personal life when you don’t have a film.
You must be on cloud nine with all the positive comments about your performance in BM…
Success and failure will keep happening. The important thing is that you shouldn’t get too bogged down by either. I have experienced the same with my earlier films, but this level of appreciation is beyond all of them.
2015 seems to have been a good year for you…
The biggest thing is not just BM; Dil Dhadakne Do also released this year. The actors I find most inspiring are those who are versatile. I always wanted to be a versatile actor. To some extent, I tasted that versatility in 2013 with Lootera and Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela. This year, it has got more pronounced. I hope I can show film-makers the range in my repertoire.
This is your second film with Sanjay Leela Bhansali. How does he affect you as an actor?
Bhansali sir is a genius. He has an ability to push you beyond your own boundaries. I keep teasing him, saying that he is Martin Scorsese and I am Robert De Niro, or that he is Manmohan Desai and I am Amitabh Bachchan (smiles). I hope he casts me in all his films.
How excited are you about being directed by Aditya Chopra?
Till now, he has only worked with Shah Rukh Khan, and now he has cast me. It’s a big deal. I owe my career to him. When he had launched me, no one had faith in me. The new film is just what the doctor ordered — a light-hearted romance after an intense love story (smiles).