We’re in a radio channel’s recording studio. For the last 15 minutes or so, we’ve been standing outside, listening to Ranveer Singh, and his co-star, Parineeti Chopra, laughing and singing, with the former picking mostly tracks featuring Govinda. He’s been waxing eloquent about the senior actor for a while now.Later, during our conversation, he refers to himself as his bhakt (follower). We wonder if such relentless show of fanboy behaviour makes even Govinda — who’s well past his heyday — cringe. It’s good publicity, of course, for the film they are doing together, Kill Dil.
One thing’s for sure. On the face of it, Ranveer is everybody’s best friend. It’s not just Govinda; or Parineeti — who’s sitting on his lap now as we enter — "she’s a friend," he says; but also Ali Zafar, who’s with them in the studio. "We have a soul connection… like we were born and raised together," he says of Ali.
Earlier this year, he was saying similar things about, and striking BFF poses with, another co-star, Arjun Kapoor. Before leaving the studio, he even gives the RJ a big, long hug.
Camaraderie seems to be the man’s forte. "I make friends easily. I’m friends with everybody I’ve worked with, and Arjun and I did get along extremely well during Gunday," says the actor. He mostly glosses over the question of whether or not such display of affection can begin to look exaggerated. Instead, he shares a bit of earnest, but generic, philosophy: "Friends are the relations we come into the world and choose ourselves. There was a time when I had loads of friends. But I have a few, quality friends now, not all from the film fraternity," he explains.
But let’s give Ranveer credit where it’s due. The boy’s not from a film family. Yet, with just the half-a-dozen films he’s done so far, he’s experimented. He could have stuck to urban comedies post Band Baaja Baaraat (2010), or Ladies vs Ricky Bahl (2011). Instead, he did a period film — Lootera (2013) — and a much stylised version of Romeo-Juliet from the Sanjay Leela Bhansali stable — Ram-Leela (2013). "I’m a risk-taker," he says, adding, "I’ve always played high stakes with all my decisions in life."
As we talk about risks, the condom endorsement he did earlier this year comes up. "I knew it wasn’t a safe decision; that I was taking a risk… I knew I was shaking things up. But not playing safe has worked for me so far, and I hope I can keep it that way," says Ranveer. The move worked spectacularly, of course. And somewhere, in the way he dresses (his fashion sense is quirky but unapologetic) and speaks, you sense that the actor is aware of the advantages of pushing the envelope a little, of doing things others might be unsure of doing.
He’s even managed to develop an off-screen persona that goes against that of the average, politically-correct Bollywood star. "It’s okay to do and say whatever one feels, as long as it’s not offending anyone. I find it too taxing to be careful about what you say or do," he says.
Also, in an industry where stars have built careers by hanging on to their on screen image, so far, Ranveer seems keen to surprise. He sits here now with a hat pulled over his head; through the edges, you can see the evidence of a recently shaved head (a look for a film that’s on the floors). In his new release, Kill Dil, he has a healthy head of hair, but the David Boon-esque moustache from Gunday is gone.
Before that, of course, was the body-oiled Romeo from Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ram-Leela (2013), which established him as a male sex symbol, and ensured that all directors have since made him take his shirt off. "I have no problems with it. I love being the sex symbol," he says, pauses, and then adds, "The thing is, I used to be an overweight child. I did not get female attention till much later in life. So, if this is how it comes now, I’ll take it."