Ranveer Singh speaks with fondness about his director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and his scorching chemistry with Deepika Padukone in a tête-à-tête with Shweta Kulkarni.
A lover boy, an inextinguishable vigour and an undying fervour for cinema – just few of the many things that best describe actor Ranveer Singh who, in the thick of his alleged on and off quixotic link-ups, has also managed to make news for his performances. Be it the flamboyant Bittoo Sharma of BAND BAAJA BAARAAT to the restrained Varun of LOOTERA, Ranveer in his three-year-old career has already made some memorable on-screen characters. Now with RAM-LEELA nearing release and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali showering non-stop praise on him for his performance, there is a strong chance of another powerful character being etched on his career graph.
Recuperating from a recent bout of dengue, Ranveer, in turn, cannot stop raving about his film and his director. Excerpts from the interview…
What was the experience of working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali like?
He has a tradition of working with a very elite bunch of actors and bringing out their most special performance. Whether it is Aishwarya Rai, Rani Mukerji, Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan…he did bring out some of the most special performances from some of the best actors in the industry. So when you get selected as Bhansali’s leading man, there is also a responsibility that comes with it. Working with Bhansali has been the most creatively liberating experience of my life. It’s because of his approach towards actors. It’s almost like he will throw you a challenge – and the challenge is not easy, it’s difficult – but then he does everything in his power to make sure that you are armed with everything to meet that challenge, to live up to it.
Bhansali is said to be a tough taskmaster, often known to get harsh with his actors. Did you find working with him, difficult?
It is not easy to work with him. No doubt, it is exhausting to work with him! It is physically exhausting, it is emotionally exhausting but it is also immensely fulfilling. However, that’s how I like to work in films. I want to work with directors who nichodo (wring) me… characters that demand I put my best foot forward. I love that feeling of exhaustion at the end of the day because it is very fulfilling. You know that you have gone on the sets and you have given your everything. I remember, I used to leave the sets and there were so many instances when I didn’t have the energy to even take my make-up off… I used to just crash at the end of the day.
That is indeed a sign of hard work! So, how many hours at a stretch did you sweat it out on the sets?
Well, it is not the hours really, it is the intensity. Mr. Bhansali takes a lot of pain in creating his frames, there is a lot of detailing that goes into it, so there is a lot of waiting. It is the same with everybody that he works with. Our cinematographer Ravi Burman, who shot BARFI! before this, was saying that sometimes he’d want him to do certain things and he (Burman) would tell him, ‘Sir, that will take four hours’, but he’d reply, ‘Don’t worry, take four-and-a-half hours if you want but give me something special.’ It’s the same with actors; if there was a very tough scene he would say, ‘If you don’t feel like doing it today, don’t worry about it, we will pack up today and come back tomorrow and do it. But you give me something special.’ You know, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose used to say, ‘Give me your blood and I will give you freedom’… It was almost like that. Mr. Bhansali says, ‘Give me an incredible amount of you and what I will do with it will be special and extraordinary; I promise you that.’ So I think his approach is unique. He is so supportive of the actor. He allows the actor to interpret the material and he lets the performance be born out of the actors. But you have to be like a blank slate because his creative process is very volatile. He could turn it around completely…he could do anything so you have to be prepared for those shifts in gears because they can happen anytime. You have to adapt to that side…it’s not easy but what happens is it leaves a lot of room for spontaneity. He creates space for those happy little incidents, which will lead to that movie magic that he chases every day.
How has the experience enriched you as an actor?
Well, he has made me unafraid to make mistakes. He has made me very, very fearless. It takes a lot to reach that level as a performer, where you are completely fearless regarding making mistakes. There is no right or wrong – there are just different ways of doing things. He liberates you creatively. I think we were quarter of the way through shooting and one day, while we were sitting by the monitor, he turned around and said, ‘I don’t know who Ram is.’ I was like, what do you mean? He said ‘You know, the writers and I put this character down on paper. You have reduced that piece of paper to a starting point where you made this character your own and you come and give me something every day that is completely new and unexpected. What’s beautiful is that I am loving everything that’s coming out of you, so I am keeping all of it. I don’t have a take on this character anymore.’ Someone of his stature giving you that kind of respect as a performer makes you feel better about what you are doing. That feeling is priceless because that is what makes you unafraid to make mistakes. It gives you so much encouragement. He makes you feel that you are the best actor in the world!
The trailers of the RAM-LEELA are definitely looking promising and one thing that’s noticed all through is your sizzling chemistry with co-star Deepika Padukone.
I am quite happy about the fact that the chemistry is being noticed. When you do an intense love story like RAM-LEELA, the driving force for the story is the chemistry between the characters and I am glad that people are noticing this chemistry. The chemistry is underlined and shining through all the promo material. In order to show the conflict in the film, one requires that kind of chemistry that comes from the immense watch-ability of two people together. It makes for a good watch when you are doing this genre of film so I am very, very happy that the chemistry between the two of us is shining through all the promo material.
Apparently, as per reports, the chemistry has also moved from the reel to the real space. The rumour mills are abuzz about your alleged affair with Deepika.
No personal questions please.
Fair enough, but it is quite strange that you have been linked with all your co-stars…be it Anushka Sharma, Sonakshi Sinha or now Deepika Padukone…
As if I am trying to do that! I do not even want that. It comes in the way of work, and it takes away the focus from work. It is not something that I like to do or want to do. However, it’s something that I am getting used to now. Initially, I didn’t like it but slowly I’ve started getting used to it and now I really really, really do not care about it. I used to get quite upset whenever I used to read such reports – I just don’t read those reports anymore. I think they just over-analyse, they probe way too much and there is really no need to probe a person’s personal space.
A public figure, especially an actor, seldom has a personal space… you can’t really escape that ever.
I am here to act in different films and I would like to limit it to that. I don’t want my personal space to be in the public domain. It’s really up to me to protect it as much as I can – and I try to. I do understand that if you are an actor and you are famous, these things are going to happen with you…I understand that completely. However, becoming famous was not the reason I became an actor. I did not come here for fame, I came here because I enjoy acting, I enjoy dancing, I enjoy performing, I enjoy entertaining people. As long as I get to do what I love to do, I am willing to pay any price for it.
This article first appeared in November 2013 issue of Cine Blitz magazine