Ranveer Singh admitted that he has moved beyond surface-level relationships. Ahead of the release of Befikre, which hits screens tomorrow, Ranveer Singh opens up on his bond with Aditya Chopra and Sanjay Leela Bhansali, journey in Bollywood and present notion of romance.
Aditya Chopra writes, “Ranveer is Dharam. Dharam is Ranveer. Even before I knew I’m going to direct this film, I was writing it for Ranveer.” Does it become easier for you given that this part was meant for you and only you?
The challenge for me is at a very personal level. Here is somebody who gave me everything, who picked me up from nowhere and put me on the map, made my dream come true and means everything to me. He has only been my mentor and my producer. But now, things are different. It’s his story that I’m part of. The stakes were very high for me, knowing that I’m now going to be a proper creative collaborator with him. So how are we going to function in this new dynamic between him as a director and me as an actor? It was important that I make good of this opportunity.
In such a scenario, does it become difficult to say ‘no’ to him?
I would never say ‘no’ to him, even if he was making the crappiest film in the world.
Because you are indebted or you really want to work with him?
Because I just love him too much. I’d take a bullet for him. Even if he came to me with a terrible script, I’d be like ‘Maybe we need to work on the script,’ but I’d still do it. I’d not say no to him for anything ever.
Is there any other filmmaker that you’d do that for? Sanjay Leela Bhansali?
I think I’d do it for Bhansali as well. He has enriched me too much. There is a special creative equation there. Nobody knows more than me what he has done for me. He has opened up dimensions in my mind. He has given me so much self-belief. Like I always say, he makes me do things that even I can’t imagine I’m capable of doing. He makes me look like this amazing actor whose performances are nuanced and layered, but it all comes from him. He is the one who makes you do it. He has shown me my own potential and there can be nothing greater than that.
Back to Befikre. What was it like shooting in Paris on the streets? Were the locals amused?
They were very amused and intrigued. It is always amusing for a bystander to witness a shoot. We shot a lot in the touristy spots, so it was exciting even for the tourists. It was so wonderful to see so many people from the Diaspora show up for the shoot. I guess some people found out where I was staying in Paris. There’d be people waiting downstairs [of my residence in Paris]. Somebody tried to break into my apartment once. People would leave things outside my door. And I was living alone, so it was a little bit scary.
How is Dharam different from Bittoo?
Their socio-economic backgrounds are very different. Bittoo is at home, in his space in Delhi. The very critical context for Dharam is that he goes abroad, that he is a desi boy in Paris which makes all the difference. Yes, he is uninhibited, fun-loving, always down for a good time, full of beans, pleasant chap, great sense of humour and also knows what to do unlike Bittoo. Dharam is a stand-up comic and he is a lot more polished and educated than Bittoo who is a runt.
From your interviews lately you give the impression that you are a traditionalist when it comes to romance. Befikre says: No inhibitions. No rules. No limits. No fears… Is that a notion of romance that you connect with?
Let’s say I am not in that phase, as of now. I have definitely been there for the longest time, till things slowly started changing. So I know of it. I can connect with it as a result.
Was that period fulfilling?
Not at all. It was just surface-level relationships. Promiscuous. It had very little feeling attached to it.
You should elaborate on this. Befikre is not endorsing that romance.
Befikre has got feelings and emotions. It is not revelling in high drama and emotion. It is a very light film. I’m very proud to say that it is very fresh in its presentation and has a new language and treatment. Our team believes that the mainstream audience has evolved; they don’t need the traditional dose of heavy emotions in order to be satisfied or entertained by a film. There is that thought process that the audience needs rona-dhona and only then they will be fulfilled. It’s a risk but it is yet to be seen if it will find acceptance.
We know that you are consumed with Padmavati currently but are you doing Zoya Akhtar’s music project?
It’s not my place to make any kind of announcement. It is the prerogative of the producer. Zoya is one of my favourite people in the whole world. She is one of the finest filmmakers of mainstream Hindi films. I have a very beautiful relationship with her which is different from what I have with Adi and Mr Bhansali. There is a lot of affection and humour. She has got such a personality. She knows so much about so much. She is such a cinephile. She is one of the coolest chicks I’ve met.
Are there any other directors you’d like to work with?
I have the most wonderful camaraderie with Karan Johar. He is somebody who gives me such happiness that I’d just like to work with him on a film once. Rajkumar Hirani for sure. He is such an endearing individual. I love spending time with him. He is full of love and positivity. SS Rajamouli is another filmmaker I would love to work with. I really want to do comedy. Befikre has a lot of it but it is still a romance.
But I also want to a balls-out comedy. It is hardest thing to make people laugh. There is no better trip or high for me than to watch a film with a live audience in a hall and see them in splits, holding their sides with water coming out of their eyes. I also want to do a slick, big-budget action with punch lines, shit blowing up that kids go nutty about. I want to do the superhero genre as well.
You have referred to mainstream Hindi films. Are you open to doing independent cinema?
No. I appreciate indie films. I only consumed mainstream fare until the age of 18 which was all Home Alone, Die Hard, Rambo and Jurassic Park. It was only when I went to University in US and took my first film class and was required to write a paper on Taxi Driver, that I realised there is not one kind of cinema.
After that I developed this vociferous appetite for films and just wanted to watch every kind of film is there. I took up a job in a video library. Nobody would come there. So I’d be on eight-hour shifts and just watch film after film. But my focus is on mainstream entertainers. I want to be part of films that can be a universal watch – people from every walk of life and every demographic can sit together and have a shared experience.
I’m a champion of mainstream films. Not that I am [averse to indie films] I’m going through a phase right now… I’m tripping on the films of Gaspar Noe and Lars von Trier.
But if you have the star power to draw audience to something niche, would you do it?
Yes. There are definite signs also with the success of films like Pink, Udta Punjab, Neerja and even Kapoor & Sons; it shows that the audience is open. What I’m inclined towards is to take credible material and present it to a broad spectrum of audience.
The challenge is always to do a film that marries the best of both worlds. For me films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Sultan are amazing. The films that Aamir Khan does like 3 Idiots. I have got my bets on Dangal too. I guess it is a reflection of me as a person and as an entertainer that I don’t want to leave anyone behind.
Do you feel you are more settled in Bollywood now more than ever?
It has been amazing after Bajirao Mastani. Whatever I have earned in terms of equity and popularity, everything has multiplied so much after just this one film. In my head Bajirao is just one of the many such memorable films that I would like myself to be a part of.
I have a vision for a very respectable filmography at the end of my career so I know that whatever has been done is simply a fraction. Given that I have such a long way to go I don’t feel like I have arrived anywhere.
I’m very inspired by my Dil Dhadakne Do co-star Anil Kapoor who once said this very beautiful thing to me: ‘Main toh aaj bhi struggler hoon.’ For me, he is a legend. He approaches every part like it is his very first. Every day of shoot is such a trip. When I see that kind of childlike wonderment still burning in him, it is really inspiring. That’s the kind of hunger that keeps me motivated and driven.
And it becomes more important to have it because you are an outsider in Bollywood. The great part about that is that the people I’m surrounded with – my family and closest friends – are all not famous so I always have that other perspective. It means that I take the glamour, the stardom and the hype but appreciate it from an arm’s length. I understand that it is transient.
There will be ups and downs. I have got it today but nobody knows about tomorrow. I focus on what I need to do which is try my best to keep challenging and surprising myself, and evolving as an actor by doing different parts and pushing it by working in different languages. I’d love to do something in English.
I hope I will evolve as a creative person and muster enough courage to explore different avenues within the space of mainstream Hindi films like may be write or direct a film, produce one or compose music.
From Dharam, you move to playing a villain in Padmavati.
To be honest I have just shot for 11 days. It was good that we did one schedule to get an idea on what I am in for next year. But I am still grappling with the character. I don’t have a grip on this person. I am still exploring. That’s the beauty of our process [Bhansali and Singh] that we discover characters as we go along.
We kind of hit the groove later on. We don’t prep together. I did lock myself in an apartment near Film City and did solid three weeks of prep. That’s the real work apart from actually shooting the film.
Online Source: India Today.