As 'Bajirao Mastani' gears up for release Ranveer Singh bares his soul and gets candid about this film, his filmy journey, Deepika Padukone, his upcoming projects and his New Year resolutions.
Excerpts from the conversation-
Q. Ranveer, you are known for your infectious energy, be it at the promotions or any other events. What is the secret of that?
A. I am very enthusiastic na. The film has been made well. The trailer and the songs have been getting good response. So the feeling is good. I keep wondering why people say that I have extra energy. I don't think so. But I guess, you know, by the journalist standards, I feel I have some extra energy. I always wanted to be an actor since childhood and I became one. So (laughs)..whenever I get a chance to do certain things, I focus all my energy towards it. I always feel that I have believed that there is no tomorrow.
Q. How much do you feel you have grown as an actor?
A.The first time I went on the sets I had no idea about anything. Even though I was an assistant director I was clueless about several things. I didn't learn much about acting then. I used to be a low ranker AD. My job was to handle the crowd. I used to handle 2000-3000 junior artistes and had no idea about what's happening on the sets. I used to always ask Anushka (Sharma) about the several things happening on the sets. I was like a child for whom things were new. So from there I have started my journey. So not only about acting, even the craft of film-making, what all goes in making a film, how is one expected to function on the sets, everything I learnt on the job, on the go and especially about being a public figure. For the first couple of years, I used to say anything in the public. I used to talk like I was sitting in the drawing room with my friends. In my first year I was very confused. I didn't know who to be and what to be like. Now with little bit of validation when you get for your work you start feeling confident about yourself as a person. So I think 2013 was a very big year for me after a dream start in 'Bang Baaja Baraat'. Then post that there was no release for 19 months. That was again, after a big high, a sort of a quiet phase. Next come 'Lootera' which received critical acclaim, few months later 'Ram Leela' came and it became a big breakthrough for me. Now I started feeling comfortable about being myself. I think that was a year of transition for me.
Q. How was it, a Bandra boy playing Bajirao?
A.I am a very avid film watcher. I love films and I am very fascinated with the actors. But I have immense respect for those actors who are completely able to transform themselves into character. When I heard the 'Bajirao Mastani' script, I knew that my part of Bajirao had scope. So far in my career I have been able to do it to a degree which is recognized and I am very happy to get that kind of recognition for versatility. From being a Delhi boy in 'Band Baaja Baraat' to playing an intense lover in 'Lootera' and then that same year playing a flamboyant, mischievous guy in 'Ram Leela' which is so contrasting to 'Lootera'. And then 'Dil Dhadakne Do' was a completely fresh turn. For me it is very important that audiences recognize that I am a versatile actor. I always want to offer them something fresh.I want to work with the best film-makers and I want all of them to believe that whatever character they have, I will be one actor who will be able to fit into their mould regardless of what kind of character they have. I locked myself in a hotel room for 21 days for 'Bajirao Mastani'. In the morning I used to lift heavy weights in order to change my body into that warrior kind of physique. In the afternoon I used to sit and learn Marathi to speak Hindi with the Marathi accent. Then in the evening I used to be sit with the scripts and watch warrior epics, Marathi films and also try different styles of walking., sitting and standing. I learnt every detail to get into this character. My process for every film is very different. Peshwa Bajirao for me was a distinctive character. It required a lot of homework which I did. On the sets once I leave my room I didn't want anyone to remind me that I am Ranveer because in my mind I was properly in my character.
Q. As you said you got into the skin of Bajirao's character, but now after the film how much do you think has Peshwa Bajirao influenced your own personality?
A.I think of his that really sticks with me is his fearlessness. He is an absolutely fearless man. He even says 'Jo bhi kiya hai danke ke chot pe kiya hai'. He really doesn't fear consequences. He doesn't even fear death. It's something that I have learnt from his character. I ask myself what is there to be afraid of.
Q. Would you like to play Chatrapathi Shivaji on-screen?
A.I would absolutely love to. Maybe later..after a while though. I am happy to be doing 'Befikre' next. It's just what the doctor ordered (laughs)..just some light happy romance. I really needed it. 'Bajirao Mastani' is a very intense film for a year. It really affects the person you know. So I have earned a vacation. I wanted something light after 'Bajirao' so I am very happy right now.
Q. Do you on purpose try and take different characters to experience something different?
A.There is no character that is easy. Each character is a character unless some director comes and says Ranveer I want you to play yourself. Either that will be really easy or really hard.
Q. At MAMI, you had said that one thing that you want Deepika to do is to go the Hollywood way. Now that she is, are you absolutely happy about it?
A.I am very happy and proud of her.
Q. But she hasn't confirmed yet that she is doing the Hollywood film?
A.She doesn't confirm a lot of things. (bursts into laughter). I will let her answer it. It's her career. I am doing Hindi films. Ask me about that.
Q. Recently the Peshwa descendants said that they are not happy with you playing Bajirao. Any concerns on that?
A.I really think that a lot of people are jumping to gun. As far as this film is concerned, I think that they should watch it first.
Q. You have worked with both Deepika and Priyanka. One quality that you would like to imbibe from them
A.I think that both of them have one incredible quality that I would also like to imbibe somehow if possible for me to do which is multi-task.
Q. When will you start shooting for 'Befikre'? Where will it be shot?
A.It is being entirely shot in Paris. It will start as soon as my hair grows back. (laughs).
Q. Have you signed any other film after 'Befikre'?
A.After 'Befikre', no. I haven’t signed any film. I am considering a bunch of other films. After 'Befikre' I’m not even close to deciding what next.
Q. If given a choice, which genre would it be?
A.I’m completely open and there’s nothing I’m really craving for. To be honest, after ''Bajirao Mastani' I was craving for something like 'Befikre', after that, I’m completely open. I do want to do a comedy. 'Dil Dhadakne Do' was a dramedy, a black comedy. I would also like to do children’s films, superhero films, light-hearted romance is happening ('Befikre').
Q. Would you also like to do an adult comedy?
A.I don’t know, I guess I’ll have to hear the script.
Q. Did you feel like you had large shoes to fill in considering the fact that Sanjay Leela Bhansali had penned the script of 'Bajirao Mastani' for Salman Khan.
A.I think he had penned the script I don’t think it was for Salman sir, but yes, he was the original choice for the part. Honestly, when films are offered to me, I really don’t consider the baggage and history they come along with. It’s not the first time that I’m doing a film for which I wasn't the original choice. It’s something that doesn't cross my mind when films are offered to me. Ultimately, I realize that once the film is made, all of that becomes irrelevant and now the film is made and it’s up for release. Salman sir is one of my screen idols. As a child, I've grown up watching his films. He was supposed to be a part of it, so I really hope he watches 'Bajirao Mastani' and likes it. It would be amazing if I get a call or message saying you did a good job.
Q. You had injured yourself while shooting for the film and had to rest for a couple of months. Was was it like when you got back after a break?
A.Actually what had happened was, I got injured on the last day, last shot of the action schedule; it was bad luck. I could have come out completely unscathed from it, but it happened to me on the last day. We couldn’t have taken one more shot after that because the light was going. It was just so unfortunate. Then I was forced out of action and then I went into a very funky emotional space. I was very negative, low, depressed, angry and frustrated. Since two and a half months, being forced out of action is no fun. Your biggest and physically demanding film where I thought to myself that there’s so much action, talwalbaazi, dance left, Here I am from being a killing machine to back to square one because by the time the action schedule came around, I was in incredible peak, you know physical conditioning, running faster, jumping higher, being the fittest I’ve ever been. In one second I went from that to being completely bedridden. I get a lot of happiness and self confidence comes from my physical fitness so I went into a negative slump. I think I at least made good use of that angst and frustration and put it all in the performance. So I came back more fuller and enriched like my tank of angst was full and ready to be utilize for all the acting bits once I returned to sets.
Q. What is the craziest thing a female fan has done for you till date?
A.I think I have got my letter in blood and it’s not cool.
Q. Are you a more fearless person now in your approach towards your work?
A.Ya, you have to be. You have to back your choices and hopefully, with the rising popularity and a stronger commercial standing, that will perhaps empower me to make braver film choices and bring unconventional subjects into the mainstream which is something I always wanted to do.
Q. Any resolutions for 2016?
I want to drink more water every day, I want to meditate, I want to become more flexible with my body, I want to strength my core, I want to have a clean diet, I want to start riding motorcycles again. I used to be a rider but my mom kind of forbidden me from riding it. I am 30 years old now so I’m not listening to her now.
Q. Will you get off your stubble?
A.I don’t know the kind of look Adi sir has in mind. I’m not ready to take my moustache off as of yet. It was supposed to happen today (15th) but I chickened out.
Q. Have you wished Rani Mukerji or Aditya Chopra?
A.Yes, I spoke to Rani ji and Aditya sir. I’m very happy for them.
Q. Is there anything about Deepika you’d like to change?
A.No, not really.
Q. Is there any other historical character you’d like to portray?
A.I don’t know. I love historical so I’d like to do more of them.
Q. Now that you’ve been in the space of doing a legendary Marathi character, would you be open if good Marathi films are offered to you?
A.No, like I said, my focus right now is just on Hindi cinema.
Q. How did you get Amitabh Bachchan and Sourav Ganguly to do the Bajirao dubsmash?
A.I asked them and they said yes. They’re very sweet, large-hearted and it was very nice of them to support me in that way.
Q. You’ve done a lot of dubsmash videos with many people from the industry;
which is your favourite one?
A.I think Bachchan saab’s is my favourite because it was the first one and like someone said, very right so that we’ve grown up saying Mr. Bachchan’s dialogues and to see him say my dialogue felt great.