“After Dil Dhadakne Do I was longing for some Bhansali-style melodrama”
That Ranveer Singh is talented doesn’t need to be reiterated. That his personal life is regularly written about with an uncharacteristic amount of bitchiness also needs no more press. He won’t talk about his girlfriends to the media but will flaunt them on his arm. (At one of our shoots, he takes shots of his photographs with his phone, and says, “I’ll just send it to my girlfriend.”) He’s transparent about his enthusiasm for the movies. He’s easy with PDA with whoever he meets and doesn’t mind being roasted by a bunch of comedians, because he can take a bloody joke.
Why is Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s reputation so feared? And, what are your reasons for taking on Bajirao Mastani, your second film with him?
Working with Mr Bhansali is an emotionally exhausting experience. It is arduous. It’s physically, mentally and emotionally draining — but, at the same time, it’s just as fulfilling. Mr Bhansali pushes an individual beyond his limit, to derive the best work out of that individual. His standards are very high. He demands an immense amount of effort from his people, and nothing less will do. He’s one director who can really tap an actor’s potential unlike any other, and I must say he does that with me. I had a break from the Bhansali world while I was doing comparatively lighter fare such as Kill Dil and Dil Dhadakne Do. I was longing for some Bhansali-style melodrama to perform. And, along came Bajirao Mastani. It’s such an honour that Mr. Bhansali backed my ability and believed that I could do justice to his Bajirao, his most precious character. The movie is shaping up really well. I hope I can make him proud.
This is your third film with Priyanka Chopra. How has your chemistry evolved with her with each film?
She’s an amazing actor. She’s consistent and a thorough professional. The best thing about Priyanka is that she’s a team player. You know for sure that she’s going to put her best foot forward. It’s very reassuring for me as an actor to know that my collaborator on a particular project is someone who is both extremely talented and hard-working and is going to bring her A game to the table every time. Furthermore, her range as a performer is quite extraordinary. She can be comfortable in a mainstream masala movie such as Gunday and in a new-age, urban, slice-of-life space as in DDD. She’s now mastered her craft.
I was very bratty and boisterous during Gunday; she was the senior actor who’d often put me in my place. With DDD, it really felt as if she was my sister, on and off the camera. With Bajirao Mastani, I feel like I am the more experienced one because I’ve worked extensively with Mr Bhansali in the past. Since I’m well-versed with the Bhansali experience (which is quite different from most other film shooting experiences), I’m, in fact, the one who is guiding her through the motions on this one.
What does Deepika Padukone bring to the table as a co-actor?
Deepika is the perfect foil for me as an actor. Her energy contrasts mine, and it makes for great synergy on screen. She makes me look good. It’s truly commendable that she continues an upward graph in terms of growth in her craft with every film she performs in. Her emotional intelligence is extremely high. She is both sensitive and sensible. She’s grounded in spite of all the staggering success she’s seen in the past couple of years. I feel she’s transcended in her craft and that she’s ready to work with world-class film-makers such as Woody Allen, who may pose newer and mightier challenges for her as a performing artist. She has all the makings of a global superstar and, knowing her immense tenacity, I am quite sure she will achieve this status over time. She is very focused in her work and, perhaps, the most hard-working person I have ever met in my life. Her ability to multitask is extraordinary, and her work ethic is simply unparalleled — I guess it comes from her sports background. It’s just a wonderful experience to work with her.
How has your personal relationship evolved with Anushka Sharma since Band Baaja Baaraat?
Anushka’s really come into her own as an actor and as a professional. She’s got the same lateral thinking, artistic madness and the devil-may-care attitude in her demeanour that she had when I first met her. I keep seeking her approval and I keep pestering her with questions, asking her if I have improved as an actor since BBB and LVRB [Ladies vs Ricky Bahl]. I consciously tried to be the best co-actor to her during DDD to make up for the pain in the ass that I was during BBB and LVRB. It makes me happy to see her happy.
Have you ever felt the need for a formal training in acting?
I believe acting is something that cannot be formally taught. Formal acting training can help in equipping one with certain tools that one can use while acting. It also provides an opportunity for a new actor to perform in front of an audience — it’s important to keep practising the craft in front of a live audience in order to stay in the groove of performing. Acting courses provide students a conducive atmosphere and a ready audience to practise in front of. But, acting is something that cannot be taught, really. It comes from within. So, either you’re born with it or you teach yourself over time. You keep doing it, over and over again, until one day it comes from within.
If you were to make a mixtape for someone, which songs would be on it? And, for whom would it be?
I would make a drive mixtape for my dad. I’d put together a mix of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Kishore Kumar, RD Burman, Mohammed Rafi and AR Rahman.
What are your plans after you wrap up shooting for Bajirao Mastani?
I’ll probably need some form of therapy. Maybe I’ll go off to the hills for a while. Lose myself to find myself again.