To hear him tell it, Ranveer Singh has always been a setter of trends, rather than a follower. The actor, who most recently made waves with his portrayal of Sultan Alauddin Khilji in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat, was present at the News18 Rising India Summit, where he spoke at a free-flowing session moderated by Rajeev Masand. So when a fan asked about his style quotient, pat came the reply. “I was pulling the style envelope even when I was in Class 4. My teachers used to call me vivacious and all and that's what I became when I grew up. I was ahead of the curve. I have always been like that," laughed the actor.
Ranveer took to the stage with a dance routine from his much celebrated and censured film, proving yet again why he’s such a crowd-pleaser, as the audience at the summit erupted into cheers and applause. "I wake up every day like I'm living a dream. When a film does well it is empowering. I need to punch myself. I wake up every day and think I am living a dream," said the actor.
Given that he began in the industry as a rank outsider, the conversation began with Ranveer’s entrance into Hindi cinema and his big break in Band Baaja Baaraat. “The kind of reactions I got for the movie posters were ‘Who’s this guy? This is Yash Raj’s new boy?’ Aditya Chopra said ‘I can't put you on a poster and sell you though you have to do act really well. You are not conventionally good-looking, which means you are damn fugly’. Band, Baajaa, Baaraat has good memories. Arjun Kapoor jokes about it saying "dhandaa Rs 20 crore ka, legacy Rs 200 crore ki", said the actor, noting, "Aditya Chopra realised that star system is killing the industry and found a man by proper audition system, trusted me and said that with a little bit of hustle and luck, you might actually make it. Sunday night the movie came out (Band baaja..) and Monday I was famous. When I first came in the limelight post-Band Baaja Baaraat, it hit me like a truck.”
Speaking about limelight, how does Ranveer manage his immense fan following? He said he knows the names of select fans and keeps a tab on them “as one would know a friend”.
“I can look at the crowd and immediately say who the real fans are and who are the rowdy ones. Once somebody approached me for a selfie while I was peeing! You learn a lot from people like Akshay Kumar and Shah Rukh Khan. Mobile phones have made it very difficult. You don't know when somebody is filming you. ‘We are the last of movie kids, you not so much’, SRK said to me," said the actor. He also had a bizarre incident to share, recalling “Once I was getting out of the bathroom in the dressing room and there was this guy filming me while I was buck naked. I ran across and grabbed the phone, while I was naked and deleted the video immediately. It goes to such extents. But I know my fans from mischief-makers.”
The conversation soon veered, as expected, to Padmaavat. Describing the frustration he, his co-stars (Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor) and their director Sanjay Leela Bhansali felt, Ranveer admitted, “It was a very frustrating process because none of this was in my control. I was furious, livid. It was absolutely wrong. I couldn’t do anything and was asked not to do anything. Don't make our lives complicated. There's so much money put it. So, I decided to just stay away from it.”
Going into detail, the actor spoke about the fury he felt at the vandalism of the film’s sets by fringe group Karni Sena and their acolytes. “When Padmaavat sets were vandalised, my shock turned into rage. I couldn’t believe that we’re living in 2017. I had to be physically restrained. The equipment they broke provides livelihood to thousands. I value the sanctity of the set. It's my place of worship. You don't go to my place of worship and do this.”
When asked about how it was to get into the skin of a character like Khlji, Ranveer said, “Khilji is out of my system now. I am a different person now. Getting into the head and heart of Khilji was a dangerous process. You don't know how far you could go into the rabbit hole. I used to jump into a tub of ice to relieve myself of the physical pain. The mental part of Khilji was something I never did before. I went through some pretty disgusting and disturbing stuff. I don't regret anything. I believe everybody has a dark stream and I have to tap into it in different manner. It was like taking all the 'kachra' (garbage) inside your being. And then putting it on fire. What came out was the performance!"
Asked if he felt let down by the government during the Padmaavat controversy, Ranveer Singh says, “I prefer to see the positive. The film got its release, with police deployed outside theatres and then went on to earn Rs 300 crore. I have moved on to another film and you guys will soon see me in Gully Boy and Simbaa. I don’t want to rake up any issue that’s already transpired."
When a fan asked him about his relationship with Deepika, the usually candid Ranveer replied, "I think it’s a relationship of mutual admiration. Though, I rate her high on acting, and she doesn’t. There’s a lot to learn from her. She is amazing and I am blessed to have her in my life."
The session came to an end with fans getting pictures clicked with Ranveer and dancing with the actor on stage.