Ranveer Singh, 29, has grown up in a very affectionate home and that clearly reflects in the warmth that he exudes all the time. He is talented and energetic, but the most adorable thing about him is how he wears his heart on his sleeve all the time. Over a cup of coffee and roasted makhane ahead of his much-awaited Dil Dhadakne Do, we met him at his Khar home, where he is currently recovering from his shoulder injury. He talks to Bombay Times about the affectionate Zoya Akhtar, the sorted Anushka Sharma and why the girl he loves the most in the world is his sister Ritika.
Who did you bond most with working in Dil Dhadakne Do?
Zoya Akhtar and Anil Kapoor. Zoya because she is a very affectionate person. She is somebody I knew before I became an actor as we had common friends and we meet often socially, but I was simply blown away by her Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and I knew that she has the most unique cinematic voice. When she was narrating the script to me, by the interval only, I was convinced I was doing the movie and that is a testament to the strength of the script. I was keeping my fingers crossed that she gets solid actors to make a film like this which has an ensemble cast, as not all actors are open to being a part of an ensemble film. But Zoya did. Shooting the film got me very close to her and we got on like a house on fire. We would chat and joke all day. She is a full on person and I became like Zoya’s pet. Like a teacher has a pet in the classroom, so I was her pet. Anil Kapoor is somebody I have a default affection for. I have grown up watching his movies. He made me want to be an actor. Genuinely, he is my screen idol. I was just too excited that I was going to be acting with him. He never gave that senior vibe and was like a bro. We would go to the gym or go out together when we had an off day.
What is Zoya Akhtar like?
What sets her apart is the endless amount of affection that she has. She is very loving. She is a nurturer. She treats me like a toddler. She is very sensitive, very respectful and the protocol on her set is immaculate. It’s a very disciplined set. I had always only heard about the disciplined way in which Excel Entertainment works, but I have to say that they are the best producers.
Given your past relationship with Anushka Sharma, how difficult was it for you to work with her now?
I remember being very excited when Zoya told me that she was considering Anushka for that part. I was mostly convinced that she would decline it. And I told her, ‘Well, all the best.’ It was just a feeling I had. And then Zoya told me that she was on. And I was so excited that I would get to work with her again. I know that I have a great give-and-take with Anushka. That our energies, when they come together on screen, make for a great watch. I think she has the coolest part in the film and I am glad that she had the foresight to recognise that and her security as an actor to take up a part like that
The girl I love the most in my life is my sister Ritika
All credit to her for making a damn good choice. I was thrilled to know that she would be the driving force of my character in the film. Band Baaja Baaraat established us as an onscreen couple and so I was looking forward to working again with her.
You know Anushka very well. What is she like?
She’s crazy. She is a wild child. She has a very strong sense of righteousness and is very proper in all her dealings. She is a very honest person and if she feels something, she will say it and will not bother about the consequences. She is a very secure person and calls a spade a spade. And she has really evolved as an actor. I remember in one of the scenes, while the camera was rolling in Dil Dhadakne Do, I am thinking to myself, wow, how she has evolved. She has done consistently well with every film and was stunning in NH10. I have great affection for her brother and her parents and she will always be a special person for me. It was great to reunite with her. I was already shooting on the ship and she joined later. We caught up for a couple of hours. I am really really happy with all the success she has been seeing lately and I am her genuine well- wisher. She has made some very intelligent choices and I am very proud of the work she has been doing. She has the most sparkling equity amongst the young actors today.
Has she changed over the time you have known her?
She has calmed down a lot. She was always high energy and a high-strung person in general. And while she still has a lot of energy, she now has a grip on it. She is a sorted person, but her sense of humour is the same and she loves taking the mickey out of me. Actually strangely, the way Bittoo and Shruti (the characters played by Ranveer and Anushka in Band Baaja Baaraat) were in the film constantly bickering, but still having affection for each other, that’s sort of the way we are off camera. I came into her life 4-5 years ago and I know her for a long time and I see through all the layers, but I know at the end of the day that she is a good-hearted, loving person and honestly, that is all that matters. Everything else changes with your experiences and with time. All the superficial stuff is all mercurial and permanently changing, but her core remains solid.
You are a loyal person, right?
Yes, am extremely loyal. If I were ever disloyal to a person, I probably could not sleep at night. For me, loyalty is paramount. It’s a virtue that I value in people and it’s important for me to have. So, for instance, my mentor Adi Chopra put his faith in me despite all odds, so I will be loyal to him for life, no matter what.
Is it true that you refused a film, just because they were not willing to take your hairdresser Darshan?
Yes, it happened on Dil Dhadakne Do. You have to see the relationship beyond hairdressing. He is amazing at his work, but there is a relationship you share beyond what he does. He is a part of my support system. For someone, he may be my hairdresser, but I have a very personal equation with him. I expect a commitment from him that he needs to be exclusive to me, then I too need to pay back. Loyalty can’t be a one-way street. I can’t tell him that the producers can’t take you, so you have to sit at home and don’t have a job. So I had to stand up for him and just to be in the good books of producers, I would not suddenly agree to drop him.
A very close friend of yours told me that the girl you have loved the most in your life is Anushka. Is that true?
The girl I love the most in my life is Ritika my sister. She is my second mother and is two years older. She pampers me crazily, is my spine, my strength and she is what keeps me centred. She is so sensitive to me, so understanding and always selflessly does so much for me.
Talk about working on Bajirao Mastani
It’s the biggest film of Indian cinema that I am getting to work in only my fourth year. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime character for me to play, just for the kind of person he was, a warrior, leader, husband, father, lover, the kind of points of his life chronicled in the film, the emotional moments you get to display playing Bajirao. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any actor playing him at any stage of their career and so for me to get it in my fourth year is quite a big deal. I know for a fact that it will be a career-defining part for me and I am giving it that respect. I am pretty much putting everything into it. It’s a huge responsibility as it’s a massive film being mounted on a gigantic scale. It’s sort of portraying a life of a man who is, in a sense, a hero to people even today.
How did you get hurt?
This is what you get for doing your own stunts. This was outside Jaipur doing a war sequence fortunately on the last day of shoot. I was on top of a horse doing a stunt sequence, with a stuntwoman with me and she kind of lost her balance and the horse was at all sixes and sevens, having an off day. It happened very quickly and unfortunately, I came out of it with a very serious injury. I have torn a ligament in my shoulder that has just been reattached through surgery.
So has your injury delayed the film from coming out this year?
Fortunately, this happened on the last day of the schedule and as luck would have it, I got hurt only in the last shot of the last schedule. So we didn’t lose anything fortunately and Mr Sanjay Leela Bhansali continued as he pulled up other stuff, as his style is very malleable and he, being the producer and director, he has the flexibility and can change things at his will as he has that much control. So he has not lost a single day. In fact, he has been shooting non-stop every day. But yes, it’s now imperative for me to get back. My doctors are all treating my case like an athlete’s case and I am getting a very high level of medical attention. I have to go back to sword fighting in four months and it’s very intense action that I will have to get back to, so I need to make sure that all my systems are working 100%.
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