Shubha Shetty Saha
Still sporting his gravity- defying mooch, Ranveer Singh seems reluctant to get out of his Bajirao persona even though the film is up for release soon. This perhaps reflects the actor’s passionate temperament towards his roles, life and relationships. Excerpts from a chat with the actor.
Q: You went into a cocoon before starting on Bajirao Mastani. How much did it help you?
Ranveer: Oh, that was valuable. Words can’t express what I gained from the experience. Boxing champ Muhammad Ali had said something to the effect of,
‘All the work is done before you go under the lights.’
I had only three weeks
before the shooting commenced and those had to be intensive. I was at a suburban hotel and would take a special elevator to go to the gym so that I could avoid meeting people. I spent hours there to begin my physical transformation, to look like a man with immense strength. I remember reading up and watching everything I could lay my hands on about Bajirao. The thing is Bhansali sir (Sanjay Leela Bhansali) had given me the freedom to present myself as I wanted to. He told me that he trusted my creative choices and what I brought to the table and he would go with that.
Q: Did he? There is a general perception is that he is too controlling.
RS: On the contrary, he is the most collaborative director who knows how to empower his people. He has worked with an elite bunch of actors like Rani Mukerji, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, SRK and Hrithik Roshan and has brought out lasting performances from each of them. So, I hope with this one people say that they couldn’t see even a trace of my personality in Bajirao.
Q: It seems like an energy-consuming process for you.
RS:It was. After this, I want to go away somewhere and take a break. Playing Bajirao was an intense experience. I need to chill for a bit after this.
Q: How are you maintaining this mooch?
RS: I take 10 minutes every day. I apply the strongest gel by using a specialised paintbrush and then use a hairdryer. I like it; it’s a bit like the one Salvador Dali sported. As I don’t consider myself an extraordinarily good looking man, this kind of works for me.
Q: Bajirao was a passionate man who had such tremendous self-belief that he’s said to have not lost a single war. Is it difficult for a man of today to replicate that kind of single-minded focus?
RS: Yes, it took some doing. I kept questioning and imagining why he made certain decisions that he did. Their priorities and values were different. Their relationships too were very different because there were no communication technologies. However, I did find a few similarities between his personality and mine. Just like him I, too, have dream which I want to pursue with single-minded focus. You know I am a crazy history junkie. I love going back to those exciting periods.
Q: Which era do you most want to go back to?
RS: It is really a tough call. There are so many civilisations that I find attractive. I would like to go to the evolved ones; may be the Roman Empire. Yes, I want to witness the grandeur, politics and debauchery during that period. I would want to be there just to check out the hedonism and I find these things really trippy. There were two things I really wanted to play during my career — a warrior and a gangster. And here’s my big chance to play the warrior. You know, Bajirao fought till death to get something he believed in without fearing the consequences. I can relate to that.
Q: You in a way are like that, isn’t it?
RS: Yes, but sometimes you need that validation from another person’s life to understand that what you are doing is right. A number of times a part of me questions myself if adopting a diplomatic approach towards things and people is a better way of dealing with situations. I see a lot of people around me doing that and I sometimes think maybe there is some merit to that, if that is the wiser way of living. But then I am not diplomatic. I relate to the way Bajirao lived his life. He was fearless of consequences and was an extremist. It was all or nothing for him and I am like that. I have evolved a bit since doing this movie. I had a hell of an experience after my shoulder was badly injured. I became emotionally stronger, wiser and little more mature after I came out of that. I have grown up a little more.
Q: You are not as emotionally vulnerable as you were earlier?
RS: No, not as vulnerable. Some things will never change. I will always be oversensitive, over attached person. I have had a tough year personally. Lot of my happiness comes from my physicality. Here I prepared myself to be a killer machine and one mishap shattered my shoulder making me stay at home for two months. For me, that was a big blow. The day I feel physically fit is the happiest for me because I feel I can achieve anything. And when I was at home, not being able to even do the basic things, I went into a strange phase. I needed a professional motivational speaker to come and talk to me to get me out of that phase. This year was dismal also because I lost my best friend under very tragic circumstances and then I lost my grandfather who I was very close to. Furthermore, playing Bajirao was emotionally draining because it tapped into certain emotional areas of my life that I didn’t want to revisit and I had to bring out those uncomfortable emotions and splash them out on the screen.
Q: You mean you had to revisit some emotions and situations that you didn’t want to?
RS: Yes, again and again. In a way, it kind of works on your mental health.
Q: But going back to an emotion or situation that you are avoiding can be cathartic…
RS: Definitely. But certain things remain unresolved and going back hurts you more. Maybe it is a place you don’t want to go to. I will just say I had to go to those places again and again.
Q: Do you trust people less now?
RS: I will just say that my circle of friends has become very small over a period of time. I was this friendly person who was close to a lot of people. But gradually the circle became smaller and there are very few people I trust. That includes my team. I want it to be like that because I would rather nurture my substantial relationships than just scatter energy. This is not something I planned. It happened organically and I am okay with that.