Ranveer Singh: Disturbed by cut-throat nature of show business
Man of the moment Ranveer Singh on becoming Alauddin Khilji, his idea of success and pitfalls of stardom
How much convincing did it take to get you to play Alauddin Khilji — the menacing, power-hungry emperor who is all-black?
I was apprehensive about taking up the role as it was a big risk. Sanjay Sir [Bhansali, director] laid out the cards right at the start and told me that my character is bisexual, so I could make an informed choice. I think the bisexuality added another layer to Khilji's complex personality; it was a complete dismantling of a traditional moral compass. But, this is a profession where taking big risks defines people. People I look up to —Johnny Depp, Daniel Day Lewis and Steve Jobs - they are all mavericks and I find myself drawn to their spirit. I wanted to do something ba**sy because that's me. No one around me wanted me to play this character. The Indian audiences love the actor when they love the character. So, my act of Khilji - a bad guy who is bisexual - could've gone horribly wrong. People could've hated me. After much deliberation, I was up for it only because I knew it would be a fulfilling process.
Your character in Padmaavat is almost unhinged. How does one prepare for such a role?
I tapped into long-lost dark memories, which I had buried under multiple layers. I brought them out only to do this part. But, I think it was cathartic. I feel cleansed, as if the garbage from my system has combusted into a fruitful performance.
When you play an all-consuming part like Khilji's, how difficult is to slip out of the role?
Each role seeps into your system differently. Playing Khilji was taxing; it was almost as if I was holding my breath. The day the shoot got over, I exhaled and moved on. My characters from Bajirao Mastani (2015) and Lootera (2013) took a long time to leave me, but this man was gone in a flash. I wanted the negative spirit to leave me.
Ranveer Singh as Alauddin Khilji in Padmaavat
Stardom has been becoming on you right from your first film. Is there anything about stardom that doesn't appeal to you?
The invasion of privacy is starting to get to me. The camera phones are extremely intrusive. I am also disturbed by the cut-throat nature of the show business. It shocks me because I can't be so cut-throat. I cannot pull someone down to make myself look better. It happens around me every day and I haven't been able to come to terms with this. What adds to this is the recklessness in reportage. You must report news with responsibility. I have had numerous instances where people have written things about me that had no truth to them.
Since you don't believe in being cut-throat, what's your view on competition?
I have never been extremely competitive. There's a certain thrill and adrenaline rush when there's healthy competition. But, I cannot live with myself if I am required to damage someone else to get ahead. You won't find a better team player than me. Even in my movies, I'd take on for the team every day. I don't play to win. At the end of the day, I am an artiste and art is subjective. You can't quantify art. I don't compete with other actors for this precise reason.
I would assume Bajirao Mastani was the film that changed your life. But now, Padmaavat is your biggest opener till date. Now that you look back, what's that one day that made Ranveer Singh?
I'm working towards a diverse body of work. It won't be easy; it will take time. I am going to take my prowl at it, with patience and hard work. When I broke my shoulder [during the shoot of Bajirao Mastani], I was down in the dumps. I would listen to motivational speakers to uplift my mood. That's when I found my definition of success — it's the magnitude of beneficial footprint you can leave on society. I have a lot to give back. But no matter where I go, the most memorable day of my life would be when I got selected for Band Baaja Baaraat (2010). It was my fairytale — a kid, with the singular dream of being a Hindi film hero, made it despite the bleak chances of million to one! I became that sperm which swam through. Mine is an unbelievable cinematic story and I'll never forget how I felt in that moment.
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Anushka Sharma scolds Ranveer Singh at an award show