Ranveer Singh Interview: I really enjoyed playing Khilji as I was free to make a lot of bold choices as an antagonist!
Singh has been receiving a lot of appreciation and adulation for the role of Alauddin Khilji in Padmaavat.
An actor has to be immensely talented and a little eccentric, too, to play a character like Alauddin Khilji convincingly. And superstar Ranveer Singh has all of that in plenty. He is supremely talented and popular as much for his colourful and whacky behaviour as his unparallel craft. Blending some quirky behaviour of his own with the cruelty and viciousness of Khilji, Ranveer got into the skin of one of the most barbaric Sultans of Delhi Sultanate so perfectly that it will be counted as a sin to imagine some other actor in the said role. In an interview with BollywoodMDB correspondent, Mohnish Singh, Ranveer talks about his character, how he prepared for it and much more.
Q. You are always very energetic. Where do you get so much of energy from?
A. Since my childhood, I’ve had this bundle of energy. I remember my school report cards having remarks like this kid is bubbly, vivacious, gregarious and hyper-energetic. I have a great level of enthusiasm. I’m very excited about acting in films. I wanted to be a ‘Hindi Film Hero’ since childhood. And because I’m doing what I love, I have a huge level of enthusiasm for it. It’s a combination of my natural hyper energy and genuine enthusiasm in what I do and that translates as a lot of energy.
Q. You haven’t shared screen space with Deepika even once unlike other Sanjay Leela Bhansali films. How different was it?
A. I didn’t have a single day on schedule with Deepika. Although we were working on the same movie, we really never met. We once had a joint meeting and then we pretty much met at the cast and crew screening. However, I used to drop in on sets to see some of their scenes and not interact. I found that very fascinating because there’s a lot to learn from just sitting and observing. I had put on weight in fact because for months I was sitting at home doing nothing so I used to make these visits. The Chittorgarh set shoot took a lot of time to be shot. It was a unique experience to star in the same film and not have a single day of shoot together.
Q. How was your experience shooting for Padmaavat?
A. There were delays due to unforeseen reasons because of which the shooting of my part got delayed. And then when our part was on, we shot continuously for 35 days. So for Bhansali Sir’s films where every scene is intense, after 6-8 days you get 2-3 days break so that you incubate. There were scenes in a day when I was on top of my voice, banishing Mehrunnisa (Aditi Rao Hydari), having a fight with Shahid (Kapoor) and the next day, I was doing other important scenes. So the shooting process and especially the climax which was being shot around May due to a delay, was difficult. Shooting at 1 in the noon under scorching heat at a piece of land in Film City, I almost felt like I would melt. I used to faint on the sets. They used to remind me to jump and then I would puke. I wouldn’t even get time to compose and would continue. That sequence specially was really exhausting. It was almost like my body was falling apart.
I remember on day 37, I called up my mom and started crying in the night saying I can’t do it, I can’t shoot tomorrow. I had a meltdown because things were starting to take its course. There were instances where my mind and spirit were intact but my body and muscles wouldn’t move. While doing the ‘Khalibali’ song sequence my legs wouldn’t move properly. They would do specific shots around my legs.
Q. How difficult was it being Alauddin Khilji?
A. I really enjoyed the character as I was free to make a lot of bold choices as an antagonist. For example, Maharawal is a righteous and noble man who has certain boundaries to be in. He wasn’t free to make those many choices. I enjoyed being Alauddin Khilji but the shooting process took everything out me, literally my blood and sweat. I remember this one incident where at Reliance Studios in Film City, we were shooting and this one day I couldn’t feel I could deliver. I was crying and wanted to leave the set. My makeup artist Madhav dada was trying to calm me down. He wiped my tears and he’s a father figure to me. There was blood spilling out of my mouth for a scene and that moment I asked him to remember this moment because here I was shedding my blood and tears together. At the cast and crew screening, he reminded me of that moment and we hugged. Because of the way the film was scheduled to be shot, I was under a lot of pressure while performing it.
Q. With good actors from Bollywood making their way to web series. Would you be interested in taking a detour from the big screen if you’re offered a great web series project?
A. My focus at the moment is to do mainstream Hindi films. The screens are becoming smaller and the consumption of entertainment is changing. We have access to world-class entertainment on mobile phones. So if you’re a Hindi mainstream film actor you have to up your game. And make a product that can compete with the product made anywhere in the world. There are films with trailers that make you feel I can watch this film at the comfort of my home and not necessarily go to the theatre. Going to theatre has become tedious now unless you’re offered a big screen experience. So my focus is to offer that big screen experience which can bring footfalls.