Ranveer Singh feels he is slowly discovering his craft. The actor talks about his preparations for Bajirao Mastani


Ranveer Singh

How would you rate your growth since your debut in Yash Raj Film’s Band Baaja Baarat four years ago?

I am evolving as an actor and discovering my craft. This process has been thoroughly enjoyable. I love this zone where the mental tuning is set to one’s performance rather than everything else that comes along with ‘starring’ in a film. I have started thinking like an actor as opposed to being a movie star. This has helped me focus on my essence and core as a performer in a visual medium.

We have been seeing you in hats at events. Why did you shave off your hair?

I have been mandated by Sanjay Leela Bhansali to keep my bare head covered. I am going to be bald for a year as part of the preparations and shoot for Bajirao Mastani. Mr Bhansali doesn’t want people to get tired of the look. I will expose my bald head only during the film’s promotions.

It was necessary to shave off my head to get into the character completely. They were going to delay the mundan but it was necessary for the preperation stage. It is good to look in the mirror and see somebody else, see another character. The feeling that you are getting into the skin of somebody else seeps in. Invariably the starting point of the preparation for any character is to begin looking like the character.

While shooting films, I always ask the film team to send outfits. For instance, with Bajirao, the minute you put on the armor and the regal clothes, your demeanor changes. Your posture immediately takes shape of the character’s. It’s the same with all films that I have done besides Zoya’s (Akhtar) because hers in an urban contemporary film. For Kill Dil too, I asked for the boots and leather jackets. I needed to know how to walk around in the shoes and how to move in the leather jackets. For my character in this film, I wanted a loose body language. Getting into the look is the starting point for me. The rest flows from there. The voice, the energy, the body language is what I like to experiment with each character.

How will hiding your bald look help the film? Is it part of a promotional strategy for the film?

I have always revealed my look for films. But such things are resultant of how the movie marketing game is changing these days. During the shoot of my debut film, the production house, Yash Raj Films, was secretive about things. We never had any journalist on the sets. The stills of the film would go out to the press in a designated manner and at a pre-decided time. With the rapid evolution of social media and online press, things have changed.

The number of movies and cinema halls have increased since. There are more platforms to fill so there is an emerging school of thought catching up with the traditional school of thought that says if you believe in what you have created, put it up. There is no point holding on to it. You eventually want people to consume it. These are different routes of movie marketing and what I do with my look is simply a function of that. I never cross the producer or the director. I will make it a point not to put it out if they say so.

What is your character Bajirao like? Are there any shades of you, the person, in him? Do you relate to any of your earlier characters on screen?

In terms of characterization, Bajirao is an extreme personality. I am nothing like my character. He is a Maratha warrior from the 1700s, a strong silent matured guy, very different from me. My character in Kill Dil was closer to my age. That character had some similarities and differences to my real self. However I could relate to him as his mannerism, body language and conversations had a childlike feel to it. In Zoya’s yet-to-be-released Dil Dhadakne Do, I play a character that is closest to myself. There is no preparation going into the characterisation. I just sit with Zoya, understand the character, do readings with the cast.

Bajirao needed me to lock myself in a hotel room, switch my phones off and lose all my frills to fit the character. It demands of me to offer something new, a new voice, a new way of standing, a new way of walking. Some films require that heavy characterization which is quite satisfying. You deal with director to director, film to film. Usually a director too guides you through the preparation process, walking you through what all they need from you and what all you need to do. I am really happy with what I am doing and working with some of the most talented filmmakers.

What are your expectations from yourself as an actor?

I don’t get excited when I see actors repeating themselves. They act like themselves in every film and though I like what they do, after a point you know what to expect. It is always more exciting to see actors whom I don’t know what to expect from. Daniel Day Lewis is someone who is the paragon of what I would like to achieve. Moving forward should be starker and starker. People shouldn’t be watching Ranveer on screen but his character. I want the variety that I give the audience so high, that they can’t believe that I am the same guy giving them this wide range. People shouldn’t believe in the first shot that I am the same guy from Kill Dil who has done a Lootera and will now be seen in a Bajirao Mastani.

– Priyanka Jain