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Verve People
March 20, 2011

Bollywood Dreams!

Text by Nasrin Modak

He dreams of acting in a movie that will be written, produced and directed by him. And while an idea is brewing into a full-fledged film in his mind, Ranveer Singh tells Verve that he wants to be an established actor first

Riding high on the success of his 2010 box office hit, Band Baaja Baaraat (BBB), our Bandra boy Ranveer Singh remains modest and grounded. He openly admits that while shooting for the film, he had no idea if he was going right or wrong. After each shot, he’d look at director Maneesh Sharma to gauge his reaction. “I didn’t know what I was doing…but acha ho gaya,” he chuckles.

Getting into character
Ranveer immerses himself into the character he is playing to the extent that even those who know him closely get sucked into the narrative. Bittu Sharma’s character in BBB was different from who Ranveer is, and so to get into the full Delhiwalla mindset; he had to do a lot of homework. “I went to Delhi University, hung out with the boys (over bread pakodas, yes), attended classes with them, brought up topics like who’s hotter, Kareena or Katrina to get into their mindsets. By the time I was out, I felt like a Dilli ka launda,” remembers Ranveer.

The thought of being stereotyped
And now, his fate as an actor depends on the kind of films and roles he selects. The success of BBB may have opened several avenues for him but he really has only himself to bank on for the future. His mentor Aditya Chopra has asked him to develop his own instincts.

“My parents aren’t from the industry, so they have no real inputs. I will have to go with my instincts. A wrong decision will be a huge blow for me. But at the end of the day, I made that decision, so I’ll have no one else to blame. If my instincts are wrong, too bad for me,” smiles Ranveer.

At present, he seems all excited about his next movie Ladies vs Ricky Bahl as the entire BBB team is coming together again and the story and his role are different. “Since we sync with each other so well, it creates a fluid work environment and something good will invariably come out of it.”

The acting bug
He never thought of becoming anything but an actor. While he was decent in academics, his real appreciation came from areas like drama, debate and elocution. “I was a vivacious kid, always wanting to make people laugh – so everyone knew I was cut out for acting,” says Ranveer.

Then at 14, he had to let it go. With no film background, the chances of  acting seemed farfetched. “At the Indiana University when I took an acting course, I enjoyed it after a gap of four to five years. That was my moment of truth — I realised that anything else I do would be a compromise.”

Returning to India, he wanted to try hard-core Hindi acting, so he went to Kishore Namit’s acting school. “The kind of acting they were advocating in that class was stuck in a limbo of the 1980s-90 melodrama, something that youngsters shouldn’t be following. I found it rather regressive, so I left,” he says.

The struggling years
He describes the years thereafter as a hustle, trying his best to get in. It was taxing for him and his family and there were moments when everything seemed so bleak. “I didn’t know what was going to work so I tried everything. I’ll remember those days for what they’ve taught me — they’ll keep me grounded and I’ll value what I’ve been blessed with,” says Ranveer.

Taking the lead
Then, he decided to take a gamble. Despite offers of ads, VJs, music videos, and also lead roles for A-list films, Ranveer decided to wait for that one big offer that he couldn’t say no to. That became his USP – the no recall, blank canvas became attractive to producers. Of course, he is glad he waited it out.

Meanwhile the creative writing job he did helped him improvise his lines and gave him a sense of what works on paper. Working as an assistant director helped him understand the process of filmmaking. “It’s a great vantage point,” says Ranveer. And yet none of it prepared him to face the camera. “It took about two-three days to get used to,” he laughs.

But getting back to advertising or copywriting wasn’t an option. “God has been kind and I got a solo launch by Yash Raj films opposite an already fairly established actor; that was Plan A. Plan B was to act, maybe in a small banner film, or second lead. I knew I’d make it as an actor somehow,” he adds.

The best support
From allowing him to pursue his dreams to everyday things like packing his food and funding his every exercise of trying to make things happen, his mother supported him. “I used to be disheartened and disillusioned. She always stuck by me, encouraging me to reach this far,” says Ranveer.

To aspiring actors, with love
“Be an actor for the love of the craft and not for the frills. Fame and adulation peel you away from real life and people. That’s the beginning of the death of an actor – when you lose touch with the real world and real people. If you like to entertain people and entice emotions in them, then you should go for it. I’ve seen many at Prithvi Theatre or at acting classes who are acting, thinking it’s going to put them on a pedestal. It’s not true.

“Classes suggest ways to approach acting but they can’t teach you to act. Perform for an audience in any way you can.

“Remember, either you’ve got it or you don’t.”

For Ranveer…
A film has to be…commercially succesfull. It’s the barometer for how many people you’ve entertained.

Appreciation…makes me instinctively feel ‘yaar I’ve to work hard’

His favourite place is… Goa… with a plenty of beautiful girls.

His wedding will be… Big, fat and loud. Quick rituals to keep parents happy and then, a big, memorable  once-in-a-life-time party on the beach!

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