Ranveer singh hopes Khan — the first choice for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani — does just that!
Ranveer Singh loves to hug it out. Anyone who has met the actor can tell that he prefers to let his actions talk louder than words. So it was no surprise when the Bajirao Mastani lead was busy hugging it out, taking selfies with fans, and rubbing off that electric energy on everyone in his vicinity. With the biggest release of his career, Bajirao Mastani days away from release, I spoke to him about his fear of having a film the same day as Shah Rukh Khan, the criticism from the Peshwa family on his casting and more. Read excerpts from the chat...
When you planned on becoming an actor, did you ever imagine one day you would have a release with Shah Rukh Khan, is there a sense of achievement?
I didn’t want it to happen. I am connected to my producers and for their sake, I was hoping that we get a solo release, but if the situation is unavoidable, so be it. None of it is in my hands. What is in my hands is my performance and I have tried to do justice to the best of my ability. But when you have a film that is coming out the same day, comparisons are drawn. I don’t feel that any kind of comparison is even possible or valid because I have done five years of work and he has done 25 years of work. What is happening with me in my life is that it is not just this aspect, it’s also the kind of people I am working with, when I see myself on hoardings, TV and all that. I could have never imagined all this happening to me. I was hoping to get a good break, but to be the first solo hero ever to be launched by Yash Raj Films who previously only worked with stars? Who’d have thought that? I was the first solo hero to be launched in their 35-year history. What was happening on Monday post the release of Band Baaja Baaraat was beyond my imagination. I think at that point in my career, it was one Monday when I opened my inbox and the first five names who had sent me messages were the most prominent people of the industry.
Nervous about the clash ?
Nervous would not be my choice of word. I was feeling bad for my team, people have put in so much money, they need to recover so much money as it is one of the biggest budget films ever, so you want a solo release for it, so I was feeling bad for them but I was very confident with what we had made. The material itself is so strong. At the helm you have perhaps the finest filmmaker of Hindi cinema and his team which feeds off of his passion and not just me but all the co-actors, choreographers cinematographer, costume designer, everybody in the team have put their best foot forward. I was very confident that we are making it and it would at least be a good film. Whether it will go on to become hit, whether it will go on to become a lifelong classic that is of course the hope. We all hope and pray that it will. But we knew we were sitting on something good. So I wouldn’t say nervous, but just that I was feeling bad for our producers. I was not nervous, why would I be nervous? I would be nervous if I was really concerned with the commercial aspect, which I don’t concern myself with because I have very little understanding of it. I am not one of those people who ask, “Friday ko opening kitni thi.” I am one of those people who ask, “Picture kaisi lagi?” So, my area of concern is very very different. The only time when I actually think about Dilwale or the fact that it is releasing on the same day, is when I am asked about it.
Given the fact that Bajirao was offered to others, do you think you were the best choice for the part ?
I think each film has its own destiny, every character has its own destiny. I can’t comment whether I was the best choice and I think it is a question that Mr Bhansali should answer. But I put my best foot forward and from what he tells me and what I hear from his close confidants, is that he is very happy with my performance and that is really what’s most important to me. I really don’t concern myself with the baggage that the film or character comes with. I treat it as a fresh piece and in my experience, once the film is made and is out, the baggage that it comes with in the pre-production stage, really becomes irrelevant.
You recently met Salman in Bigg Boss, so did this come up, as he was the first choice to play Bajirao?
Yes, he said it a couple of times in jest on stage, but he is always the one to make jokes. He is very mischievous in that sense. He said it, but he said it in jest. I will add that I really hope he watches the movie and I really hope he likes my performance and I hope I get some kind of message from him that you did a good job buddy. I really hope that as I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and I hope that he gives me a pat on the back.
What was the most challenging aspect of playing Peshwa Bajirao? Was it more physical or emotional?
Oh not just physical! Physical was just the first quarter of the day. I would wake up early in the morning and go to the gym and I would work on that physicality that I would need for a warrior’s toughness. Then I would work all throughout the afternoon on the accent and then in the evening, when my trainer had gone and my accent coach had gone, it would just be me and the material. Changing my voice, changing my stance, new way of sitting, standing, the posture, just working on various aspects, which in summation would create something distinctively different from my own person that when you see it, whatever is chapoed (printed) on screen, you should not be able to trace Ranveer. You should only be seeing Peshwa Bajirao, that’s something I have observed in great performers like Daniel Day-Lewis who I believe to be the paragon of acting. You see him in one film and you see his next film, you cannot believe it is the same person. That was something I was aiming for, which took a lot of work. I had only 21 days but I made the most of it. So it was early morning to late night. Whatever I could do to completely change my being, to kind of sit with the material, understand the man, understand his temperament, put myself in make-belief situations as Peshwa Bajirao and understand how he would perhaps react as opposed to me. So to get deep into the mindset of a man and all your cues are available in the script, that is what they taught us in text analysis in theatre, that all that you need to know about your character is there between those covers. You have to read the lines, read between the lines, see what other people have to say about these people in the course of the script and just marinate in the character in 21 days and present it to Mr Bhansali and see if he likes it or not. He loved it.
Recently members of the Peshwa family said you were a miscast for the role...
I think they are just jumping the gun and they should see the film first. I think they should wait and see the film. We dealt with this during the time of Ram Leela, so we are not alien to this kind of protest at the 11th hour. But, Mr Bhansali has always maintained that it is a work of fiction and it is the interpretation of Peshwa Gharanyacha Itihaas (history of the Peshwa family). So, I really believe that at least wait for the film to come out and of course, like we always intended to but now we have to come out in the open and actually say it, we were always going to include a slate at the head of the film that all the characters in the film are fictitious and any resemblance to any person born, dead or alive is mere coincidental. We had to actually come out and say it, but it was always going to happen. But yeah, I guess they are jumping the gun and they should really wait for the film to release.
Is it true that Sanjay was upset with your fashion choices for the promotions of the film?
No, Mr Bhansali doesn’t interfere in my personal choices. That’s a lie!. No, really he doesn’t.
Box-office success, a 5 star review or a SMS from Sanjay Bhansali, what will matter the most to you on December 18 ?
Hands down, Sanjay sir sending me a message!
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