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Chef Ranveer Brar on essaying a gay character in Modern Love Mumbai: ‘After shooting intimate scenes, it became a cakewalk’

Pride Month 2022: "In my first restaurant in the US, we had 18 members from the LGBTQ+ community," Ranveer revealed

Ranveer BrarRanveer featured alongside actor Pratik Gandhi (Source: Ranveer Brar/Instagram)

Chef Ranveer Brar is a name to reckon with in the food industry. He has, time and again, won us all over with his scrumptious food and warm personality. And now, Ranveer “broke a barrier” for himself as he made his acting debut in Modern Love Mumbai‘s episode ‘Baai‘ — featuring a love story between two gay men who are torn between their love for each other and societal acceptance.

But, did you know that Ranveer didn’t want to act initially? “I always felt I could direct better. I am a very sensitive guy and felt my character would leave a dent on me. But, I have realised it actually makes you richer,” he said, as he opened up about essaying a gay character, experimenting with acting, camaraderie with co-star Pratik Gandhi, being an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, food, and more, in an exclusive interaction with indianexpress.com.

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You made your acting debut with Modern Love Mumbai recently. How was the experience?

There was some initial discomfort because I was so used to being ‘Ranveer’ in front of the camera. I had to get over that because I had to be somebody else in front of the camera, and yet be able to be myself. After that, thanks to the people I worked with, it became very easy.

You essayed the role of a gay man ‘Rajveer’ in the episode. Was it challenging in any way?

It wasn’t actually. When I chose to become a chef in 1990, in our generation, it was a very unconventional choice that I made against the grain. This just seemed to be another such choice. I am used to making unconventional choices and that’s why I didn’t feel awkward. Yes, there was an initial bit of discomfort which I handled before signing. After I had given the nod, I just pushed myself into it and didn’t feel uncomfortable.

The episode also features some intimate scenes with Pratik Gandhi. How did you prepare for it?

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I think Hansal Mehta played smartly and shot all the intimate scenes on day one. So, on the first day, we were done with all the strong, intimate scenes. After you are done with them, it opens you up and it’s just a cakewalk thereon. It also makes you immediately comfortable around your co-star. We didn’t have any intimacy coordinator. I think that’s because Manzu’s (Pratik Gandhi’s) character was very closed and he was still accepting his sexuality and its physicality. That became easy because the awkwardness that you see was all-natural because Manzu didn’t know how to kiss that well. We didn’t have to make it all suave because the character has that inbuilt awkwardness — which is a reflection of his struggles to accept himself and society’s reaction to it.

What attracted you to the character of Rajveer that you took up this role?

More than the character of Rajveer, it was the storyline of how purely love was interpreted. Manzu is a typical example of how we look at the issue in India. To me, it seemed to be a story that is relevant, appealing and touching upon the topic of homosexuality very, very sensitively.

Was this a way for you to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community?

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Oh, absolutely! We talk about love beyond boundaries and love beyond cultures. But, the LGBTQ+ community has always said, ‘Love is Love’. They have been saying it forever and it’s just that we are realising it now because it is coming to us in more ways than one. So yes, I completely stand in solidarity and I completely endorse the emotion of ‘Love is Love’.

Did you spend time with someone from the LGBTQ+ community to better understand them, before essaying this character?

In my first restaurant in the US, we had 18 members from the LGBTQ+ community. From my manager and bartender to my general manager and servers — all belonged to the community. I lived with them for two and a half years, so you couldn’t have had a better preparation. I felt I knew where they were coming from and I think that’s what’s most important to know — where your character is coming from.

How was it working with Pratik Gandhi?

I was very comfortable with him. We’ve known each other before. The two of us connect because of our similar stories and the struggles before we came on the screen. We have similar families – our kids are the same age, and we are of the same age. We are two small-town kids who grew up in Mumbai. Our basic value systems aligned pretty well.

You are also a chef in the episode. Was it easy to portray the character of the chef onscreen?

People talk about method acting so, in that case, I have been doing that for 25 years. But, now when I look at it, it was the most challenging part which I believe I should have spent more time on. Because this is how Ranveer would look at food but how would Rajveer look at it? And when I am in the kitchen and when I am around food, then Ranveer automatically pops out. That’s because I have been around food and camera so much. I felt I performed better, as an actor, in scenes where there was no food.

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We saw you cooking a range of dishes in the episode. Did you actually cook on set too?

All the time! I may have cooked more than 50 kilos of mutton. All the food that you see on the show is cooked by me. There was a joke on the set that Hansal sir just wanted my Nihari recipe and that’s why he casted me in the show.

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How did people react towards your character and the show?

It has been overwhelming! I think it was for all of us to see. People of all age groups have come up to me and endorsed what we have done. This, I believe, in the bigger sense is an endorsement of what we were trying to say through the show. When a 75-year-old gentleman and his wife met me at an airport and talked about Modern Love, they are not talking about my acting but the fact that, at their age, they accepted the message that we had.

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First published on: 20-06-2022 at 12:30:40 pm
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