With three major films Lootera,Ram Leela and Gunday up for release,are you happy with the way your career’s shaped up?
I think so. Lootera is poetic,Ram Leela is intense with mainstream sensibilities,while Gunday is a complete masala entertainer. I am in a position today where I don’t have to go asking for work. Also,I have progressed as an actor. There is no complacency,but a lot of comfort. I am putty in the hands of my directors and that has worked for me. Working with different directors has made me realise the various ways of making a film. I have realised that I can submit myself completely to someone I have faith in.
When you first came into the industry,your directors and co-stars often said that you obsessed over each scene in the film. Do you still do that?
(Laughs) I used to have sleepless nights then. But I have changed over time. I still have the same value for the scenes,but I am calmer. I remember when we were shooting for Band Baaja Baaraat (BBB),Anushka (Sharma) used to often tell me to relax. She used to say,It is going to be shot tomorrow and it will remain forever. But your getting stressed isn’t going to make it any better or worse. I did not understand it then,but over time,I understood what she was trying to explain.
How does this reflect in your performance?
I have found my groove and have started enjoying the process. In my recent films,Sonakshi (Sinha) and Deepika (Padukone) taught me the same thing I learned from Anushka they taught me to control my energy and use it only when needed. I feel I am in good form now. For me,the greatest time is between a director saying action and cut.
Did you have a back-up plan had Band Baaja Baaraat not worked?
I never thought it wouldn’t work. But had it not worked,I know I would have still got work,just not prime opportunities like these. Today I am working with a Vikramaditya Motwane,a Sanjay Leela Bhansali and a massively budgeted Yash Raj film. I owe these to the success of BBB.
After BBB made you an overnight star,was the average showing of Ladies vs Ricky Bahl disheartening?
Ladies vs Ricky Bahl made good money,but BBB became a cult film. The main purpose of Ricky Bahl was to project me as a sex symbol. A shirtless sequence was designed; I was given an introduction song. With BBB,I reached out to a mass audience,with Ricky Bahl,girls thought I am sexy.
You lost a lot of time when you had a back injury during the shoot of Lootera. Was it a major setback?
Yes,it was. I am an actor and my body is my instrument. For someone who had just started his career,I had no choice but to bounce back. I had to make myself so fit that I wouldn’t fall ill again. I focussed completely on my health and fitness for three months. I did physiotherapy,then graduated to stretching and swimming. Now I do functional training and wall climbing. I am fitter than ever before.
You seem to be very accident-prone nonetheless. There was news of you again getting injured on the sets of Ram Leela…
I was never so. But ever since I began shooting,I don’t go a day without bruising or hurting myself. I think,after coming into the public eye,mujhe nazar lag gayi hai!
Are you doing anything to ward off the evil eye?
I asked my naani (maternal grandmother) to ward it off for me. She did the entire ritual with chillies and salt and tied the black thread around my wrist. But that too fell off.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali is known to be a tough task master. Was working on Ram Leela gruelling?
Working with Mr Bhansali is liberating. When I worked with Maneesh (Sharma) in my first two films,we would do workshops and rehearsals and then come on set and give the shot. With Mr Bhansali you are learning with every scene. There is constant improvisation.
What about Vikramaditya Motwane’s approach to filmmaking?
I consider Vikramaditya a cut above all directors. He doesnt fall for the trappings of the audience. He lets you connect the dots,to simplify. Lootera is delicate and fragile,poetic and lyrical. Mr Bhansali,Vikramadityas mentor,has all these qualities,but on a mainstream pitch,on a louder volume.
So far you have been part of solo hero projects. How was it teaming up with Arjun Kapoor for Gunday?
Arjun is a great guy. We hit it off from day one. When he saw the teaser of Lootera,he started imitating the way I talk in the film. He would come to me and softly say,Ranveer,aaj kaun sa workout karna hai? Chest karein ya legs (what workout should we do today,chest or legs)? And I would burst out laughing. He knew I am very unlike my character in real life.
While your professional life is going great guns,why are you always in the news over alleged fights and fallouts?
I don’t know. I have really been misunderstood and misinterpreted. I have never done or said anything to anybody with any kind of malice.
Why are you called brash and arrogant then?
Serious is not my favourite type of mood. Maybe,this happened because I started talking to everyone,like I was talking to a close friend in my living room. But it is not the same. Everyone is not your friend. There is a certain way one speaks in private and on a public platform.
Have you changed the way you conduct yourself in public?
Definitely. I have become less talkative. I have now started to understand what it means to be a public figure. I have understood that there are people who are constantly looking to attack you and you shouldn’t give your detractors a chance to say or write bad things about you. I have learned not to be outspoken and frank. I am not a loose cannon anymore. I have grown up a little bit.
Are you enjoying it?
Not really. I don’t like being mature and responsible. I like to do my own thing. I like being fancy-free,but there are responsibilities,towards the industry,towards your fans and towards those who look up to you.
You have been linked with every actress you have worked with…
(Smiles) As long as I am working with them,I will be written about. This is a part and parcel of being an actor. We all go through it.
What about Deepika Padukone?
She is a great co-star,sweet and hardworking. We get along well. I am having a good time working with her on Ram Leela.
Who are your closest friends in the industry?
Shanoo Sharma,(casting director,Yash Raj Films) and Shaad Ali (director). Two of my closest buddies are Nawzar Irani and Karan Kapadia,both budding directors.
Who is your biggest competitor in the industry?
I see cinema as art and actors as artists. If I had to compete,I would be a sportsman.
You have often rubbished the star system in Bollywood. Are you more accepting of it now?
I believe the story being told in a film is bigger than any star. My definition of a star is someone who spreads love and joy and creates happiness. The other definition of a star is someone who is excellent at their work.