Ranveer Singh: The new heart-throb

Ranveer
The awards are pouring in. The box-office numbers are in his favour. As Band Baaja Baaraat's Bittoo Sharma, newbie Ranveer Singh has won hearts everywhere. Industry pundits are hailing the Bandra boy as the new star in the making. As he gears up for his next, Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl, we get chatting with the latest sensation in town.

Can you recall when you first felt like a star?
I still don't feel like a star. The only time I feel like a star is when I defeat my friends in FIFA XI Supremacy. I've been losing badly at the game, so actually these days I feel anything but a star.

So you're a football fan. Name your favourite team/club?
Arsenal all the way. I'm a big supporter.

Back to the question: you don't think you are a star?
I equate feeling like a star to success going to my head. I don't want to get into that trap. Success, as I see it, is very relative. In the larger scheme of my life, the fact that my first film (Band Baaja Baaraat) clicked is a small success… it's a good beginning but I still have a long way to go to achieve many more goals. That is the reason why I've kept all the award trophies that I've won away from me. I haven't kept them in my room. I don't see them everyday because I feel all this might make me complacent.

But did you think it will become so huge? What feedback did you get after the first promo of Band Baaja Baaraat?
I was instantly written off. The promos were not received well. Everybody was like, "This is the new YRF boy? They are launching this boy?" The poster was written off too.

But it picked momentum once the Ainwayi song promo came on air.
Yes, Ainwayi was an attraction but people still didn't give the film a chance. So many people said accha gaana waste kar diya iss ladke ki picture mein. Our movie opened horribly, with just 10 per cent opening but then the word of mouth kicked in and on Saturday the opening doubled. Band Baaja Baaraat proved to be a good underdog film. In that vein, our film's graph is similar to Jab We Met. We too made a desi romcom with real, rooted characters that connected with the audience in a big way. Eventually just like Jab We Met, our movie also became a special film.

Your character Bittoo Sharma clicked big time. For a Bandra boy you did a good job as a Delhi guy. How much of Bittoo is you?
It's an act. I've 200 people inside me wanting to come out. Bittoo was one of them. Bittoo is a boy-man who is clueless about love but the colourful jhalla is me, so in a way, there is a bit of me in Bittoo. There's also an unpleasant side to the boy-man in me that you'll hopefully get to see in my next few films.

So what's the roadmap looking like now?
Oh, I'm scared. Now the constant thought is what to do next. I think we created a monster with Band Baaja Baaraat so we have to be responsible to make sure that whatever we do next is appreciated in the same way. Now, it all comes down to choices and a bit of luck. Everything will depend on the decisions that I take.

Oh yes, the second film-litmus-test phenomena. That's when the audience really gets to know the actor.
Exactly. Now at every level it's about taking a decision. Which films should I sign? How should I play this scene? Earlier I had nothing in my life to address, I had nothing to lose, but now there's a career at stake and expectations to be met. The pressure is on.

So how are you going about choosing films? If reports are to be believed, you are being inundated with offers. Feel like a kid in the chocolate factory?
(Laughs) Well, let me say that I'm being offered some good stuff but that's just half the battle won. I still have to sing for my supper. I'm not getting anything on a platter, I still have to work for it. I like it this way. I like to be in the zone where I get to read for a part, audition for a role and then bag it on merit. Sure, I do get the calls where I'm told, "We'll give you whatever you want, any role you want to do, we'll shoot in a foreign location, you'll breeze through the role, you don't have to do much, just come and do your thing" but I'm wary of these offers. I don't ever want to do a role where I don't see any creative merit. I'm an artiste first. I don't want to let the business take over the art and craft. I'm sticking to the good director-good script model. If I get that combination then I'll sign it, like Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl about which I'm absolutely kicked.

Like all new actors do you also have a wish-list of directors with whom you want to work?
I made my wish-list after Band Baaja Baaraat. You can't plan certain things. If things are meant to be then they happen. Like on my 23rd birthday, my sister had planned a party for me, she decorated my room with YRF film posters. I remember blowing out the candles on my birthday cake wishing that one day my face should really be on an YRF poster. It happened! Hopefully I'll get down to my wish-list too.

What's the best acting advice someone's given you?
"Use cold cream," is by far the best advice given to me. Boman Irani told me that. We were having an intense conversation about acting — how the lines sometimes get blurred between the character and the actor — so Boman told me what his I'm Not Bajirao co-actor Sudhir Joshi told him: "When you get off the stage, wipe your face with cold cream, look at the mirror and find yourself." I hope to abide by this advice. It's so important for an actor to be in touch with the real world and real people. I still use trains and buses. I want to stay connected to real life. It's important for an actor to research his roles. Only by talking to real people do you get an idea how to make it real. At the end of the day, when I retire I will have a DVD collection of my films. I want to take pride in it and be happy with the collection. So I want to stay real.

So let's talk about Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl. What got you hooked?
Any actor will give his arm and leg to play Ricky Bahl. There are various avatars to Ricky, it's like playing multiple characters in one film. I have starkly different looks. There's a chirpy, entertaining side to him as well as a sinister side. There's a lot of meat in the character and I'm on my toes prepping for it. A crew member who read the script described it accurately when he said "it's a 'kicky' film." Now I know there is no word like 'kicky' but when you see the film you'll know what it means. It's a 'romcom' and as of now it stars Anushka Sharma, Parineeti Chopra, Dipannita Sharma and me.

You team up once again with your Band Baaja Baaraat director Maneesh Sharma for Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl. What is Maneesh's special quality as a director?
Maneesh is a born storyteller. He's effortless. He's wired to tell stories.

Ok, so can you confirm if you're doing Rajkumar Hirani's next film?
I wish this rumour was true. I really hope to work with him. His films are all heart and he's been so supportive of my work in my debut film. I'd give my arm and leg to work with him.

What's the deal with your last name? Are you Ranveer Singh or Ranveer Bhavnani?
My last name is Bhavnani, but I dropped it years ago. If I had to take my full name then it would be after my father, Jagjit Singh Ranveer Singh Bhavnani which would be quite a mouthful.

Name your top five favourite roles.
Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver), Tony Montana (Scarface), Michael Corleone (Godfather 2), Sam Dawson (I Am Sam) and any biopic, because I think real characters are the real deal.

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