|Ranveer Singh at the Taj Bengal poolside. Picture: Rashbehari Das
The Telegraph has been printing some amazing pictures of our shoot,” were the opening words from Ranveer Singh. Dressed in a figure-hugging white tee and faded denims, the Band Baaja Baaraat actor looked relaxed — despite a thick bandage on his injured left foot. Ranveer and the cast and crew of Yash Raj Films’s Gunday had made Calcutta their home, shooting in every nook and corner of the city. Before he flew out on Friday, the 27-year-old “ladies’ man” sprawled himself on a deckchair at the Taj Bengal poolside to chit-chat with t2…
How’s the foot doing?
It’s much better. I should be back to shooting an action sequence in a week’s time. It’s unfortunate that this has happened… we were shooting a song and there was a shard of glass lying on the ground that I didn’t see and it just went right in. I got a few stitches and I can’t put pressure on the foot because of which my movements are restricted. We missed a couple of days of shoot and after that I had to shoot with one leg with a couple of people holding me up (laughs). I remember The Telegraph got those pictures too (smiles).
You also suffered a major injury on the sets of Lootera last year…
Oh yes! That was very, very serious. I know mainstream actors really don’t like talking about their injuries but I am very open about it. During Lootera, I had a lower back protrusion which started off as a niggle and finally gave way on the set itself. I had to be stretchered out of the location on a chopper. I was out of action for three months. It was unfortunate because Lootera had anyway been delayed by massive snowfall in Dalhousie and then my injury happened. I couldn’t even stand then and it was traumatic because I had just started out. I was in bed for months thinking I have to get back and act, dance, fight…. I respect my body a lot… for an actor, the body is a temple, a shop, a product, an instrument… everything. I took my rehab process very seriously and worked extra hard to ensure that I bounced back stronger than before. And it’s helped because both Gunday and Ram Leela (directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and co-starring Deepika Padukone) require a lot of physical work in terms of dance and action.
How has it been shooting for a month in Calcutta for Gunday, after Lootera last year?
For Lootera, we only shot in Mocambo in Calcutta and the major part was shot in Khanyan and Purulia. We would drive three-and-a-half hours each way to Khanyan and back every single day for 40 straight days! It was crazy. The rural bits of Bengal are so beautiful and totally unexplored in mainstream Hindi cinema.
While we shot Lootera in much quieter locations and intimate set-ups on the outskirts, Gunday was a totally different experience because it’s such a boisterous film. I really loved shooting on the ghats in Howrah with thousands of people looking on from the Howrah Bridge. It was very cool shooting on the moving barge on the Hooghly even though I was hobbling around on one foot. It was a huge set-up with so many dancers.
Then we shot at the Dakshineswar temple and it was so hot that day. We danced our hearts out and I absolutely loved Arjun (Kapoor) and me in those heart-printed shirts. I thought it was such a cute look and I wish we could have saved it, but you guys got those pictures too! (Laughs) I am fortunate to have managed to shoot such different films as Lootera and Gunday within the same geographical landscape.
Have you been able to take time out and hit some city nightspots?
It’s a real bummer that Calcutta closes down so early (smiles), but I have liked Mocambo and nightclubs like Shisha and Roxy. I really let my hair down in Shisha this time [on Thursday night] and Roxy when I was here for Lootera.
How much of Ranveer is your character Bikram in Gunday?
Bikram is not only Ranveer… he’s Ranveer with the volume turned up! My character in Lootera is a side of me that only my family and close friends get to see, while Bikram is what Ranveer is to the world… boisterous and loud. It was only Vikram (Vikramaditya Motwane, the director of Lootera) who could tap into the restrained side of me and tell me not to be afraid to show the world this facet of my personality. I am very happy how Lootera has turned out and I am glad I am doing something diametrically opposite as Bikram in Gunday.
Arjun Kapoor and you have been friends for long. How much did that help in this film?
Gunday is the most fun I have ever had on a film set and that’s primarily because of Arjun. That guy has kept me entertained and in splits from morning to night every single day. He’s got an amazing sense of humour. We are both Bombay boys and we have hordes of common friends. The best part of being with him is that he makes me laugh all the time. We also connect on our love for cinema. Also, he’s quite a ladies’ man… (smiles)
… Which you are too!
(Laughs) Well, I haven’t ever denied it. I am a ladies’ man and I enjoy it! Women are so beautiful and I love women… I love attention from women and I love showering them with attention. I was always like this, but no one had identified it earlier. When I came into films, people started telling me: ‘You know, you are a real ladies’ man’, and I was like: ‘You know, I have always been one!’ (Laughs)
Was Priyanka Chopra also one of the boys on set?
(Laughs) No way! Priyanka’s a diva and she bosses everyone around on set and we love getting bossed around by her because we all love her so much. She is the seniormost person on set and she’s a one-take actress… she’s so good. There’s so much to learn from her.
After Lootera in July, you have Ram Leela. How has that character shaped up?
Ram’s a real flamboyant character. Ram’s a hero, yaar! It’s mounted as an epic in the Bhansali mould of huge sets and a colourful canvas. I am completely mesmerised by Mr Bhansali… no one makes films like him and no one treats actors the way he does. He nurtures his actors and makes them act from their hearts and their gut. It’s such a huge thing for an actor like me to hear from a director of his stature that I have enhanced the character that he created. He’s given me so much space and has allowed me to interpret the character my way. I haven’t ever felt as liberated as an actor as I did on the sets of Ram Leela.
Finally, Anushka Sharma to Sonakshi Sinha to Deepika Padukone… you have more link-ups than films!
(Laughs out loud) It’s something that comes with the territory. If you are young, these things will happen and I am okay with it. It really doesn’t bother me, but I do get upset when people make judgements about my character. I am a guy who doesn’t do anything with malice… I try to be nice to everyone around. When people put a spin to something I have said or done and give it a different colour, it gets taxing. It’s tough to live in a fishbowl… but that’s the life I have chosen.