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RANVEER LEARNS FROM DEEPIKA

He earned rave reviews for his turn as a conman with a conscience in Lootera. Come November 15, Ranveer Singh has a biggie in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Ram Leela, co-starring rumoured girlfriend Deepika Padukone. A t2 chat with the Singh who wants to be king.

You’ve just wrapped up Ram Leela. What’s been the experience with this lavish film helmed by a lavish filmmaker like Sanjay Leela Bhansali?

It’s definitely been a one-of-a-kind film. You are very right in saying that he’s a lavish filmmaker. His films are opulent… he loves to show grandeur. He makes his characters larger-than-life. I love that about his movies.... I hope I live up to all of this and justify the scale of the film with my performance. The trailer is going to be out soon and I am excited about that. What Mr Bhansali has been able to bring out of me is raw, naked, visceral emotions which only he can because he’s so perceptive of emotions and so sensitive towards his actors. I feel very lucky to have got the opportunity to work with him at such an early stage of my career.

You apparently took just a few minutes to say ‘yes’ to the film?

I got a call one day and was told that Mr Bhansali wanted to meet me. I was so excited that I moved around all my meetings and went that very day to meet him. I was already half sold when he said he wanted to offer me the role of the lead in his next film, because I have been such a fan of all his movies. Ten minutes into the narration, I was like: ‘Okay, I am definitely going to do this.’ From then on, it just got better and better and by the end of the narration, I was like: ‘Man, I can’t wait to do this’. It’s very rare that an actor’s persona and that of the character he plays are so similar. It’s led to a special performance that I hope will translate to the audience.

Is this the classic Romeo and Juliet story or has it been given a twist?

It’s Mr Bhansali’s take on Romeo and Juliet. It’s broadly Romeo and Juliet and the larger tropes are all similar, but Mr Bhansali puts so much of his original style into his films that you always feel it’s something you’ve never seen before. He wants to create new worlds when he makes his films.

So has this been your most challenging role or was that Lootera as Varun was completely opposite to your personality?

Well, Lootera was challenging, definitely. I am a very open person and to play someone with inhibitions was tough. It was difficult for me to grasp the essence of Varun. But it got rave reviews and I am very, very happy.... Ram Leela is a very massy, mainstream and entertaining film and I am more at home here. Here I can do melodrama, lip-sync, song ’’ dance, comedy, romance… intense romance… cute romance. Ram is a very garrulous character, someone who has lots and lots of dialogues. So yes, I am playing on home territory here and all my strong points as an actor will be showcased here.

Was there any particular day on the sets of Ram Leela that really challenged you as an actor?

Well, there was one day when I knew I had done well and everyone felt like I had done well. It was a very crucial scene that could have been historic. I did well enough but I knew that it could have been better. We had to shoot in the same space the next day and Mr Bhansali gave me another crack at the scene. I did it again and I would like to believe that we achieved the kind of movie magic that one hopes for when they go on to the set.

Is Sanjay Leela Bhansali a hard taskmaster?

He’s a darling! He treats his actors as if they are infants. He’ll always be fiercely protective of the mood of his actors… he will support you and nurture you. But it’s not that he doesn’t throw you a challenge. He will put you in a spot and then help you in every way to do your best… he’ll be a mothering tiger! And I think I do my best when my back is against the wall.

This is your first film with Deepika Padukone. You are known to be close off-screen, but how was she as a co-star?

She’s a little bit more experienced than I am and there were many things I got to learn from her. I learnt how to multi-task from her. She’s a very easy and effortless performer. She’s also very professional. I think one of my best working experiences so far on a film set has been with Deepika.

Whenever Ram Leela has been in the news so far, it’s been because of the Ranveer-Deepika link-up. Does that bother you?

What you are referring to has been printed mostly in the tabloids. I don’t care much for them… I don’t pay any attention to them. It doesn’t get to me at all. But yes, talking more about the film would really be nicer.

But when such things happen, does it spoil the equation between two co-stars?

It hasn’t between me and Deepika. We are very mature and know better than letting what is written in the gossip columns interfere with our inter-personal equation.

Finally, you’ve had a good year so far with Lootera. But will Ram Leela be a game-changer for you?

It’s definitely the biggest film of my career. It’s a high-budget film. It’s been made on a certain scale and I got to work with a director who’s known to work with only the best actors. So yes, there is a lot of anticipation. I have done my best and I hope I am as good as the film.