Joker on the throne

He may or may not be the next superstar, but one thing is very clear: Ranveer Singh is having the last laugh. The joker is seated on a throne that is reserved for “people like Hrithik Roshan, Abhishek Bachchan, Zayed Khan — everyone who had some kind of lineage.” What’s more, he’s got the Bollywood’s reigning queen by his side. Of course, he laughs the loudest. And Ranveer Singh being Ranveer Singh, he feels no shame whatsoever to throw in a Khilji guffaw if it means the limelight will stay put on him for a flick longer, make no mistake about that.

Method actor

Here’s the thing though. One may or may not buy his almost maniac-like antics – or the way beyond bizarre sartorial choices. But there’s no way one could grudge him his well-earned success. It is not so hard to see that every inch of that path to success Singh paved himself. You just have to watch his films to know how committed he is to his characters. He has proved that he will go to any extent to nail the character. In an interview to Man’s World, which, incidentally, called him the greatest method actor of this generation, Singh says, “As part of my preparation and homework, I would study such people in history to relate to the world view of Khilji. I had to understand and convince myself that there were people like them, and draw from it to infuse life into the character. I buried into the deep, dark recesses of my life and memories, which I had brushed under the carpet and were buried in my conscience. I have confronted those demons and used them in my performance.” To cement their case, Man’s world pointed out how for Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela, he got the Gujarati accent spot on and for Bajirao, how he went into a 21-day isolation to prepare for his role. For Lootera, apparently, he hurt himself physically to show the pain of a bullet wound on his face.

But it is also true that Singh is mighty lucky that effervescence – and playing to the gallery – comes naturally to him. So natural that much of the attention goes into that overwhelming over-the-top act that he puts on for the public, that it is easy to overlook the fact that Singh has that rare quality of truly successful people – one will not find truly successful people being apologetic of their larger-than-life ambitions. And truly successful people also tend to embrace themselves completely – warts and all – so that they can transform what’s limiting them into something that liberates them. So it is with Singh.

In what could be called a definitive profile of the star, The Caravan has Taran N Khan, following Singh through his promotional spree for Bajirao Mastani. In his piece, Khan records the star’s interaction with people, including media. The awe that Singh inspires, Khan ticks off earlier, for it is the most obvious. But the subtle layers are peeled off gently as the writer tries to pin down the actor. What you take home, especially in hindsight, is that Singh has embraced himself so completely that he is, as the author sums up somewhere along his observations, “ready to bend, if not rewrite, the rules.”

Case for arrogance

So when a journo asks him what he reads, Singh does not indulge him – or his ego – with a “smart” list that anyone could get with a couple of minutes online. Instead, he admits the truth that he doesn’t read and that he actually was listening to motivational audio books when he sustained a shoulder injury sustained while making Bajirao Mastani. Wait, aren’t motivational (audio) books for losers? Look at the gall, not only does he not read, but he even listens to things to motivate himself like a loser. And he has no problem if the world knows it. On one hand, this could be a case for arrogance. But on the other, it could be elusive something that often shapes a star. Despite being a non-entity in an industry that insists on a calling card detailing the lineage, it is clear that Singh is so convinced of his overwhelming star ability, he feels confident to let the public know his quirks. He knows his stardom can override them. It is this confidence that caught Aditya Chopra’s attention, who knew he spotted a winner when Singh was a nobody. The same confidence that not only catch Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s attention but actually has him so convinced after watching his Delhi dude routine in Band Bajaa Bharat, that he made Singh his muse, his male archetype on which he hangs his larger than life ambitions. And that confidence is not going anywhere, Khilji made sure of that.

Jemima Raman