Why he matters: Nobody has understood his intense love for off-screen drama, be it a photoshoot in his birthday suit, or jumping into an unsuspecting audience after a performance of ‘Apna Time Aayega’. Sangeeta Waddhwani revisits her encounters with this self-professed attention lover, a Gucci and music addict with a superlative ability to inhabit a whole spectrum of characters!
Alia Bhatt calls him ‘Tutu,‘ Arjun Kapoor calls him ’Baba,‘ and in school, they called him ‘Atrangi’ for his love of all things flashy (blame it on the Bhavani genes!). Many in B-town call him ’Rambo,‘ and we’re sure many others called him ’Khilji‘ during the making of Padmaavat, so immersed was he in the 50 shades of black of that character.
Ranveer Singh worked in the deep trenches of advertising copywriting, say around age 19, at renowned agencies. A friend who worked with him laughs at how often he’d squander his energy flirting with the women who often brushed him off as an overtly eager-to-please nobody.
“He was known to be a generous lover!” she joked in whispers, while I thought Rambo might be flattered at such a rumour.
Far greater things were in store for Mr. Singh-Bhavnani. The turning point in his life arrived when he delivered a full dialogue from Deewar for his international class at university in the US. Nobody understood a word, but he got a standing ovation. It was then that he negotiated with his father over an acting career. He followed his heart and his dream after returning from the US, and when he finally landed Band Baaja Baaraat, he told me, “I sat in the corridor of the YashRaj office and bawled. I just cried because I had finally broken into the business!”
There are innumerable instances where one has seen Ranveer give a situation more than the 100 percent it requires. So what is it like when he is physically challenged? Or mentally pushed to the limit, to a point most people would break down? In his roles within the Sanjay Leela Bhansali repertoire of films, Ranveer has been vocal about shedding “blood, sweat and tears” in helping the filmmaker arrive at his vision. He ripped a shoulder in a battle scene in Bajirao Mastani, had to undergo surgery.
And in all his interviews, he blessed co-star (and now wife) Deepika Padukone’s warm support right through the ordeal.
I had the privilege of sitting in Ranveer’s energiser bunny aura just after the last shots of Padmaavat. He was joking with everyone at our HELLO! shoot that when shaving off his evil beard, he had mourned. The Khilji in him had also died.
Now imagine the kind of becoming Khilji required! Bhansali had told Ranveer to live all alone in an apartment up in Film City. He wanted Ranveer to watch movies made around grey characters and not to talk to anyone on set “because then my sunny personality would break away from my character. Strictly no no.”
Even while Ranveer shared these tales, the vanity van lights went on and off, and the van started to shake. As though Alauddin Khilji was sitting in on this conversation! It was eerie, but Ranveer was used to these ominous portents, shrugging it off saying, “This happens all the time. He even mentioned once seeing a shadow of Khilji on a wall on set, when they were approaching the last few shots of the movie!
A truly comical reference to Khilji happened at our HELLO! Hall of Fame Awards, when Ranveer, speaking on stage, called Vineet Jain (then Managing Director of the Times Group) the Alauddin Khilji of media! “You own everything! Filmfare, and HELLO! too! And The Times of India!” he had exclaimed.
My most memorable moment interviewing Ranveer was when I flung a close-to-the-bone question at him: “So are you hetero, are you homo, are you bisexual... We are all confused!” He grabbed the table between us, concealing his surprise, and bought time by asking me when the interview would be in print. And then came this immortal quote: “Call me hetero, metro, homo, bisexual... Call me what you want. I’m just supersexual!”
Since then, Ranveer has continued to find new ways to please his attention-loving self. A birthday suit shoot for Paper magazine. A ‘celebrity’ appearance in pyjamas and greasy hair at Twinkle Khanna’s book launch, honouring her book title, Pyjamas Are Forgiving. And a flamboyant lip-synched performance of ‘Apna Time Aayega‘ at Lakmé Fashion Week in 2019, when he fung himself into the audience. What better way to return the love?
The movie biz may be seeing its ups and downs thanks to the OTT invasion, and YashRaj may have terminated its contract with the ‘Gully Boy,’ but the gold will always follow the consummate entertainer because, forget his heart of gold, Baba Ranveer is half a Sindhi at the end of the day!
To see who else is on the list, grab the copy of HELLO! India’s August 2023 issue right here!