Bollywood star, youth icon, fashion icon, entrepreneur and actor. It’s taken Ranveer Singh just over a decade to tick all those boxes and establish himself as an entertainment super brand who promises a maverick surprise, every time he hits the public gaze, on or off the screen.
Ranveer’s success as a celebrity lies in his ability to balance two very different aspects of being a new-age Bollywood star. He is equally at home cutting an impromptu eccentric picture — mostly highlighted by his irreverent sartorial choices for the media glare — as he is while showcasing well-prepared perfection while living his protagonist in films such as “Bajirao-Mastani”, “Padmaavat” and “Gully Boy”.
Ranveer would tell you it is important for him to draw from life’s experiences, in order to take his on-screen roles to the point of authenticity.
“For each different character, one has to tap into one’s own bank of experiences to make the portrayal truthful, visceral and honest. I deeply empathise with the underdog characters that I have played because I have been through a similar journey in my own life,” says the actor.
He finds a special connect with Murad, his character in “Gully Boy”, as well as former Indian cricket captain Kapil Dev in the upcoming “83”. For Ranveer, playing Kapil, who captained an underdog team to India’s first-ever World Cup win in 1983, was about acting out a historic moment of triumph against all odds.
“There is a dialogue in ‘Gully Boy’ that broadly translates from Hindi to, ‘I refuse to change my dreams to match my reality, I will change my reality to match my dreams’. I have felt this sentiment deep down in my soul. When these characters have to prove themselves against all odds, I can relate to that struggle at a very profound level. In ‘Gully Boy’, Murad achieves the impossible. In ’83’, Kapil’s devils achieve the impossible. I can lend truth to these roles because I’ve been there in my own journey. I feel their disillusionment, I feel their anger, their frustration, I feel their grit, all in a very intense way because I’ve been through it myself. I’ve felt it for real,” he asserts.
Ranveer Singh arrived in Bollywood with the 2010 hit “Band Baaja Baaraat”, and by 2013 he had established his credentials as one of Hindi mainstream’s most exciting new-gen stars, playing a modernday ‘desi’ Romeo in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s superhit romantic tragedy “Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela” opposite Deepika Padukone. If Ranveer’s career has only moved upwards since then, he can afford to look back at his struggling years with a note of contentment.
“At different points and in several instances during my struggling years, I felt like there was no hope. Getting one’s foot inside the door of a largely exclusive entertainment industry seemed unachievable. But I persisted. You could say I was both hungry and foolish. More than anything, I believed in my abilities and in my potential,” he recalls.
“Even back then, when I had nothing, the same driven, tenacious and meticulous work ethic was characteristic of my hustle. I was well aware of what a long shot it was. But I was willing to take that leap of faith. When there wasn’t a good lead in sight for long periods, the phone wouldn’t ring for months, my faith was challenged, but I debunked the idea that what I was trying to achieve was impossible. I stayed focused in the most testing of times. I almost forced the universe into making it happen for me,” says the actor.
“My single-mindedness and determination eventually paid off and my dream became my reality. Ever since, every day feels like I am living a dream,” he adds.
A decade later, having established himself firmly on solid tinsel terrain, Ranveer is clear about his biggest learning. “When young actors, especially ‘outsiders’, come up to me seeking advice on how to navigate their hustle, the first and most important thing I tell them is ‘do it for the right reasons’. Do it simply because you love performing. I urge them to not be lured towards performing arts or the entertainment business because success in this field comes with fame and money. Those are transient, they are frills — just trappings. So, I say, ‘be true to your craft and do it for the love of and for the joy of performing’,” says Ranveer.
“Another thing I learned along the way, is that authenticity has the most resonance. If you try being something that you are inherently not, you are doing a disservice to yourself. If you stay true to who you are, if you lose the fear of being judged, only then will you vibrate at a high frequency. ‘You do you’, I tell them. Be original, be your unique self. And another important thing I’ve learned is to keep taking risks. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. You may falter during that process, but I believe that there are no failures in life, there are only lessons,” he adds.
Ranveer acknowledges the importance of getting the right break, and the fact that it can often become the defining factor for success in an unpredictable industry as showbiz, along with passion and hard work.
“One can have the passion and grit and can even prepare endlessly for the moment that one gets to shine. But often, the missing piece of the puzzle is ‘opportunity’. My hustle was as difficult as it was because of the sheer lack of opportunities. That’s what I wanted to create for fellow dreamers. To provide the opportunity to young creators who were burning with passion. To give them a platform to showcase their talent. It is my way of giving back. It is my way of paying forward the blessings I have received. It is my way of showing gratitude to the universe,” concludes Ranveer, who is part of a new campaign for Adidas.