Ranveer Singh Interview Vogue India October 2018 Cover Story

I’m riding in a car with Ranveer Singh. Because Ranveer Singh, in the middle of a jam-packed schedule, is spending Saturday afternoon at a school in suburban Mumbai, hanging out with kids waist-high and above as they pose with their little tricoloured flags in the spirit of Independence Day. “Let’s play some music,” he decides, and someone turns on ‘Chak de India’. OST established, group photos are clicked. Insistent moms and school teachers pull him aside for selfies. And he obliges. Every. Single. Time. As far as celebrities go, Ranveer Singh is a loved one.

The actor who turned star with his debut film, Band Baaja Baaraat (2010), has been building a filmography that oscillates between the quiet, sensitive restraint of a Lootera (2013) and Dil Dhadakne Do (2015) and the larger-than-life, chest-thumping machismo of Bajirao Mastani (2015) and Padmaavat (2018). He’s one who can straddle the gentle pathos of an O Henry drama and the horses, elephants and trumpets of a blockbuster battlefield. Off screen, he’s affable, outgoing, dance-y, spirited and the always-on life of the party—our very own Jack Sparrow (but with a better relationship with soap and water).

“I’m fortunate that it struck me early on in my career what kind of an actor I wanted to evolve into. I realised I’m most enamoured by performers who display a certain versatility in their repertoire, actors who are chameleons. I don’t want to—as far as I can help it—repeat myself,” says Singh, pondering on the criterion that goes into picking his films. “I want to take on roles that are different from anything I have done before, genres that I have not done before. They aren’t always forthcoming; you have to sift through and be patient till you find something that checks all the boxes.”


If it’s variety that he’s looking for, Singh is set to have his most satisfying spell yet. He’s completed shooting for Gully Boy, the Zoya Akhtar-directed film about the underground hip hop scene in Mumbai; Rohit Shetty’s Simmba is on the floors; and he’ll soon start preparing for Kabir Khan’s 83, based on the year of India’s historic World Cup win. “Zoya and I really enjoyed collaborating, and it was almost a given that we would collaborate again because there was so much substance in that give-and-take relationship when she directed me in Dil Dhadakne Do. I see Zoya as a nurturer. She is a dear friend, and one of the finest filmmakers we have. In Dil Dhadakne Do I was part of an ensemble cast, so we wanted to collaborate on something in which I would have a bigger part. So along came Gully Boy. Halfway through the script I knew I was going to do this movie. I can’t say this about every film—but this is one instance where even I couldn’t see anyone else playing the part,” says Singh.

For the actor who grew up with a background score of Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Eminem, Dr Dre, DMX and Snoop Dogg, this was about digging into roots already established. “Zoya pitched this film at a time when I was getting attracted to the Indian hip hop scene, especially the scene in Mumbai. The Bantai lingo is also something I’ve grown up speaking, while playing football and cricket with the guys. So for me the language feels like home. There is such a distinctive flavour of Mumbai in the film.” Then there’s the rap, a skill from Singh’s pre-Bollywood days. “When I was a copywriter, my seniors used to joke that if anyone wanted something written in rhyme they should just come to me. I used to write radio spots in rhyme scheme. I was also a decent-enough rapper. I remember appearing on a television show in my first year where they asked us to perform some side skill—somebody sang, someone played the guitar. I rapped… Gully Boy is the coming together of so many things that are so ‘me’,” he says.


Singh is wearing head-to-toe white today, his Independence Day outfit. Some days he wears hexagonal sunglasses and suits imprinted with posters of Ram Lakhan and turns up at award shows looking like Cruella de Vil. On other days he dresses like J Crew Guy with a bit of a post-apocalyptic vibe. Clothes pique his interest, and his clothes pique ours. He was the kid who wore a mohawk (there’s a very popular picture on his Instagram as proof), had his ears pierced in third grade, wore baggy jeans before they became a thing, was a patron of sports jerseys, silver jewellery and hair gel … “Always hipster, always ahead of the curve,” he recalls.

Then Bollywood gave it pause. “Band Baaja Baaraat was an overnight success. On Friday I was a nobody and by Monday I was famous. I didn’t know how to deal with being in the limelight. Fame hit me like a truck, so I got into the business of wanting everyone’s approval, and that translated into my style as well. So I started conforming, wore things that I thought a conventional mainstream leading man in Hindi films was supposed to wear.”

Three years later, while shooting Vikramaditya Motwane’s Lootera, an accident on set confined him to bed with a severe back injury. “Doctors warned that if I wasn’t careful I may not be able to fight or dance again. That experience changed me in a way that I came out of it more evolved. I understood the fragility of life a little more. All of a sudden it looked like my career and films would slip out of my hands. So I started expressing myself, over a period of time, without filter, without the fear of being judged… There are two sides to me, my sensibilities have a dichotomy. I’m as much a minimalist as a maximalist. My moods are mercurial, ever changing. One day I feel like wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans, on another day I feel like multicoloured florals head to toe.” He compares his flamboyant sartorial reputation to the Goalkeeper Syndrome, where one exception can overshadow a dozen heroic saves.

Read the complete interview in Vogue India’s October 2018 issue that hits stands on October 8, 2018



Photographed by: Greg Swales. Styled by: Anaita Shroff Adajania

On Ranveer: Tunic, lehenga, belt; all Sabyasachi. On Sara: Bra, jacket, lehenga, belt; all Sabyasachi. Rings, bangles; all Sabyasachi Jewelry.

Model: Sara Sampaio/ The Lions. Hair: Halley Brisker/ The Wall Group. Makeup: Niki M’nray. Production: Divya Jagwani; MAD Productions. Photographer’s assistants:  JJay Johnson; Shane Ryan. Assistant stylist: Fabio Immediato. Hair assistant: James Alfie Parr/ The Wall Group. Production assistants: Ania Piec; Janina Mistecky

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