BM: An experience!

The shooting experience reflects the kind of film it is and even my behaviour is impacted. So, the ADs on Dil Dhadkane Do will tell you that I am so much fun to be around, but the ADs on Bajirao Mastani will be, like, ‘He is a terror.’ So, yes, different films, different approaches but the one constant is that you put your best foot forward, every single time.

BOI: Call it a coincidence but you are clashing with Shah Rukh Khan this year end and will be replacing him in an Aditya Chopra movie early next year…

RS: (Cuts in) As far as I know, I was the only choice for Befikre and I am not replacing anyone.

BOI: No, not replacing, as he has only worked with Shah Rukh, so far, in that sense.

RS: Oh, yes, it is cool. It is a great privilege and an honour for me. In fact, it is a matter of pride that my mentor chose me to be in his movie and I am the only actor besides the mega star with whom he has worked. So, it is a matter of great pride that he believes in my ability to do justice to the character. He explained to me why he was so comfortable working with Mr Khan. He used to tell me that he (SRK) is just amazing, he is almost like a computer. ‘All I have to do is press something and it gets done.’ That is the kind of brilliance with which he delivers for his directors.

He used to draw from his shooting experiences with Mr Khan to teach me what I could learn from him. If you can be like this with each of your directors, then they will not want to work with anybody else. He often used his example to teach me more about how to better myself.

BOI: Deepika, as an actor, we assume it was easy for you to relate to the character in Piku or even in Tamasha as they are about modern young women, just like you. What did you draw on to essay the role of this personality from history?

DP: It is a period film but as a woman, I find her (Mastani) very relevant today. Her story, her courage is very relevant. I believe there is a Mastani in every woman because she has to multi-task. She was a warrior princess, and women today are faced with so many difficulties. They may not be in an actual battlefield but they are confronted by challenges that require the same kind of willpower, strength and fearlessness to overcome these situations.

Mastani stood for what she believed was right, she stood up against the system because she believed she was correct. And she had so much faith in herself, in her love and in everything that she did and at the same time she was extremely emotional, extremely vulnerable, very fragile and delicate, which I believe are the qualities that every woman of today has. So it may be a period film but I am certain that women will identify with Mastani and most definitely be inspired by her journey.

BOI: Ranveer, as you said, this film was very different for you. Did it take time for you to emerge from your character after you finished shooting?

RS: I am still not out of it! No, I am just kidding. Since I had invested so much in this movie, that by the time we got around to completing the shoot in October, I was waiting to exhale. I was waitng to emerge from my character as I had lived the role for long enough and gone deep into it. Also, we shot the climax at the very end and then we shot for the song Malhari, which is a celebratory song.

It was great that we kept the climax for the end because that is when things rise to a crescendo, like in any piece of art. Now that it is done, it is time to celebrate. So we shot the celebratory song and it was a great note to end the shoot on. For me, the process itself was the prize. Whatever transpires on December 18 and after that will be a bonus for me. I already have my prize.

BOI: Deepika, do you easily snap out of roles or do they linger?

DP: They linger. Whether you like it or not, they linger, and very often it takes another film to help you snap out of the earlier role, or sometimes a very long break.

RS: A long holiday (Laughs).

DP: Yeah! It doesn’t leave your system for a while.

RS: Yes. I am changed for life. After playing Peshwa Bajirao, my whole personality has changed, but in a good way. I have learnt a lot from the character. He is a very, very inspiring man. Mard! (Laughs)

BOI: Ranveer, as an actor, how have you evolved?

RS: Well, I have learnt the depths I can go to, to tap into my energy reserves, emotional reserves and physical reserves. Let’s put it this way, now I am a rubberband and I know how far I can stretch.

BOI: Deepika, what has 2015 been like for you, having done Piku, Tamasha and now Bajirao Mastani?

DP: What more could I ask for!

BOI: Well, you have had many good years, it’s been four years now!

DP: It’s overwhelming. Before the films released, I was like, ‘Oh God! Why are all of these releasing in the same year?’ But when you get feedback and see how people react to your performances and the characters, I was like, ‘Okay, it wasn’t that bad.’ So it was good and, of course, now topping it with Bajirao Mastani.

BOI: Were you not worried about having two big releases (Tamasha and Bajirao Mastani) within just three weeks, both of them high-profile films?

DP: Two years ago, I had four releases in a single year but at least they were spaced out, one every four months. This is the first time I have two consecutive films releasing less than a month apart. These things are beyond an actor’s control. I also think it a true test for an actor to have two big releases, back to back, and still convince the audience of both characters you play.

RS: It’s been a very, very special year. She got Piku, Tamasha and…

DP: Bajirao!!

BOI: Finally, what do you think will happen on December 18? What are your expectations?

RS: I don’t know. I will be going to cinema halls, most probably, just to get a first-hand reaction.

DP: Bajirao is not a film; it’s going to be an experience.

RS: So I want to see the faces in the audience.

DP: (Cuts in) Since Bajirao Mastani is an experience, when you come out of the theatre, you will say, ‘I have not watched the film, I have experienced it!’

RS: If watching the trailer on the big screen is anything to go by, you can imagine what the rest of the film must be like. And believe me, nobody has even seen the best parts yet, you know, the parts that required so much work. The film has so much more to offer. And, as Deepika said, it’s not just an audiovisual experience, it is a part of you that is deep down and you have an experience in the cinema hall.

 

Box Office India (BOI): Ranveer, why did you take so long to visit our office?
Ranveer Singh (RS): I ask you, Mr Vajir,
why? Kyun?
BOI: We have called you before but you were busy.
Deepika Padukone (DP): It had to happen with me because I am the favourite here.
BOI: Can’t deny it, that’s true.
DP: It had to happen!
RV: Yes, it had to, for a special film like Bajirao Mastani. I have always looked forward to visiting your office, sitting here and posing for pictures that will be printed front page par. I was telling this gentleman, that every time I receive an edition of Box Office India, it has a designated place in my living room where I can easily find it. First, it used to be in the TV room, this room or that room but now it is on the red sofa near the table, in that corner, in case you want it. So I open Box Office India and go from back to front, not front to back, acha toh sab samajh mein aa jata hai. Kyunki main inn baton mein kachha hoon na, numbers and all. First, I pretend to understand everything!
DP: Just call me when the interview starts (Laughs).
RS: Then I get to know what’s happening with the others, about dubbing, shooting kya kya chal raha hai. Then I get to the features. As I was saying (Laughs), I have the latest edition at home, not the latest one, the one prior to that, whose cover read ‘Unstoppable Force!’  (Laughs). Bhai toh aate jaate wahi dikhta hai mujhe ki yaad rakh December 18!! There’s Mr. Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) on the cover, gun in hand, and it says, an unstoppable force. That’s just a reminder, aate jaate.
BOI: Is this your biggest film, so far?
RS: Yes sir, it is definitely bigger in scale, mounting, budget… everything, the universality of the film itself, at a commercial level and also at the creative level. It perhaps goes into the level of spirituality, and the scale is visible in the trailer. It is no secret that it’s one of the biggest budgets any Hindi film has had so far. So, yes, it is a big deal for me, to do one of the biggest-ever films, at this stage in my career. And the credit goes to Mr Bhansali for backing me.
At the time of Ram Leela, it was a big film for me to do and Lootera had not even released when he signed me for that film. So for this film to come to me at this stage… you could say it’s before it’s time. Waqt se pehle you know. Only a few guys have worked on a budget like this. But Mr Bhansali believed that I could deliver after seeing my work in Ram Leela. I am grateful to him and, hopefully, this film will be, not a step forward, but a leap forward for me.
BOI: It took him so many years to make this…
RS: …12 to 15 years.
BOI: 12 years.
RS: Yes, this story had a journey. Every time Mr Bhansali wanted to make a film, he actually wanted to make Bajirao Mastani but he ended up making something else. Finally, while making Ram Leela, he decided it was time to make this film, and had mentioned that in passing. Then, after the success of Ram Leela, planning that film the way he did, he was confident that he would make this film. Now, here we are, 10 days away from its release.
BOI: Do you think the script waited for Ranveer and Deepika?
RS: I think it waited for Deepika (Laughs). We all know the value she adds to any project and we knew it during Ram Leela as well. So, thank you, Deepika, also for why Bajirao Mastani was made.
BOI: Deepika, you have been part of many big films. Was this one any different?
DP: It is actually different in every way. It is different in terms of the character I am playing; it is different because of the kind of film it is; it is different because it is a period film; and it is different because of Sanjay sir’s vision and hunger to make this film. It is a very challenging film for an actor and it takes a lot out of you. There were days when you just felt like giving up; there were days where you were so exhausted that you just didn’t want to do it any more.
Of course, when we watched the trailer and everyone got goosebumps, it was overwhelming and it reminded one of all the hard work and energy we had put into the movie. Everything came back in a flash… all the arguments, all the disagreements, all the crying… it all comes back and you feel choked. Everything you probably thought while shooting – I don’t want to do this film, I want to give up or I am never going to work with him again – suddenly vanishes. You feel recharged and ready to work with him again because of what you finally see on the screen.
RS: But, literally, haan… blood, sweat and tears. Khoon bhi nikla, pasine bhi choot gaye, tears also. There was blood, sweat and tears for so many people.
DP: (Cuts in) Broken bones too!
RS: Yes, broken bones. I mean, what haven’t we done, yaar?
BOI: And you shot for over 250 days.
RS: It didn’t feel like that as the process was so immersive, so all-consuming that you feel as if nothing else existed. I was training from 5am to 7am, learning to use a bow and arrow, horse-riding or sword fighting. We would shoot from 7am to 7pm, and train again from 7pm to 9pm. Training and shooting simultaneously was all-consuming. For 12 hours on the sets, his (Bhansali) creativity keeps evolving, he keeps improvising the scene, designing it differently and changing lines. You have to keep up with him, which means you have to be on your toes.
Between shots, you are either learning your lines or offering inputs because he is very collaborative and is always asking you questions. It is not like you’re waiting, off camera, while the shot is being set up for four hours. You are fully immersed. During those 12 hours, you are all about that (film). In the past year, every other aspect of life took a back seat but for a good reason. I mean, look at the trailer,
I was blown away when I saw it on the
big screen.
DP: More than 200 days of shooting makes you wonder how much you can give. Because it is so consuming that, after a point, there is a fear of exhaustion, emotional exhaustion, mental exhaustion, because you have to submit and give so much every day, to every scene, over one and a half years. And he (Bhansali) is not easily satisfied. Never mind satisfied, he always demands more than 100 per cent. There is no… Chalo, ho jaayega, nothing is upar upar se or a chalta hai attitude. It makes you wonder whether, emotionally, you will be able to give what he is demanding of you due to the sheer duration of shooting.
BOI: Ranveer, what was it like for you… the action, the physicality of it all, the emotional intensity that Deepika spoke of, being a period film. What was the scariest part for you?
RS: Some of the emotionally charged scenes. It was very daunting to listen to those scenes even at the narration level. Your instinctive reaction is, ‘Oh my God, how am I going to approach this scene?’ There are points in this character’s life that are very difficult, so you don’t know what it is going to be like. Those points in one’s life are very daunting. The climax gave me sleepless nights for an entire year! I would keep asking Bhansali questions and he would tell me, ‘You will do it (Laughs).’
Some of those scenes are part of an emotional memory that you tap into from your own life. You have to go back deep into your soul, to once again feel the way you did at that time. If you haven’t experienced anything like that, you have
to rely on your imagination. And, amid all of that, we had to keep up with Mr Bhansali, who is like a charged-up bunny on the sets!
As soon as he arrives on the sets, his ADs, actors and technicians begin chasing him, anxious to be given instructions and information. That is Mr Bhansali’s creative process and it is hard to keep up, especially when there are difficult scenes to perform. Those emotional scenes were very daunting. I wonder how they have turned out because I haven’t yet watched the entire film!
BOI: Was it easier doing this film as you had worked with Bhansali before?
RS: Yes, it is easier because you are familiar with the man’s creative process. You have to go in, every morning, like a blank canvas; you can’t decide beforehand how you will execute a scene because everything is going to change while shooting. Sometimes, a six-page scene becomes a one-page scene or one sentence can become a monologue.
You sleep araam se, and you need a minimum eight hours of sleep to function on Mr Bhansali’s set.
BOI: Deepika, how has Ranveer grown as an actor over time?
DP: He is one of the few actors from this generation who so completely transforms himself into the character he is playing that there is no trace of himself in the character. When I watch Dil Dhadkane Do, I see Kabir; when I watch Band Baaja Baaraat, I see Bitoo Sharma. Just 5 or 10 minutes into the film, you are invested in the character he is playing. He is one of the few actors I have worked with who transforms himself into the character, even physically, to suit the character he is playing. I think in Ram-Leela, he was a little unsure of himself but, with Bajirao, he has more control over what he is doing.
RS: Kitni meethi baatein karti hai!!! (Laughs)
BOI: Tell us about the night after your first narration and the feeling of being part of a dream that Bhansali had harboured for 12 years. Was it a joint narration or an individual one?
DP: It was not a joint narration.
RS: I was given the narration in his office. After I emerged, he was there, pacing up and down, waiting for me. As soon as he saw me, he was, like, ‘Tell me!’ All I did was give him a big hug because, after listening to such a powerful story, you can get very emotional. We went out on his terrace and spoke for two hours about the film, about the canvas and how we were going to shoot, what he saw in the character and what I felt. It is important for a director like him to know what his actor feels, the instinctive first reaction after hearing the narration. We spent a long time on the terrace just talking, with me doing most of the talking, reacting to what I had heard. It is a timeless story, you can make this film in any decade and at any time and it will be just as powerful and emotionally charged. The emotions are universal, the story is timeless and he has a very high-octane approach.
DP: I knew we had something very special but I did not want to overthink it as I didn’t want to weigh myself down by making myself realise the enormity of what I was getting into. I didn’t want to let something like that affect my performance. I wanted to treat it like any other film and, just because of the scale, it did not mean I was going to do any extra acting in Bajirao Mastani, just because it was Bajirao Mastani. I was not going to conserve my energy in one film and do something extra in Bajirao just because of the scale.
I give all I have to every film I do. The scale and other elements are the director’s job. I don’t build things up in my mind and treat any film differently from my other films. To my mind, all my films are equally big.
BOI: The moment you step in, the movie becomes big.
DP: Of course, it is special but I don’t want to build it up in my own mind. I know that if Sanjay sir is working with me for the second time, back to back, there is something in there. I don’t want to create pressure for myself by telling myself, ‘You know what, Deepika, this is a really big film and you have to give this your all.’ I don’t want to do that to myself. I may not be able to perform well if I put that kind of pressure on myself. I would rather just treat it like any other film and let the magic happen, when it has to happen, if it has to happen.
BOI: Ranveer, do you do the same thing?
RS: No, I will try that. (Laughs). Well, whether it is a film that has a smaller canvas, scale, mounting or a massive one like Bajirao Mastani, from an actor’s point of view, you have to give it 110 per cent every single time. For me, that also applies to whether the film is fully mainstream or not. But my process, my approach, is very different for each character, For instance, I don’t usually have to prep as much as much I did for Bajirao Mastani. For Dil Dhadkane Do, it was a much more conversational, candid, easy breezy kind of film but that didn’t mean I didn’t put my best foot forward. It was just physically and emotionally less demanding than Bajirao Mastani.
After this film, I am going to do another light romance, Befikre, for which even the shooting experience is different. So, if Dil Dhadkane Do felt like we were on a family vacation, there were times in Bajirao Mastani when I felt I was on a battlefield and times when I felt I was losing my mind. Even Mr Bhansali said to me, ‘You are turning into a lunatic, my child.’ So I get very immersed and I totally adapt to the genre.
The shooting experience reflects the kind of film it is and even my behaviour is impacted. So, the ADs on Dil Dhadkane Do will tell you that I am so much fun to be around, but the ADs on Bajirao Mastani will be, like, ‘He is a terror.’ So, yes, different films, different approaches but the one constant is that you put your best foot forward, every single time.
BOI: Call it a coincidence but you are clashing with Shah Rukh Khan this year end and will be replacing him in an Aditya Chopra movie early next year…
RS: (Cuts in) As far as I know, I was the only choice for Befikre and I am not replacing anyone.
BOI: No, not replacing, as he has only worked with Shah Rukh, so far, in that sense.
RS: Oh, yes, it is cool. It is a great privilege and an honour for me. In fact, it is a matter of pride that my mentor chose me to be in his movie and I am the only actor besides the mega star with whom he has worked. So, it is a matter of great pride that he believes in my ability to do justice to the character. He explained to me why he was so comfortable working with Mr Khan. He used to tell me that he (SRK) is just amazing, he is almost like a computer. ‘All I have to do is press something and it gets done.’ That is the kind of brilliance with which he delivers for his directors.
He used to draw from his shooting experiences with Mr Khan to teach me what I could learn from him. If you can be like this with each of your directors, then they will not want to work with anybody else. He often used his example to teach me more about how to better myself.
BOI: Deepika, as an actor, we assume it was easy for you to relate to the character in Piku or even in Tamasha as they are about modern young women, just like you. What did you draw on to essay the role of this personality from history?
DP: It is a period film but as a woman, I find her (Mastani) very relevant today. Her story, her courage is very relevant. I believe there is a Mastani in every woman because she has to multi-task. She was a warrior princess, and women today are faced with so many difficulties. They may not be in an actual battlefield but they are confronted by challenges that require the same kind of willpower, strength and fearlessness to overcome these situations.
Mastani stood for what she believed was right, she stood up against the system because she believed she was correct. And she had so much faith in herself, in her love and in everything that she did and at the same time she was extremely emotional, extremely vulnerable, very fragile and delicate, which I believe are the qualities that every woman of today has. So it may be a period film but I am certain that women will identify with Mastani and most definitely be inspired by her journey.
BOI: Ranveer, as you said, this film was very different for you. Did it take time for you to emerge from your character after you finished shooting?
RS: I am still not out of it! No, I am just kidding. Since I had invested so much in this movie, that by the time we got around to completing the shoot in October, I was waiting to exhale. I was waitng to emerge from my character as I had lived the role for long enough and gone deep into it. Also, we shot the climax at the very end and then we shot for the song Malhari, which is a celebratory song.
It was great that we kept the climax for the end because that is when things rise to a crescendo, like in any piece of art. Now that it is done, it is time to celebrate. So we shot the celebratory song and it was a great note to end the shoot on. For me, the process itself was the prize. Whatever transpires on December 18 and after that will be a bonus for me. I already have my prize.
BOI: Deepika, do you easily snap out of roles or do they linger?
DP: They linger. Whether you like it or not, they linger, and very often it takes another film to help you snap out of the earlier role, or sometimes a very long break.
RS: A long holiday (Laughs).
DP: Yeah! It doesn’t leave your system for a while.
RS: Yes. I am changed for life. After playing Peshwa Bajirao, my whole personality has changed, but in a good way. I have learnt a lot from the character. He is a very, very inspiring man. Mard! (Laughs)
BOI: Ranveer, as an actor, how have you evolved?
RS: Well, I have learnt the depths I can go to, to tap into my energy reserves, emotional reserves and physical reserves. Let’s put it this way, now I am a rubberband and I know how far I can stretch.
BOI: Deepika, what has 2015 been like for you, having done Piku, Tamasha and now Bajirao Mastani?
DP: What more could I ask for!
BOI:  Well, you have had many good years, it’s been four years now!
DP: It’s overwhelming. Before the films released, I was like, ‘Oh God! Why are all of these releasing in the same year?’ But when you get feedback and see how people react to your performances and the characters, I was like, ‘Okay, it wasn’t that bad.’ So it was good and, of course, now topping it with Bajirao Mastani.
BOI: Were you not worried about having two big releases (Tamasha and Bajirao Mastani) within just three weeks, both of them high-profile films?
DP: Two years ago, I had four releases in a single year but at least they were spaced out, one every four months. This is the first time I have two consecutive films releasing less than a month apart. These things are beyond an actor’s control. I also think it a true test for an actor to have two big releases, back to back, and still convince the audience of both characters you play.
RS: It’s been a very, very special year. She got Piku, Tamasha and…
DP: Bajirao!!
BOI: Finally, what do you think will happen on December 18? What are your expectations?
RS: I don’t know. I will be going to cinema halls, most probably, just to get a first-hand reaction.
DP: Bajirao is not a film; it’s going to be an experience.
RS: So I want to see the faces in the audience.
DP: (Cuts in) Since Bajirao Mastani is an experience, when you come out of the theatre, you will say, ‘I have not watched the film, I have experienced it!’
RS: If watching the trailer on the big screen is anything to go by, you can imagine what the rest of the film must be like. And believe me, nobody has even seen the best parts yet, you know, the parts that required so much work. The film has so much more to offer. And, as Deepika said, it’s not just an audiovisual experience, it is a part of you that is deep down and you have an experience in the cinema hall.
Box Office India
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As on 20th January, 2018
FilmsWeekWeeklyTotal
1921111.22Cr11.22Cr
Mukkabaaz106.48Cr06.48Cr
Kaalakaandi104.93Cr04.93Cr
Wo India Ka Shakespear110.00K10.00K
Udanchhoo207.04K07.04K
Haseena203.65K03.65K
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