Ranveer as Khilji

First look of Ranveer Singh in Sanjay Bhansali’s “Padmavati.” (photo provided)

MUMBAI—Ranveer Singh is the only actor in the current crop who is known to take on a role and give it complete, unwavering commitment. He puts himself through pain to experience emotions that a character undergoes, often letting all of it take a toll on him.

Apparently, to play Alauddin Khilji, the menacing, cruel anti-hero in Sanjay Bhansali’s “Padmavati,” Singh explored such hidden depths of negativity that he had to see a shrink to ‘un-become’ Khilji and get back to ‘normal.’

To play Khilji, Singh had been researching and exploring extreme negativity. Normally a friendly, warm young man, he now took the same route as he had to play Peshwa Bajirao. He locked himself up in his apartment (for “Bajirao Mastani” it was a hotel!), prepped and stayed in for weeks.

Singh isolated himself to immerse completely into his character. He had to undergo an “extremely challenging process” to get into Khilji’s headspace, which was “physically, emotionally and mentally draining.” Apart from moving into an apartment close to Filmcity where the film was being shot, he interacted only with Bhansali, his assistant, personal trainer and a few key members of the crew. He also cut off completely from his social interactions.

Singh also read some books on various tyrants to understand the psyche of his character. He knew that the only way to portray the character to perfection is by understanding Khilji’s mindset. Besides the emotional aspects, he also worked out for over three hours every day to look bigger, meaner and tougher.

Singh said, “I can say that the entire journey has been a discovery of sorts that involved lots of exploration. It has been extremely rewarding and gratifying.” Singh would also apply a rare ‘ittar’ (perfume) from Turkey. This was gifted to him by a friend. However, during the course of the shoot, the bottle got lost, and Singh had to remind himself of the powerful fragrance and complete the shoot!

But getting out of this dark, intimidating mindset was no cakewalk. The film has also been shot for almost a year now, so it affected his reactions and behavior towards people. His friends suggested getting professional help by visiting a shrink. Ironically, Singh’s last film was called “Befikre (Carefree)!”

Ranveer Singh’s demeanor on the sets has already been much spoken about. He would walk in wearing his costume, overcome by a dark mood, ensuring that no one comes close to him or makes conversation. The decision to visit a psychiatrist seemed to be a final recourse. He has been taking holidays after each schedule of this magnum opus and has reportedly bought himself a posh luxury car to cheer himself up.

In preparation for the “Bajirao Mastani” third act, Singh had made himself fall ill to feel the character’s trauma. Ranveer Singh had blacked out on the film’s sets during the third act (in which Bajirao gets a fatal illness), leaving director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and the entire unit anxious. Witnesses from the set say that his eyes had rolled back, and his veins seemed to be popping out.

He had a fit of sorts, which had made the film’s unit so worried that they rushed him to the home of a local political dignitary to seek medical help. Three hours later, when Singh woke up, he had no memory of all that had happened. He had reportedly built such a deep connect with Peshwa Bajirao’s suffering that the trauma had an adverse physical reaction on him.

Singh had pushed the envelope for “Lootera” too. As the film’s protagonist suffers a gunshot wound and limps for a long time with this severe injury, Ranveer wanted to experience its searing pain. So he made an eye-popping choice: he chose to staple his sides, and walk with the staples attached to his body to bring authenticity to his character, as per what Singh had told India-West then!

For nearly 50 percent of the film’s shoot, in faraway mountain locations, Ranveer Singh had the sides of his body stapled and continued to deliver on his character’s tragic journey.

He does look ultra-scary as the cruel Khilji as the posters show. In fact, his poster was leaked out a short while before the scheduled date, causing Twitterati to dub it as another kind of piracy! Yet, we suggest to Singh that he does not do such crazy things. Maybe he can take a tip or two from the superstar of his generation – Varun Dhawan – on how to be effortlessly different in each role.

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