Ranveer Singh, star of this week’s release Jayeshbhai Jordaar, joined us for a freewheeling interview in which he recounted his first time ever at Yash Raj Films studios, meeting his first co-star Anushka Sharma, the 10 years that have passed since then, the philosophy behind his OTT style, the important social message his new film delivers, how the women – including wife Deepika Padukone – in his life have shaped him, and the one thing he never leaves home without. Here is the complete transcript of the interview.
NDTV: Hello and welcome to NDTV I’m Rohit Khilnani. Joining me is a Jordaar film star who we all love for so many reasons.
Ranveer Singh: Rohit Khilnani, indeed, in the flesh after three-four years. it’s been a while.
NDTV: Like you were saying, do saal toh aise hi nikal gaye (two years went by just like that).
Ranveer Singh: Haan do saal toh write off hai yaar. Beech mei kya hua pata hi nahi chala, bohot kuch hua actually Rohit ji (Yes, two years are write off. I don’t know what happened in these two years, a lot of things happened actually). I really went through quite a personal metamorphosis, a lot of internalization and I was quite affected by this whole pandemic and the lockdown and to see and witness everything that was happening around. it was a difficult time for the whole world. Now that we’re opening up, I feel like it’s important, all the more important to count your blessings, feel grateful and experience and cherish joy and spread that joy.
NDTV: Absolutely. And nothing like sitting and doing a physical interview. I’m done with Zoom and Google. Bas ho gaya(Enough).
Ranveer Singh: Yeah, that’s right.
NDTV: And I love what you’re wearing. Everybody asks, what is your brief to your stylist?
Ranveer Singh: Okay, well, in this promotional campaign, she asked, ‘so what is it that you’d like to wear? Would you like there to be some likeness to the film?’ And I said, yeah, it’s a very colorful film. It’s a very vibrant film. It’s a very happy film. So yeah, you could do you could do more of that. Less, less monochromes and, and more vibrant palette. So yeah, this as good as it gets. I’m really loving what I’m wearing today. It’s like, so comfortable. It’s like a man caftan.
NDTV: Today and everyday
Ranveer Singh: Yeah, right. Today, especially it’s so comfortable. I put my feet up. Don’t mind my degree of informality.
NDTV: This is like a homecoming for you, you recall doing a Yash Raj film. If I take you back, do you remember the first day you came to this studio?
Ranveer Singh: Wow, I remember. The first day I came to this studio. I first went to Ajivasan. Then I went back for my… when I go to call back again, I was called back to Ajivasan. Ajivasan is in Juhu only, next to SNDT. That was the old office which then became the casting centre. Which is where I gave my audition and I went for my callback. Yes, I do remember the first time I came here. It was to meet Habib Faisal and Anushka Sharma, who is the writer and co-actor, my co-actor in that film (Band Baaja Baaraat). It was my third or my second callback. And I was quite intimidated by this place. Actually, it feels so large in stature, it has to do with the reputation that the company carries. The most prominent and premier production house cum studio, entertainment conglomerate, call it what you want, since the past 35 plus years, 50 years, if I’m not mistaken. So ek toh that notion, ki yaar Yash Raj hai (first that notion that it’s Yash Raj). And then it’s one of a kind, right, this kind of studio facility that they have in the suburbs, it can be very intimidating. I was very nervous. But I was projecting confidence. Meeting Habib sir for the first time. And Habib sir has that kind of personality, he says whatever he feels, he expresses himself, you know. So when the reading wasn’t going well, he made it very evident and that really put me on a back foot. I was so nervous. Anushka, by then, was already a star; she had done Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and I had loved her in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, like loved her. And they didn’t tell me that I was going to meet her. So the door opened, and there she was sitting. I was like at sixes and sevens. Cut to 10 years later, the same thing happens to Divyang Thakkar, the director of Jayeshbhai Jordaar. It’s like the script came to them. They loved it. Manish (Sharma) sir said I’m making this. He took it to Adi (Aditya Chopra) sir. Adi sir said, I can’t wait to make this, this is a story that just has to be told, what an amazing script. And then they called me to hear it but that night They didn’t tell me it was the same room where I had my first story hearing session. Where this callback had happened, where Habib and Anushka had met for the first time in Yash Raj, exact same room. Divyang sitting there, exact same way, they didn’t tell him I was coming. So when I entered it took him like five minutes to get to collect himself before he started. What I will never forget, it was a narration like no other. And at the end of which I said, bro, I’m doing this movie and it’s never happened that I don’t take a day or week or 10 days to kind of think my decision through because which films you say yes and no to is a large part of the game. The filmi keedas, you know, they say you live and die by your ‘yes’es and ‘no’es. So I took absolutely no time to think this through. It was impulsive, instinctive, on the spot. He finished the narration. He said ‘the end,’ I got up applauded him. I had been crying and laughing throughout the past few hours. He finished, he bawled, he sobbed into my shoulder. We were in an embrace for a good five whole minutes. And I was like, bro, you really have something to say. And I would be honoured to be a part of this.
NDTV: Amazing. You know how the tables turn – one day you walked in to Anushka Sharma. Today, newcomers are walking in, there’s Ranveer Singh. How is this, you know, this journey gone by very quickly, or?
Ranveer Singh: It’s gone by too quickly. When I realised I’m inching towards completing a decade I could hardly believe it. I was like, oh, yeah, it’s been 10 years. And what a journey it’s been every step of the way has been surreal. The experience that I that I have had, the things that have happened to me and around me, I couldn’t have dreamed of, it is so surreal. I feel like something or the other happens every day till date. Which is so surreal. It makes me feel like my whole life is a dream. Like, I’m literally a movie star. I’m doing what I love to do for a living. People love to see me. They cast their eyes upon me, I appear in front of them and their face lights up, they break into a smile. And what creative blessing there is then that I can hardly believe that that is the case. I don’t know what it is. Maybe my amusing appearance, or perhaps how they’ve seen me in movies or off screen. I don’t know, I can’t put my finger on what it is. But this happens every so often. Almost every day where you know you’re in the car and there’s another car passing by or you’re just about anywhere. People smile when they see my face. And I think that’s the greatest blessing that I’ve ever had or earned. What more can I ask for? Yeah, that’s my purpose in life. I just want to make people happy, cast the light upon others. Make this excruciating, agonizing journey of life a little bit lighter and bearable for people. I live to make people smile. And now they see my face and they smile. I think it’s the most incredible blessing. I’m so grateful that oftentimes I’m overwhelmed by that gratitude. So, the journey has been beyond my wildest imagination, like I tell my near and dear ones, and I’ll tell you as well. Everybody has a vision, something they want to manifest ki aisa hoga, waisa hoga (that something or the other will happen). The stuff that’s happened with me is beyond imagination. I could not have even imagined ki aisa hoga (that something like this would happen) so yeah, it’s been it’s a trip. It’s absolutely surreal. And I’m ever so often in disbelief that it’s actually happening.
NDTV: It’s amazing. It’s incredible that you also enjoy it and I can see that, Ranveer you know, where does this kind of energy come from? Because every time you say a car is passing you’re also making you’re giving them a selfie you’re giving them a thumbs up. How are you positive? It’s a question a lot of people must have asked.
Ranveer Singh: Yeah, I choose to be positive I choose to be optimistic. I choose to I choose to position myself as a channel as a conduit as just a catalyst for for goodness, happiness, cheer joy, because I feel like fundamentally, we are up against it. You know? I feel like I’ve had this belief now for a long, long time, I’ve evolved into the kind of person and I have this inclination towards spirituality and the notion that actually we are living in a kalyuga (the age of darkness), and it’s possibly the worst it’s ever been in all of existence. I look upon me, you know, and I look upon I look around me and see what’s happening in the world ravaged by a pandemic war. Everybody I see is fighting some battle or the other you know, everybody’s fighting a battle. You have your own battle. I have my own battles, sir has his own, ma’am has her own you know, everybody’s fighting a battle and has difficulties, challenges. It’s not a bed of roses, it’s not all happy for just about anyone aap bade se bade aadmi se le ke chhote se chhote aadmi (from a well known big man to a small man) admit that everybody has problems plagued by problems. It’s anything but utopian you know, it’s so I have this belief but having been well aware of the fact that this journey of life is difficult and just existence in today’s day and age is just agonizing.
I feel like existence is agonizing. So what do you do? You know that you’re on this journey, not alone, you’re with others, they’re walking along with you on this journey of life. It’s a rocky road, the sun’s beating down on you. It’s a difficult journey, existence in the Kalyug (the age of darkness) in today’s day and age is simply agonizing. And all the more if you have a predisposition of being empathetic and compassionate and sensitive, you feel all that pain and suffering in the world even more. So what do you do then? You know what the inevitable is, you know what the destination is? You know everybody’s going to die someday. So what do you do, you just try and make the journey lighter, you know? Sabko pata hai mushkil hai, Sabko pata hai kya hone waala hai end me (Everyone knows it’s hard, everyone knows what is going to happen in the end). So you just try and keep things light, the best thing you can do is help others along the way. And how do you do that? You give. You radiate your light upon them. You give you. You be kind. My purpose I feel is to entertain, to make them smile. Come I’ll tell you, like I always say on this journey, I’ll tell you a joke, I’ll sing you a song, I’ll do a dance for you, I’ll do something that might distract you from the fact that we’re on this excruciating journey together and tell you a story or something. And it’s this light that I’m able to now generate, I’ve evolved into the kind of person now I don’t need external stimulus to generate power, energy, light, goodness, that I can radiate upon others. I think that is a purpose for life, when you live for others, or live to make other people happy, or to entertain people, I find that as a purpose in my life, how I do that is by counting my blessings.
I look at my life. And all this happened during the pandemic. I was observing everything that’s happening around, and I was like, man, I have a home, I have a roof over my head, I have food to eat, I have water to drink, to bathe, clothes to wear. I’m healthy, I got my eyesight, I’ve got my body, it’s totally functional. These are all blessings, we often take these little things for granted. And I don’t lose sight of that. So I start every day with gratitude. And it is so empowering. It’s like a generator of goodness in my heart. My drive, I’m driven by the power of gratitude. And I would recommend that way, everybody. If you just say thanks for all the good things in your life, and you recognise them and you become aware of them, it will fill you with gratitude, and you will become immensely powerful from that.
NDTV: Beautiful, you know, I hope people follow that. That’s the secret.
Ranveer Singh: That’s the secret.
NDTV: What would be Jayeshbhai’s advice to… it’s such a beautiful topic that even now where we live, people would be like humko beta chahiye (we want a son). What would be Jayeshbhai’s advice to this?
Ranveer Singh: You know, I was giving an interview with a lady just today, just this morning. And she shared her story with me. And it was so touching that somebody said, hey, thank you for being a part of this film and presenting a film like this because it’s happened to me. She said my grandmother refused to see my face or hold me when I was born. She wanted a boy and my father had to beg her to accept me. And I learned about it later in life and I was so hurt by it, so saddened by it, that I made it my life’s purpose to make my parents proud. And I felt like, wow, there’s more relevance, more significance to this story than I had imagined. I just had this realization. So yeah, it’s a film that I’m extremely proud to be a part of spearheading. This film has been an honour because there’s so many good things about it. Fresh energies, new director, colourful, vibrant, humorous film. Yet embedded within it is a social message, an important social message. And it is a unique kind of offering in the sense that, this kind of social dramedy with tragic humour, where you’re speaking about really dark and disturbing themes like dowry, domestic violence, infanticide, foeticide, patriarchy, yet it was so entertaining, you’re just laughing the whole way through. And at some point, hopefully, you will feel the emotion of the film, and it may move you and you will certainly receive that message not in a preachy way, but in a very entertaining way. And it is a clean family entertainer, one that the entire family can watch. And I’m really going through that phase where I want to present films to the audience where they can all sit together. It’s not like, oh, this movie is too violent, or this movie is too edgy. So the kids can’t say, it’s awkward to watch with your parents or with the old people at home. It’s one that you can all sit together and enjoy, because the pandemic kind of divided us in a sense, kept us away from one another, we couldn’t go to the theaters, we couldn’t meet, could not touch each other. So now I want to present those cinematic experiences where people can watch together. Together is the key word, watch it together and have that experience that you share with each other and if it connects with you, then that will be a cherished memory that you all will share together. So movies that bring people together, I’m really, really happy with this option.
NDTV: It is looking entertaining. My last question is, each woman who has crossed our path has added something to our life. Who are the ones who have added to yours? What has your mom and your wife Deepika added to your life?
Ranveer Singh: Well, I’ve been very blessed. I think one of the greatest blessings in my life, perhaps the greatest blessing in my life, is that I have angels around me, who protect. They’re the centerpiece of my whole universe, the women in my life. I’ve grown up with my mom, nani, my sister who’s like a second mother to me, and now Deepika, my mother-in-law. These strong feminine forces around me, empower me, they uplift me, they protect me, they are my angels, they are my source of energy and power and joy. And I am what I am because of them. And having been raised by women, I grew up to be sensitive. My dad was always in the pursuit of being the protector and provider, and it’s through Jayeshbhai Jordaar that I have a deeper appreciation, love and respect for him that I’ve never had before, because I’m not a father yet, but I’m playing a father. So to get to the depths of what that character might be feeling, I had to explore and go transport myself back to parts of my life, components of my life, where I would have experienced that. And I was taken back to the way my dad has been a man who would do everything in his power and capability and pour every ounce of effort and energy into being the best protector and provider for his family. It’s through this cinematic experience and playing Jayesh in this most wonderful film that I have a much deeper and pronounced appreciation for everything that my father did. So yes, a very, very important and significant film for me in my career as well as for me personally. It’s been a fulfilling journey as an artist but it’s really spurred an evolution within me at a very, very personal level as well.
NDTV: Amazing. Personally, you have such beautiful women around and professionally also I can see your team also has so many women doing incredible work contributing to your professional and personal life. Thank you very much. I want to end by saying that Ranveer, wherever he goes, the energy he has also comes from the music around. Yeah. if life could have a background score he would have always have some peppy background score.
Ranveer Singh: Before I became a movie star, I used to think this to myself that whenever I will go anywhere, I will go with a boombox. So it started with a small speaker, became bigger, became bigger. Now I come with this box, with this life-size box.
NDTV: Can we end it on a high note, can we end on a high note with a Jayeshbhai song?
Ranveer Singh: Kyu nahi yaar, kyu nahi (why not)? I don’t need a second invitation for these things you know.
NDTV: Right, can we show that, can we show that speaker that is always with you.
Ranveer Singh: Dikhao yar(Show it) JBL, the best. Dekho ji ye gaana (See this song) because you’re gonna…See how cool it is. It’s got disco lights and everything. And the lights change the pattern of the lights can change. This is my prized possession, my boombox. I don’t leave the house without it. This is like a portable disco. It’s like you take the party wherever you go.
NDTV: This is his boombox which is always with him.