Overly energetic Ranveer Singh | Sunday Observer

Overly energetic Ranveer Singh

23 January, 2022

Ranveer Singh Bhavnani (born July 6, 1985) is an Indian actor who is known for his work in Hindi films. The recipient of several awards, including four Filmfare Awards, he is among the highest-paid Indian actors and has been featured in Forbes India’s Celebrity 100 list since 2012.

After completing his bachelor’s degree from Indiana University Bloomington, Singh returned to India to pursue an acting career in film. He briefly worked in advertising and made his acting debut in 2010 with a leading role in Yash Raj Films’ romantic comedy Band Baaja Baaraat. The film emerged as a critical and commercial success, earning him the Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut. He gained praise for playing a melancholic thief in the drama Lootera (2013), and established himself with his collaborations with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, beginning with the romance Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013).

Singh gained critical acclaim for portraying Bajirao I and Alauddin Khilji in Bhansali’s period dramas Bajirao Mastani (2015) and Padmaavat (2018), respectively. He won the Filmfare Award for Best Actor for the former and the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor for the latter. These along with the action film Simmba (2018), in which he played the title character, rank among the highest-grossing Indian films. He won another Filmfare Award for Best Actor for playing an aspiring rapper in Zoya Akhtar’s musical drama Gully Boy (2019). Singh is married to his frequent co-star Deepika Padukone.

Established actor

Zoya Akhtar’s ensemble comedy-drama Dil Dhadakne Do (2015), produced by and cameo-starring her brother Farhan Akhtar, featured Singh alongside Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah and Priyanka Chopra as the younger sibling of a dysfunctional Punjabi business family who aspires to become a pilot. Writing for Mumbai Mirror, Kunal Guha found Singh to be the “surprise element” of the film; he praised his “immaculate comic timing” and took note of his subtlety. 

Commercially, the film underperformed. He next reunited with Bhansali in the period romance Bajirao Mastani (2015), opposite Padukone and Chopra. He portrayed Bajirao I, for which he shaved his head and to prepare, he locked himself in a hotel room for 21 days. 

Raja Sen wrote that Singh “brings his character to life and does so with both machismo and grace”, and commended him for his perfecting his character’s gait and accent. The film earned 3.5 billion (US$46 million) to become one of the highest-grossing Indian films, and garnered Singh the Filmfare Award for Best Actor.

In 2016, Singh starred in Aditya Chopra’s comedy-romance Befikre opposite Vaani Kapoor. He played Dharam Gulati, a stand-up comic whose romantic liaisons with Kapoor’s character leads to conflict between them. Set in Paris, Befikre marked the fourth project to be directed by Chopra. Singh performed a nude scene for it, a rare occurrence in an Indian film. Jay Weissberg of Variety found the film to be an “overly energetic twist on the old friends with benefits theme” and criticised Singh’s “manic behavior”. It underperformed at the box office.

After a year-long absence from the screen, Singh portrayed Alauddin Khilji, a ruthless Muslim king, in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period drama Padmaavat (2018), co-starring Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor, which marked his third collaboration with Bhansali and Padukone. 

Right-wing Hindu groups speculated that the film distorted historical facts, and issued violent threats against the cast and crew. The film’s release was deferred and was allowed for exhibition after several modifications were made to it. Ankur Pathak of HuffPost criticised the film’s misogynistic and regressive themes, but praised Singh for his “astute brilliance” in depicting Khilji’s bisexuality. Rajeev Masand opined that he “plays the part with the sort of grotesque flamboyance that makes it hard to look at anyone or anything else when he’s on the screen”. 

Padmaavat’s production budget of 2 billion (US$27 million) made it the most expensive Hindi film ever made at that time. With a worldwide gross of over 5.7 billion (US$76 million), it ranks as Singh’s highest-grossing release and is among India cinema’s biggest grossers. He won the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor (shared with Ayushmann Khurrana for Andhadhun) and gained a Best Actor nomination at the ceremony.

Towards the close of the same year, Singh played the titular corrupt policeman in Rohit Shetty’s action comedy Simmba, based on the Telugu-language film Temper (2015), co-starring Sara Ali Khan and Sonu Sood, which marked his first collaboration with filmmaker Karan Johar, who co-produced the film with Shetty. 

Despite disliking the film, Uday Bhatia of Mint credited Singh for playing his “cardboard creation” of a character with an “underlying sweetness that renders it more winsome than the humourless masculinity of Devgn’s Singham”. With worldwide earnings of  four billion (US$53 million), Simmba emerged as Singh’s second top-earning Indian film of 2018.

Singh next re-teamed with the Akhtars on Gully Boy (2019), a musical inspired by the life of the street rappers Divine and Naezy. Singh found little in common with his character of a poor man who aspires to become a rapper, and in preparation he attended acting workshops and spent time with both Divine and Naezy. He performed his own rap songs and was pleased that the film brought attention to India’s underground music scene. 

The film premiered at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival. Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter commended him for displaying a “pleasingly full emotional range that extends to drama and hip-hop” and writing for Film Companion, Baradwaj Rangan praised his ghetto accent and found his understated performance to be a “superb showreel for his range”. Gully Boy won a record 13 Filmfare Awards, and Singh received another Best Actor award.

Singh launched his own production company named Maa Kasam Films in 2020, and reprise his role as Simmba in Shetty’s action film Sooryavanshi, which saw a 2021 release due to delays induced by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. 

He next portrayed cricketer Kapil Dev in Kabir Khan’s 83, a sports film based on the 1983 Cricket World Cup, and the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh in Johar’s historical drama Takht, which features an ensemble cast including Kareena Kapoor, Bhatt, Bhumi Pednekar, Janhvi Kapoor and Vicky Kaushal. He has also committed to team up with Yash Raj Films once again for the comedy Jayeshbhai Jordaar, and is slated to appear in Tamil filmmaker Shankar’s rehash of his 2005 cult classic Anniyan, which would be produced by Pen India Limited.

Singh made his small screen debut as a host in the television game show The Big Picture which premiered on 16 October 2021 on Colors TV.