'Be smart, be sexy': Ranveer Singh recalls casting couch experiences

Actor spoke about his journey as an actor, ordeal with the casting couch and getting into the skin of his characters

Entertainment Desk November 18, 2022

Ranveer Singh was recently honoured with prestigious felicitation at Marrakech Film Festival 2022 alongside the likes of Scottish actor Tilda Swinton, American filmmaker James Gray, and Moroccan director Farida Benlyazid. 

While speaking to Deadline, the actor spoke about his journey as an actor, his ordeal with the casting couch and getting into the skin of his characters. “I didn’t have a road map. It was like groping in the dark, flapping my hands and legs and trying to catch hold of something,” he said. “I joined theatre groups. I became an assistant director. I was doing different things within the Bombay film industry to find some kind of lead. I spent a lot of time staring at the ceiling wondering, ‘Is it ever going to happen for me?’”

Soon after, he met with the unsavoury side of stardom. “This guy calls me to this seedy place and is like, ‘Are you a hard worker, or a smart worker?’. I didn’t consider myself to be smart, so I said,  ‘I think I’m a hard worker.’ He was like, ‘Darling, be smart, be sexy’. I had all those kinds of experiences during those three-and-a-half years, and I think it was that period that makes me value the opportunities I have now," Singh recalled. 

The actor then went on to comment on what and who made him the star that he is today. Particularly lauding ace filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Singh shared, “He molded me to be the artist I am today. I learned so much about films, life, and art from him. For me, there is a before Sanjay Leela Bhansali and an after Sanjay Leela Bhansali.”

The actor starred in several of Bhansali's ventures, one of which garnered spectacular attention. Singh's portrayal as Alauddin Khilji IN the 2018 film, Padmaavat, made headlines for months, and the Gully Boy star had been very vocal about how he got into the skin of his character. 

“This was a bit harmful, this character,” said Singh. “Trying to create Khijil, I couldn’t wrap my head around a person who allegedly committed genocide. The kind of things I read about this guy and what he did is unimaginable. I was asking myself how can I play this with conviction. They say he killed 30,000 soldiers and made a giant pillar of all their skulls to deter invaders from coming down that path again.”

He added, “I locked myself in the apartment for the longest amount of time. I was watching Lars Von Trier films, listening to Krzysztof Penderecki’s soundtrack from The Shining. I was only engaging with these very dark and disturbing themes."

Talking about prepping for the role of a lifetime, Singh revealed, “I watched Nymphomaniac 1 and 2 back-to-back. I’d shut the lights and I’d play The Shining soundtrack and try to feel the music, I was doing all sorts of crazy things to get in touch with whatever darkness might be residing in me – I believe everyone had a bit of darkness in them. Do that from morning to night, around the clock for long enough and you become an animal.”

Singh also put himself on a meat-heavy diet, “It was a tough period. I changed my diet, to start with the gut. I ate meat morning, at lunchtime and at night. I was sweating mutton. It made me a very aggressive person. I don’t think I was a very pleasant person to be around."

Responding to a suggestion that he would make a good James Bond, Singh concluded his chat with, “Shall I audition here? You know what everybody put that energy out into the universe. Let’s see me as James Bond, the first brown James Bond, I love it.”

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