With 'Bajirao Mastani' Ranveer Singh Has Conquered Bollywood... And He Is Here To Stay

25/12/2015 8:27 AM IST | Updated 29/08/2016 9:00 PM IST
STRDEL via Getty Images
Indian Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh poses during a promotional event of the forthcoming Hindi film Dil Dhadakne Do in Mumbai on May 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)

The story of blockbusters in 2015 can be summed up in three Bs: Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Baahubali and Bajirao Mastani. All three films managed to strike that increasingly elusive balance between content and commerce and showed filmmakers across India how it's done.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Bajirao Mastani initially had an understated reception, but positive word of mouth spread quickly, and this epic saga about a brave warrior and his ill-fated love story has become the favour of the season. While the film has met with diverse reactions, if there is one thing everyone is unanimous about it is leading man Ranveer Singh's splendid performance.

From his physical transformation for the role, to his commanding dialogue delivery to his eventual emotional meltdown in the climax, Ranveer Singh has clearly given all that he has for this part.

The actor himself as admitted that there were moments in the film where he too was overwhelmed by the impact of his own work. Singh, who decided to stay away from the monitor through most of the film's making, saw many of the scenes for the first time in the final cut.

At a time when all newcomers were modelling themselves on Hrithik Roshan's intense voice and expressions, Ranveer Singh went against the template...

This is Ranveer Singh's biggest moment of glory and the buzz is only growing as everybody looks towards the awards season which is likely to be dominated by a certain Peshwa warrior in the Best Actor category.

A self-confessed fan of hard-core commercial cinema, Ranveer Singh has had four eventful years in BTown, where he has steadily transitioned from being a promising face to a bankable star.

Exactly five years ago, in the winter of 2011, a small gem of a film released minus much hype but won hearts all over in a matter of days, only to find a permanent place in almost everyone's must-watch list. That gem was Band Baaja Baaraat.

I remember walking into the film with limited expectations. If at all there was anyone who I had placed my bets on, it was leading lady Anushka Sharma, who had already displayed immense range in her then two-film-old career. But nothing could have prepared me for what was about to unfold. Few minutes into the film, the lanky, average-looking leading man, who till then hadn't made much of an impression on the posters, lazily stretched his arms in the sunlit-frame and voila! A star was born.

Shot in and around DU's campus hangouts, the "Tarkeebein" track was not only his introductory song but also a showcase for the debutant's effortless ease in front of the camera. Then came another crunch-test... dialogue delivery. At a time when all newcomers were modelling themselves on Hrithik Roshan's intense voice and expressions, Ranveer Singh went against the template and presented a protagonist like we had never seen before. There were no grand shots, designer costumes or lengthy dramatic one-liners. Instead here was a hero who dressed in regular denims and spoke in campus-speak, smoothly mouthing the slang used by India's youngistan. Be it the way he pronounced business as "binnes" or struggled in his search for English-sounding names for his own venture after separating from "Shutti" (his way of pronouncing Anushka's character Shruti), Ranveer's natural Delhi accent (despite being a Bandra boy) and the relatable naughtiness charmed one and all.

Growing a pony tail, sporting a moustache and completely transforming himself for the part, Ranveer Singh actually lived the character of Bajirao for more than a year...

Band Baaja Baaraat worked and expectedly, Ranveer Singh conquered all the Best Debut awards that year. Aditya Chopra's gamble on an unconventional fresh face had paid off and the banner repeated the winning team of BBB for Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl. A slick but underrated romantic-thriller, the film featured Ranveer Singh in a suave and stylish urban avatar. But the sincere performance lost out due to comparisons with BBB and was somewhat overshadowed by a fiery debutante (Parineeti Chopra) who came out of nowhere (pretty much like Ranveer) and walked away with the film. Audiences rated Ranveer and Anushka's nok-jhok in BBB above their sizzling romance in LVRB.

Around the same time the actor was battling perception issues in the media, as his energetic enthusiasm was being viewed by some as overconfidence. But with a sound head, Singh pretty much remained unaffected and focussed all his energies towards his work. In 2013 he bounced back and silenced all his critics with a knockout performance in Lootera. The critical nod was there, but the mass hysteria of BBB was still a while away.

That adulation came with Sanjay Leela Bhansali's terrific take on Romeo and Juliet, Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela. Ranveer's transformation from the lean Bittoo to the shirtless muscle-man Ram and that signature "Tattad Tattad" step became all the rage. His raw and passionate chemistry with Deepika Padukone was a marked change from the vulnerability of his earlier characters. This was a Ranveer Singh who was totally out there, owning every moment on screen. The film was a huge hit and Ranveer quickly followed it up with yet another brawny, intense, rough character in Aditya Chopra's Gunday.

A throwback to the masala-potboilers of the 70s, Gunday provided him ample scope to display his "herogiri" and Ranveer did not disappoint. Giving the brooding edginess a break, the actor followed it up with a difficult but sadly under-watched performance in Shaad Ali's Kill Dil. Playing an unkempt small-time sharp shooter who decides to change his ways and upgrade his standard of living for the sake of his posh girlfriend, Ranveer was extremely convincing in communicating his dilemma. From his inability to fi -in among a crowd of polished bankers and lawyers, to his attempts to pick up SMS lingo like LOL and ROFL, this was one of Ranveer's most sincere performances.

From Bittoo to Bajirao, Ranveer Singh has grown into a complete performer.

In Dil Dhadakne Do, Ranveer brilliantly underplayed a potentially dramatic part and made us really feel the confusion caused by his hyper family members. And then of course... How can you forget that spontaneous (literally) miss-if-you-blink appearance in Finding Fanny? Away from his films, the actor was even winning laurels for making brave choices in brand endorsements and his quirky commercials. Acing the social media space, Ranveer was quick to grasp the potential of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, reaching out to his fans with creative picture posts and videos.

All this was gradually leading to a game-changing moment in his filmography that was to happen in his biggest challenge ever. Growing a pony tail, sporting a moustache and completely transforming himself for the part, Ranveer Singh actually lived the character of Bajirao for more than a year, not only in reel but even in real life.

In an industry where fortunes change every Friday, Ranveer Singh today is being compared to some of the biggest stars. From Bittoo to Bajirao, Ranveer Singh has grown into a complete performer. Be it a Dubsmash on your mobile screen, a noodles ad on the telly or a big ticket blockbuster, the actor has cleverly married his talent and stardom promising a package of entertainment in whatever he does.

It's an enviable position to be in, and I think this warrior (which incidentally is also the meaning of his name Ranveer) has only just begun.

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