Ranveer Singh
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Ranveer: I'm not into one-upmanship games..

By HT

New Delhi, Jan. 29 -- Although many advised him against playing an anti-hero part, Alauddin Khilji, in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmaavat, Ranveer Singh decided to "follow his instincts". 
 
Now, as he gets rave reviews for his outing as the merciless ruler, the actor admits that it was a "risk" and that it was a "dangerous" part. "But the kind of response that the film is getting is very heartening," says Ranveer, as he talks about playing Khilji and more. 
 
Right at the start, when you were offered Alauddin Khilji's part, were you afraid? 
 
Yes! When I read it, I was very apprehensive, especially for a particular reason - I had understood that to play this character, I would have to tap into some really deep, dark recesses of my conscience that could have been buried under some deep layers in my own conscience. And I wasn't very well prepared for it. I wasn't in such a space at all when the film was offered to me. So, I was a little scared of doing it because I knew, 'Agar main isme ghusunga toh lamba ghusunga aur [yeh] dangerous hai'. I expressed my apprehension to Sanjay sir too, but I can never say no to him, so, I went for it. Also, a number of people felt that a 'hero' shouldn't play the anti-hero. But I took it up as a challenge. I went with Sanjay sir's and my instinct. We worked tirelessly on the character for over two years. It was a big risk but it's wonderful to see my gamble pay off. Such validation also gives me confidence to take bigger risks, challenge stereotypes and push the envelope further. 
 
Apparently, you got emotionally affected with the part. True? 
 
I discovered that the trouble was I was only doing this. So, I was shooting the film and going back to my gufa (den) while being Khilji all day. Not neutralising it was a big problem because it was taking a toll on me. Sometimes, off camera, I'd have evil thoughts and negative feelings towards people, and I had to stop and protect myself by neutralising. I spoke to my family and friends, who are my first aid jab mere dimag ya zehen mein chot lagti hai. Fortunately, the first aid worked and I didn't have to go to a doctor (smiles). But it's true that I was going a bit crazy in between (laughs). 
 
But now, you must be really thrilled?
 
You know, as much as it affected me emotionally and mentally, I have also come out feeling lighter. It is rare and overwhelming to see such a great response to performances and the film. I am filled with gratitude, which leads to a desire to express and spread more affection and love. Whenever I get something from God, I feel like giving back. 
 
Did it help to have Bhansali at the helm of affairs ? 
 
Yes, in Bajirao Mastani (2015), he was very hands off but this time, he was very hands on, so it's a very fulfilling experience now that the film has got a release and the kind of things people are saying about my performance and the response that I am getting. God knows I had my share of struggles while I was doing it but today, I feel very satisfied, and above all, I am happy for Mr Bhansali as he is the one who had the vision and fought for it. 
 
During the making as well as in the runup to the film's release, talks were rife about screen space that you, Deepika and Shahid would get and how there was some sort of rivalry going on. 
 
It's not a notion I subscribe to and it's not my approach. Ihave a theatre background, and the first thing you do while studying acting in theatre is trust exercises. For me, it's important to be connected to, and support your co-actors. I have done films like Gunday (2014) and Dil Dhadakne Do (2015). I have done two-hero as well as ensemble films. I am not into any one-upmanship game. My approach is very different. In fact, I am very happy that people are talking about my track with Jim Sarbh as he is a special actor. In fact, I had suggested his name to Sanjay sir.