When an unknown, unsung, scruffy bloke playing a chaalu, loud, street-smart, dramabaaz wedding planner burst upon the screen almost a decade ago, we were struck by the raw, uninhibited energy he unleashed. Many too were convinced that he was actually a Panju, living in the seamier side of Delhi, when he actually is a Sindhi living in Mumbai. Over time – and several films – Ranveer Singh made it known that he was very serious about the job at hand and consequently moved, slowly but surely, one among the many competitors seeking his very own place in the sun. The turbo-charged energy remained a constant, but alongside dwelt the desire to experiment, take risks (along with a leap of faith) into unchartered territories, come what may. Lootera was an answer to that yearning and a small demo of his abilities to push the envelope, if and when required. Clearly – to the perceptive – RS was a lambi race ka ghoda!
It, however, fell upon Sanjay Leela Bhansali to provide this restless and hungry young talent the launching pad that would zoom him up. Ram Leela, Bajirao Mastani and 2018’s mega hit Padmavat categorically proved that Ranveer Singh was indeed special. Playing storm-centre [with lady love Deepika Padukone in his arms] in all three of the showman director’s trademark extravaganzas – replete with larger-than-life, glossy, glitzy, visually splendid and spectacularly mounted projects – he didn’t miss a beat anywhere. Special mention is demanded of his playing the villainous and negative Khilji, which he pulled off in such a startling manner that it enthralled and enraged in one fell swoop! Alongside was Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadakne Do which set sail with a terrific ensemble cast. Even here, Ranveer did manage to be impressibly visible. Not one who is willing to wound but afraid to strike Ranveer’s recent Simba (a completely different genre) was a box-office smash, smashing all the three Khan’s movies – SRK’s Zero, Aamir’s TOH and Salman’s Race 3 – out of the park! In an industry where numbers matter, box office is God and talent is connected to marketability, Ranveer seems to have identified and hit the sweet spot and rock! However, it is his latest movie Gully Boy that has done the impossible: Got even the most hard-boiled, cynical, khussad and snooty critics to agree with the masses that both the film and its leading man are pitch perfect!
Variously described as a “masterpiece, cult classic, great cinema, blow-out stuff”, this Valentine’s Day release has already kissed the Rs 80 crore mark and counting in its very first week…More importantly, it seems to have connected, both at an entertaining and visceral level with the audiences. Inspired by the lives of Mumbai Street rappers Vivian Fernandes [Divine] and Naved Shaikh [Naezy] around the underground rap movement, the film is superbly shot, designed to accentuate the pulse of the city, weaving a story of dreams and aspirations residing in the underbelly of Mumbai. Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti’s powerful script and the former’s deft direction powered by a superbly accomplished ensemble cast, lends power and purpose to this remarkable film, as does Alia Bhatt’s brief but brilliant cameo. However, everything considered, it is Ranveer Singh’s Murad that sears the senses! A planet away from his comfort zone, he takes the disruption route – as an actor – and pulls out the stops to live the role. As a miserable disfranchised resident of the largest chawl in Asia – Dharavi – strangulated by a dysfunctional family with nothing to fall back on except his dreams to be a rap star, the actor explodes a well nourished myth: Acting needs an intellectual edge. It doesn’t!
An actor doesn’t need to understand – in a conventional way – what he is doing. He just has to do it. Here one has to make the distinction between direction that produces behaviour and direction that produces intellectual understanding. The latter is absolutely useless. Many directors will talk for hours about the meaning of a scene and never direct behaviour. The actor only needs to understand the linear truth that is to be played out against an imaginary set of circumstances, because all acting comes from wanting something. It’s – ultimately – what you want that prompts action, not what you think! In this critically sensitive space, the collaboration between Zoya and Ranveer has been near perfect. Finally, it’s not every day that people who are not wild about Bollywood, have put their hands up to root for it. Zoya’s gutsy move to celebrate rap – by no means a popular music form – by making it both palatable and enjoyable, every single actor’s meaningful contribution and finally the jewel in the crown, Ranveer Singh’s incredible performance totally allows the Gully Boy and his gang to transit from apna time aayega to apna time aa gaya!