New Delhi: Actor Ranveer Singh says he felt pushed against the wall with the many roadblocks ahead of the release of Padmaavat and its long gestation period, a rage that propelled his portrayal of Alauddin Khilji in the film.
The film, which released on 25 January with multiple disclaimers following nationwide protests, found itself in trouble from the very beginning with its sets being vandalised twice in Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
“There was a lot of anxiety surrounding the shooting. Whatever untoward incident happened, it made me very, very angry. Ever since the first incident on the sets… I was raging from inside. But I chose not to act out in a destructive way. I channeled it and used it constructively. I put it into my performance,” the actor said.
The much-debated film is already a blockbuster and Ranveer’s portrayal of Khilji has been singled out for particular praise. More than happiness, however, Ranveer says he feels a sense of relief.
The costume drama was not easy to shoot, says the star. The many delays led to the film being shot in almost one go in 40 plus days.
“Apart from what was happening, the actual shooting process was difficult due to the delays. I was shooting for more than 40 days straight, which is unheard of in a costume drama, especially on a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. It is draining at every level, physically mentally, emotionally.”
In his previous collaborations with Bhansali, there would be a break every six to eight days so that the crew could recuperate but that was not the option this time.
“My brain had turned into mush, my body had turned into pulp, I had no feeling in my muscles. I kept pushing but physically, I was breaking. But when you have your back against the wall, you need to keep digging deeper. It was the angst that kept me going.”
While the release of Padmaavat was stalled by Rajput groups over the portrayal of queen Padmavati, post-release, the film has attracted criticism in certain quarters over the unidimensional portrayal of Khilji as an evil, imbalanced ruler, which some historians say is inaccurate.
Asked whether Khilji’s extremism was over-hyped, Ranveer said he molded himself to Bhansali’s vision of the character.
“As an actor, I need to be honest with the script. I used the script as my textbook. For the most part, I take my cues from what is written. The character that Bhansali and Prakash Kapadia created, I tried to do the best I could with it.
“In fact, I wanted to make Khilji darker and even more of an extremist. Bhansali really molded me this time. In Bajirao, he allowed me to interpret but this time he was hands-on. I built on what was written and how he directed me.”
The actor, who has collaborated with Bhansali for the third time after Ram-Leela and Bajirao Mastani, says the praise for Padmaavat is sweeter as he was not sure Khilji would be accepted.
“I feel like I am walking on clouds. There were enough people who were advising me to be careful. It is scary to take on a part like this. It is such a big risk that it can be your undoing. But I went with Bhansali’s conviction and gave my whole and soul to this part. I am just relieved that my risk has paid such dividends,” Ranveer said.