Ranveer Singh is confident his 'Jayeshbhai Jordaar' will win hearts

Bollywood actor's social comedy comes with a strong message of female empowerment


Ambica Sachin

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Published: Thu 12 May 2022, 9:53 PM

Last updated: Thu 12 May 2022, 10:14 PM

It’s easy to get distracted by all the razzmatazz and flamboyance surrounding Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh.

But hardcore fans will vouch that beneath the disco pants and loud prints lies an artist with a chameleon-like ability to transform himself into various characters, be it the love-stuck conman in Lootera, the angst-ridden hip-hop artist in Gully Boy, or the fierce and villainous Khilji in Padmaavat.

His latest movie Jayeshbhai Jordaar, directed by debutant filmmaker Divyang Thakkar, is no different, showcasing him as the titular Jayesh, the timid son of an overpowering Gujarati Sarpanch who turns into an fierce champion for women empowerment in their small town. Tamil and Telugu actress Shalini Pandey also marks her Hindi film entry with Yash Raj Films’ new social comedy that drops in UAE cinemas on May 13.

Ahead of the release of the movie, City Times caught up with the man of the moment over the phone who makes it clear he would rather let his work speak for itself than talk about it!

The response to the trailer of Jayeshbhai Jordaar has been phenomenal. Besides the commercial consideration, does the response of the audience truly matter to you at this stage of your career?

(Laughter) Yes and no… How do I answer this! It is a very complex question that you have asked me!

If I’m not mistaken Johnny Depp is one actor who after performing in the film doesn’t even want to watch it, let alone worry about how people are receiving it at the time of the release. At this stage I haven’t evolved that much so it definitely matters to me how people are receiving the work.

I certainly have reached a place in life where regardless of the way it is received, I’m still extremely and overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity to act and explore my creativity, to play characters and do what I do for a living. I love my job and my focus is just performing in those films and fulfilling my desire of being a performer.

Of course the only purpose is not to fulfill my destiny and indulge my artistic side. I’m doing this to entertain people.

So how people see the film and whether or not they are entertained, whether the film is able to evoke an emotion out of them, these things do matter to me, most certainly.

You have made a career out of playing loud characters be it Band Baaja Baaraat, Bajirao Mastani, Padmaavat or Simmba. Even in your real life you seem so hyper! So tell us how does Ranveer Singh relax?

I completely disagree with your reading and analysis of the characters that I have played or my public persona for that matter. I think it is completely inaccurate.

In my third film itself, Lootera, I was very understated, and that was almost 10 years ago. The characters you have pointed out are not loud characters. There are some films that are pitched higher and there are some that are pitched lower. There have been movies like Dil Dhadakne Do and Gully Boy, which I have pitched very differently, from say a Simmba.

I’m really grateful that audience have always accepted me in all kinds of roles, and that I have been able to learn and make my directors proud. As for relaxing, I take time out each night to spend with myself, and my thoughts. I do a daily process of unwinding.

Jayeshbhai Jordaar is a social comedy. Was it challenging to maintain a fine balance between both the genres and not go over the top in either direction?

That is the potency of the script. I was quite astonished, at how Divyang Thakkar was able to deliver such a moving in a humorous and emotional way. That’s why I loved it and wanted to be a part of it. If you have a social message embedded in your film, if it is put out in an entertaining way then you may be able to get to people’s hearts and not just their minds.

I’ve always been a fan of Rajkumar Hirani’s films; he always has a message in them and we are thoroughly entertained by them as well.

I’m inspired by Charlie Chaplin who is the pioneer of tragic humour in cinema in a way. I always narrate this one instance from a movie where he is trying to steal bread from a shop and gets caught. If you peel away one layer of humour, what is happening is actually very tragic. There’s one quote of his that always remains with me, ‘To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it.’

That’s why I believe tragic humour is so potent.

You have proved yourself as a versatile actor over the years with every project you have taken on. But we are more interested to know what makes Ranveer Singh say no to a movie?

I have actually said no to about 25 movies in the past 2-3 months. I’m looking for something that grabs me so strongly that my instinctive reaction should be that, yeah, I want to do this. I’m not going to jump into anything unless it arrests me immediately and completely.

Jayeshbhai Jordaar handles the controversial subject of sex determination, which shows a woman has no control over her own body. In the West currently there is a raging debate on women’s right to abortion. As a male actor do you find it ironic that in Jayeshbhai Jordaar, it is the man who has to fight to give agency to the woman over her own body?

Jayesh is protective of his wife and of his girl child against the patriarchies of society, and what is wonderful about him is that he will go to any length to protect them. He feels the pressure of society and he is powerless but something happens which changes him. If you are able to connect with the arch of this character, every woman in the country is going to want someone like Jayesh in their lives, somebody who is protective of them and do whatever he can to back the women in his life and empower them. They will shower me with a lot of love for having played Jayesh.

How do you ensure the lines between reel and real don’t blur for you. How do you avoid getting distracted by all the razzmatazz around your personality, especially during a movie’s promotions?

There was a time when I was sort of straying in the sense that I was involving my time, energy and effort into all the auxiliary stuff, and it was very counter productive. Fortunately I had angels around me who protected me. I had my family, my wife, my best friends, my team - they always kept me from falling or going down the wrong path. There was a time in between when I used to engage with all the starry stuff more than the acting stuff until I had this great big realisation of how I was deviating from the actual course. This was about 6 or 8 years ago.

Ever since I know what my primary endeavour is, which is to act in films, to create distinctive characters and perform with some degree of truth and authenticity between action and cut. The only time that actually matters is the time between action and cut. Nothing else matters.

I’ve always made a conscious effort to dedicate my time, energy and effort towards developing and nurturing and cultivating the artist and the actor. The star is the by product when I became famous. I became a star because I am a good actor and not the other way around.

I know what is of paramount importance to me and I never compromise on that. There have been instances where I’ve observed that a lot of the time and energy of some of my peers/colleagues are devoted to engaging in the star status. They are not really making any effort to nurture themselves as performers; they are doing quite the opposite. With experience I understand the trappings and pitfalls associated with this. Of course, some times the noise can get loud, and it can distract you from your work. But it is a mere distraction. You have to be cognizant of that and then refocus on what’s important.

There is nothing more important to me than the film, or the character.

I love meeting people, I love entertaining people, I try and find my joy in it, but in general I feel that movie promotions have become too expensive. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t do it. I always say I want to act in the film and not have to go out and sell it. If I have to do it then I’m going to do a damn good job of it because I don’t do half measures…

Quite honestly I would much rather do the work, than talk about doing the work.

Jayeshbhai Jordaar is out in UAE cinemas from May 13

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