'Alia's security watched the film with us -- he belongs to the Simmba audience because he saw it multiple times and loved it.'
'After watching Gully Boy, there were tears in his eyes.'
'And he's a 120 kilo muscular guy!'
'I asked him "Kya ho gaya?"'
'He said, "Bahut achcha laga picture".'
'My takeaway from that conversation was that "Yeh toh apne logon ki picture hai, yaar".'
After the hard core masala film Simmba, Ranveer Singh shows off a different side in his new film, Gully Boy.
He is vulnerable and "emotionally naked in front of the camera."
"I can't sing to save my life! But my rapping is decent. I have given my vocals to five songs and a few poems, and it's awesome to see the tracks doing so well," Ranveer tells Patcy N/Rediff.com.
Did you expect to rap in Gully Boy?
No. It's a huge thing for me. I did my vocals for the first time ever and it is topping the charts!
So you are the new singer on the block?
I can't sing to save my life!
But my rapping is decent; the numbers indicate I'm an okay rapper.
I have given my vocals to five songs and a few poems, and it's awesome to see the tracks doing so well.
It's not popular music like Aankh Marey; it is legit hip hop music, and that is significant for underground independent music.
If a legit hip hop song can get such mainstream acceptance... that's what we hope for the sake of the scene and the rappers.
Zoya (Akhtar, director) was telling me that this film is more than her and me, it is really about the hopes and dreams of a lot of people, like those attached to the underground Hindustani hip-hop scene.
This film can be a real boost for them.
That's why they (the rapping community associated with the film) feel a sense of ownership and that's why they are feeding the film with all that love and energy.
Were you in two minds when you were asked to rap?
I wanted to, but Zoya was not sure.
She wasn't sure if I would be good enough.
She said I know you have done a little bit of crap rap at award shows and in Ladies Vs Vicky Behl.
She was unsure, so she said, 'If you are not good enough, I will not let you give the vocals.'
She wanted me to give a test.
So while I was very keen, she was unsure.
Ankur (Tewari), who has supervised the music, and Divine bhai gave me tips and it was like my rapping ka test honewala hai.
They asked me to rap and I sang Rap Meri Galli Mein.
They okayed me.
I had a lot of help. At any given point, there would be people in the studio helping me because this is my first time.
Now the songs are out there, people are liking it and they are topping the charts. That's really heartening.
What is your understanding about the hip hop scene?
Two years ago, when I signed Gully Boy, I didn't realise the scene will be what it is today. It's not only growing and evolving, but it is literally exploding.
We are on the threshold of a musical revolution.
The expression in this music is so socially relevant, I believe it's kranti!
On one hand, you have the remix culture -- and I am not dissing the remix culture, I think it is great.
There is a generation which has received joy from a certain kind of music and there is nothing wrong in another generation receiving the same kind of joy when it is repackaged.
I have benefited from it.
I love songs like Kala Chashma and Aankh Maarey. They have given me so much joy; I have partied hard to them!
I listen to them, work out on them...
At the same time, it is important for original music too for the young talent.
It is already happening, this kid from Madhya Pradesh -- Nitin Mishra -- has exploded overnight. After the asli hip hop, he is getting jobs every day.
You have watched the film. How is it?
It was a special experience, very emotional.
The film made us feel something.
If you have worked on something and still get moved by it, it is significant.
You have become a bankable star.
It is wonderful.
With the tag comes a little bit of responsibility.
Now, people believe that if your name is attached to a project and your face is on the poster, that's a promise of quality and entertainment.
People are putting their trust and money on you.
Everybody has a hard life and they are spending their hard earned money on an expensive ticket to watch you in a movie, thinking you will entertain them. Then, you bloody well deliver!
So I understand that responsibility and choosing my stories wisely.
What response have you got?
Alia's security watched the film with us -- he perhaps belongs to the Simmba audience because he saw it multiple times and loved it. I know he watches mainstream action masala films.
After watching Gully Boy, there were tears in his eyes. And he's a 120 kilo muscular guy!
I asked him 'Kya ho gaya?'
He said, 'Bahut achcha laga picture.'
My takeaway from that conversation was that 'Yeh toh apne logon ki picture hai, yaar.
The characters are very relatable because they are so grounded.
Zoya is very particular, and in the world that she created, you can almost smell Dharavi. It is amazing what she has achieved.
The film brings out your vulnerable side. Was that tough?
One has to be comfortable about revealing that side of yourself. Perhaps the only time that side comes out when you are close to people and trust them like family.
Initially, I wasn't comfortable about being that emotionally naked in front of the camera.
Zoya has the ability of peeling away layers and tapping into the real me. I think it is because of the relationship between us.
I trust her, she is more than just a film-maker to me.
She is my friend.
I have a warm and affectionate relationship with her and that's why she is able to reach that part of me.
When I work with her, I don't have any hang-ups if she cuts my hair or takes my beard off. There are no costumes. It is a real and authentic version of me.
I explored this first in Lootera and then in Dil Dhadakne Do.
I was very raw in Lootera.
I was reactive to co-actors in Dil Dhadakne Do.
In Simmba, my character got all the dialogues and action. He was driving every scene.
But this is different.
In Gully Boy, I feel happy to see that I have come a long way and have learned a few things along the way.
Your performance is structured by your co-actors and I had the privilege of working with outstanding actors like Alia, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Vijay Verma, Amruta Subhash and Vijay Raaz.
You will be blown away by the work they have done.
During Simmba, Deepika called you hot. What does she say about your look in Gully Boy?
She loves my looks in Zoya's films. She prefers those where I don't have inhibitions, where I don't have a beard, long hair, jackets...
After Padmaavat, you said you would not play dark characters like that again. Have you changed your mind?
Probably not. I cannot go back there.
Touch wood, I am blessed. I am going through a good time.
I am happily married.
I have been showered with a lot of love and affection from my wife.
I am in a warm and fuzzy, happy space in life.
When Khilji was offered to me, I was happy even then, but I was prepared to go down that rabbit hole.
Right now, I am not. Having done it, I know how deep and dark it is.