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'Ranbir said, 'Yaar, what a shot you just gave!''

Last updated on: January 17, 2024 11:31 IST
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'Ranbir helped me a lot with emotions and dialogues. As an actor, he makes us very secure.'

'He guides us with his experiences. He makes the work really, really easy and wonderful for his co-stars.'

As Animal roared to blockbuster success, many careers are enlivened with the film's mad craze.

Jammu-based Manjot Singh Royal, who plays one of Ranbir Kapoor's many cousins in the film, thinks that Animal has given him his identity.

The two films-old Punjabi actor had a brief role, but it made a dramatic impact and hooked the audience to the spiffy, brawny Sardar gang he was a part of.

"Sandeep sir (Reddy Vanga, director) said, "'I don't see Sardars as comic characters. I see them as one of the most heroic communities.' He has that mindset; he has a huge respect for Sikh beliefs," Manjot tells Mayur Sanap/

How has life changed after Animal?

I was a struggling actor before Animal and I'm still a struggling actor.

But I see Animal as this beautiful, amazing, opportunity that was given to me. Wherever I go, people recognise me now.

Animal gave me my identity.

I have some hope that I will get good work now.

What do your family and friends think of you now?

I just have telephonic reactions because I haven't been home since the film released.

My tayaji was slightly angry; he said the movie is like this and that. He had called me in the interval.

At the end of the movie, I got a call again and he said there is a huge lesson in the movie and he will watch it again.

I am from Jammu where there is not so much exposure to such straightforward content.

Everyone was praising the movie once they understood the theme and moral of the story.

My friends and family are very supportive.

Did you expect this kind of recognition? Tell us about your memorable fan interaction.

I went into a store recently to shop for this big brand.

I collected some stuff and went to the billing counter. The salesman came to me and said, 'I am your biggest fan', and I clicked a photograph with him.

When I was going to pay for my stuff, he added his employee discount to my purchase.

It was lovely how he showed his gesture this way.

How did you land the film offer?

I did a Punjabi film called Mera Vyah Kara Do, directed by Sunill Khoslaji.

After that, COVID hit us and everything went down.

I started pursuing my MTech at that time, but was also giving auditions.

I was in Delhi when I got a call for Animal. A ticket was sent to me by T-Series (the production company) and to all other actors who were shortlisted.

We came to Mumbai and gave the audition.

I gave my audition in the presence of Sandeep (Reddy Vanga) sir, and he selected me.

Out of 20 people, 10 of us were selected for the role of cousins.

Tell us about the audition process.

Sandeep sir gave us a scene. It's a scene when Ranbir Kapoor comes to Pind.

He has not seen us for 35 years, and suddenly he comes up to our doorstep, asking for such a big favour. How do you react to that?

That was our main brief for the audition.

He used some of the Punjabi lines from our audition in the movie.

Vivek Sharma, who plays Pali, said in the audition: 'Rishtein banana aisa hai jaise mitti par mitti se mitti likhna, aur nibhana aisa hai jaise paani par paani se paani likhna.'

Sandeep sir used that line as it is.

When did you get to know that the film stars Ranbir Kapoor in the lead?

I got to know about it pretty late.

When T-Series called me, I think there was network issue or something, so I didn't catch much about the project.

I just got the ticket and I was like, 'Okay, let's go to Bombay.'

When I was sitting in the conference room, when I saw other actors. I was like, 'Okay, I have to compete with these guys.'

I was the first one who was called for the audition.

That's when I learned that Ranbir sir is leading the film and Sandeep sir is directing.

Any memorable incident from the shoot that you will cherish?

I experienced the greatest moment when we shot the Arjan Vailly song.

The fighting sequence was going to be shot next after the song shoot was over.

I gave the shot and was standing there. I see RK (Ranbir) from a distance, waving his hand at me. He said, 'Royal, come here.'

He told me, 'Yaar, what a shot you just gave!'

He praised me for the Pind scene too, and the post credit scene.


Is it true that Sandeep Reddy Vanga is a hard taskmaster?

No, no, no. (Laughs)

Sandeep sir is very cool, very focused.

There were times when he would sit and laugh with us. And sometimes, he would just pass without saying anything.

There are always lot of things going on in his head.

Two weeks before we shot Arjan Vaily song, he told me, 'I'm giving you a blockbuster song, you better learn it by heart.'

He briefed me about everything very well.

Again, during the post credit scene where Ranbir and I are in the frame, he said there should be no fear in my eyes.

Ranbir also helped me a lot with emotions and dialogues. As an actor, he makes us very secure.

He guides us with his experiences. He makes the work really, really easy and wonderful for his co-stars.

In the very first glimpse of Animal, in the pre-teaser video, it was you who we saw first even before Ranbir Kapoor appears on screen. That was a quite an introduction for you as actor, don't you think?

Yeah, you're right. I was the first face of Animal.

I remember the day it was launched.

We were shooting the church scene in Mumbai. Sandeep sir called us and showed us the teaser on his phone and asked, 'What do you think?'

I was completely shocked to see myself because I was expecting Ranbir sir to be the one we are looking at.

There was this tight close up on my face and everything. I was like, 'Wow!'

I can't express it in words, yaar. That was an amazing feeling.

The song Arjan Vailly became such a rage after that video. What does this war cry mean to you? As a Sikh, do you feel represented?

This song is called as Dhadi-Vaar in Punjabi. Our sixth Guru Sri Guru Hargobind Sahibji introduced this type of singing.

In this kind of song, singers sing poems in some raags that help us get our blood boiling.

In this movie, the brothers are just standing back and singing it.

There's a dialogue of Ranbir sir when he comes to Pind. He says that he wants honsla (courage) from his brothers. And that's what we are doing in that song.

One of the most talked about aspects of Animal is the action. How challenging was to shoot those scenes as they looked pretty intense on screen?

It wasn't that challenging for us.

We saw Ranbir sir practice a lot because his moves were so complicated and intense.

But when he was shooting for it, he made it look so easy. Not just him, but the entire team prepared for it so well.

They were practicing every day for 20 to 25 days only for these actions sequences. It was amazing to watch all that.

What was your least favourite part?

Well, it was a very difficult shoot for me physically.

For that post credit scene, I was on my knees on a marble (floor), on one particular mark for a long, long time. I couldn't wear knee pads for some reasons, so my knees were paining.

Then I had a tape on my mouth. Sandeep sir himself tied the tape on my mouth taking care of my turban.

He knew I don't cut my hair or beard, so he said, 'Give it to me.' He gently double folded it and then applied some oil and moisturiser so that it won't hurt me.

He is the kind of guy who has that respect for the turban and for someone's religious beliefs.

Years before Animal happened, you did a heroic act by saving the life of a girl. That video went viral recently. Tell usabout that incident.

It was in 2019 when I was pursuing BTech in Delhi.

I went for some snacks in the university canteen, which was on the sixth floor.

I was sitting next to a window when I saw a girl sitting on the parapet of a bridge. It was very disturbing for me.

I went there and started talking to her. She kept saying, 'Don't come close to me or I'll jump.' I didn't know what to do.

Something in my head clicked and I just climbed that fence. I told an onlooker to distract her. But the moment I ran towards her, she jumped. I don't know how but I was able to catch her.

I think I was on the right place at the right time.

Did you share this incident with Ranbir or Sandeep?

I talked about this with Sandeep sir, not with RK.

Is it tough for Sikh men to get meaty roles in Bollywood as they tend to get stereotyped?

My roles are limited. Any actor can play a Sikh man, but I can't play a non-Sikh role.

I was asked by some production houses and directors to trim my beard.

This is one big disadvantage.

But Sandeep sir showed us in a way that we have never been seen in Bollywood.

On the first day, we were on a conference call when one of us asked him, 'Sir, how do you want us to play this character? In a comic way?'

He said, 'No, I don't see Sardars as comic characters. I see them as one of the most heroic communities.'

He has that mindset; he has a huge respect for Sikh beliefs.

There were so many on the sets when he would come to us and ask us if he can do a certain thing in a certain way. He was so concerned about our beliefs.

He used to interact with us and gather more information about any (possibly) controversial shot.

After Animal, I think people have a new vision towards Sardar actors.

Are you disappointed with your character's fate in the end of Animal? Now we won't see you in Animal Park.

(Laughs) I met Sandeep sir at the success party and asked him if there's something for me (in the sequel), and he just said, 'Dekhte hain (Let's see).'

So yeah, I am hoping that I get a call for Animal Park.

When I was called for this scene in Mumbai, I was told that 'Okay, you're gonna die today.'

There wasn't even a second of disappointment.

I quickly understood the scene and how important it was to the story.

I also have full trust in Sandeep sir. He said your character will give that effect.

I even jokingly asked Saurab (Gupta), our writer, to somehow save my character.

I was saying Nana Patekar sir's dialogue on sets, 'Yeh aa gaye meri maut ka tamasha dekhne.'

We were laughing on sets.

How do you plan to take your journey ahead after this?

I would love to lead a movie or a Web series.

I want to be in a good projects to take this image forward.

I know these are big talks, but I really want to do that.

Any character that is given to me, I would play it with conviction.

Are there any film-makers on your wishlist?

Imtiaz Ali sir.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali sir.

Sandeep sir again, for sure.

A lot of directors, yaar. There are a lot of amazing directors.

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