Ranveer Singh as Allauddin Khilji in Padmaavat Image: YouTube/ T-Series
"Be careful what you wish for. I wanted to play an antagonist and I got the most evil one ever," Ranveer Singh, quintessentially quirky with megatons of energy even at midnight after a day-long shoot, said about his role of Alauddin Khilji in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat. He sat down with T2 Online and spilled the deets regarding his experience of playing the cruel, megalomaniac Sultan — and how at one point, he got into the character so intensely, he thought he was losing his marbles.
In Ranveer's own words, he thoroughly enjoyed playing the darkest character of his career so far that is creating a lot of Khalibali in everyone’s hearts. While he is known to carry all the characters he plays close to his heart, Baba doesn’t want to step into Khilji mode ever again.
“I had poured so much into the character, and the last 47 days were so hard on me. For the first time I think, I let a character go immediately, that he didn’t even stay with me overnight. I conditioned myself to do that because it was such a tunnel, you know. I was building myself up to the point where I wouldn’t have to do this (play Khilji) anymore. And, the minute they called wrap and we cut the cake, we all rejoiced. I was never Alauddin for even a second (after wrap-up). I can’t say that for any other character. It always takes time (to let go),” said Ranveer.
However, shoot days were pretty difficult. “During and between shoot days, I was shooting from 9am to 9pm, and after that there used to be the hangover. Like until 4-5am in the morning, I was still reeling under what I had done. Even between shoot days, those waves of thoughts would suddenly come up and it was damn hard to snap out of it. I was constantly experiencing a character hangover to the point I thought I was losing myself to this character. And that was very scary for me,” added Ranveer with furrowed eyebrows.
Our on-screen Khilji started thinking so much like the tyrant he portrayed on screen that a strange incident almost made him feel like Alauddin in real life. “I really thought I was going crazy. I felt like I was losing my marbles. A really strange incident happened off camera, on the set. Somebody made a mistake and I turned towards that person and I was gonna attack, physically assault that person as Alauddin Khilji. I was like, ‘Wait, wait, wait, a second. This is not f***ing real. This sh** is going deep down.’ Because, suddenly my instinctive reaction was that of the character’s and not mine," he revealed.
What made it all darker and lonelier was Ranveer's creative process for the role. He said, "The thing was I had isolated myself during the shooting process as well. I was going to the set in the morning, playing Alauddin all day and then sleeping whenever I slept. And going and being Alauddin again. Doing that for enough days on end, too much of it for too long, I was suddenly generating ill-feelings, harbouring negative and evil thoughts.”
But then, there was another weird occurence that forced Ranveer to look at himself in the mirror (quite literally), only to realise how deeply engrossed he was in his character, someone he had read too much about.
“Once, I looked into the mirror and I had an outer body experience. I was thinking certain things, I was alone at home and I happened to walk by a mirror and there was this look on my face and I couldn’t recognise myself. I had never seen my face look like that. It was really strange,” he says.
To step out of that dark zone, he thought of reconnecting with his identity and behave more like himself. “I thought I was going mad, and I realised it was only because I wasn’t doing enough ‘Ranveer things’ (*winks*). So, I started calling my mum and telling her and my best friends how I am feeling. And, they started coming home after I came home from work and started spending three-four hours with me, talking. And that was helpful."
Talking about how he finally regained his sanity and struck a balance, Ranveer said, "I was able to talk to them, they were able to talk to me and counsel me. And, we talked about normal sh** like, ‘How’s nani? What’s happening with my cousins?’ ‘What’s happening with Arsenal?’ But, I am blessed that I have such a support system and that helped me in not going completely off the handle."
Ranveer’s portrayal of Khilji is being applauded by fans and critics alike. But when we asked Ranveer if he’s open to playing more characters from history books, his immediate response was — “Historical? Yes! Dark? I am not sure.” Why? “Only because, it was really hard man. I don’t think it is healthy to play that part anymore.”
And we couldn't agree more. After all, who doesn’t remember Heath Ledger losing himself to the Joker? And, of course, we wouldn't want something like that happening to Ranveer. He should just keep entertaining us with Ranveer things.