Ranveer Singh, wearing a black-and-white monogrammed biker’s jacket over a black tee and bright red Adidas tracks, came dancing into Enigma at the Marriott. It had been decorated for Christmas. With a Santa Claus and Christmas tree beneath which gift-wrapped presents lay strewn. Fairy lights everywhere. There were huge posters of Simmba too. And he fitted in perfectly with the festive spirit. I heard him coming. A boom box that he carries around blasting the music of a forthcoming film. Then he was there. Pirouetting gracefully on track-shoed feet. Dark eyes darting mischievously around the room from behind huge Gucci sunglasses made popular by Elvis. Looking everywhere for his gorgeous co-star Sara Ali Khan. She had made a less spectacular entry earlier. Smiling shyly and greeting me with a namaste. Her tall, slim and gym-toned figure sheathed in a River Island tiger print suit, the long hair done up in soft curls and propped up by a headband. They have been doing interviews all this week for the Rohit Shetty-directed action film that releases tomorrow.
Ranveer plays a cop in Simmba. Sara’s role is still under the wraps. Enough is known about the film. Rohit has pulled out all the stops in his promos, trailer and interviews. He told me, “I am not one of those directors who likes to keep his audience in the dark.” I admire his sagacity and confidence. It leaves the audience in the position of a discerning diner ordering the popular signature dish of a master chef at a fine dining restaurant; they know what to expect but that knowledge only serves to whet their appetite.
Since it is a cop film, I thought PeepingMoon.com ought to put real policewallah questions to Ranveer and Sara. Excerpts from our chat:
Q: What are the most iconic cop roles you remember from cinema?
Ranveer: It’s got to be (Ajay Devgn) Singham. But there are a lot more. There’s Mr. Amitabh Bachchan in Zanjeer, of course. And, and there is…
Sara: Chulbul Pandey (Salman Khan in Dabangg)…
Ranveer: Sure… but for me, personally, it’s got to be Singham.
Q: Every kid dreams of becoming a cop…
Ranveer: Yeah, because when you’re in the building compound in the evening you’re play-acting Chor-Police and there used to be a fight over who would be the police. But now… I was discussing with Mr. Sanjay Leela Bhansali and his sister (Bela Segal) once… in the day and age we live in, it’s almost cool to be the Chor! Kids find it cooler to play the bad guy. I’ve played a lot of Chor-Police and for me most definitely it’s been a childhood dream to be an actor, to be a hero, and to play a cop. So Simmba in the true sense is a dream come true for me.
Q: What is your favourite cop film?
Sara: I think it’s between Singham and Dabangg.
Q: Not Sacred Games, the Netflix web series, in which your father Saif Ali Khan plays a Mumbai Police Inspector?
Sara: I’m very proud of the work that my father has done in Sacred Games. I don’t know much about this world, I’m very new, but I think the way he’s performed has just been spectacular. And more than that, what he was going through in terms of the box office or films or whatever… that he took up a project like Sacred Games on a digital platform is very commendable. Lot of people could have, and maybe even did, look at it as a step down. But I think my father is way above that and I’m proud of him in every way I can be.
Q: Have you ever got into trouble with the police?
Ranveer: Yeah, yeah… but not apni police.
Sara: You don’t have to elaborate.
Ranveer: Not our police, but “Kaaps” (cops in America). Kaaps, they never liked me. I got into lot of trouble with them when I was in Indiana University…
Sara: With the cops?
Ranveer: Yeah, I’m not going to tell you what trouble.
Ranveer: Kaaps! Kaaps! Kaaps!
Sangram Bhalerao Simmba is from the same universe as Bajirao Singham. But There are trappings of Chulbul, Lakhan (Anil Kapoor in Ram Lakhan), the character Amitabh Bachchan played in Shahenshah
Q: Would you rather play a Bollywood cop or Hollywood detective?
Sara: If I had the choice, then it would be here! I think I would like to be a Bollywood cop. Actually, I also want to be one.
Ranveer: Yeah? They just didn’t like me. The Kaaps! Kaaps!
Sara: I think it would be fun to play a Bollywood cop.
Ranveer: They asked me, “What are you? An Arab?” I got into a lot of trouble with the Kaaps!
Q: What kind of action do you prefer? The pre-historic sword fights of Bajirao Mastani and Padmaavat or the gritty fist and blazing gun fights of Simmba?
Ranveer: Both have their own charm. Desi action is a lot of fun to do. It’s fun to shoot action with Rohit Sir because he shoots it with such panache. Very few people do gaoti action like Rohit Shetty. So I was very lucky that I got to do Simmba with him. But I think the most memorable shooting experience of any action sequence has to be the one-on-one fight in Padmaavat. I have very vivid memories of that. It taught me a lot. And turned out to be pretty awesome. We really pushed ourselves. That’s one sequence I love to watch on screen. We really had to dig deep, Shahid and I, for that shot.
Q: What was your reaction when you were offered Simmba?
Ranveer: Rohit Sir and I did an ad. and that was the chance for me to show him ki mujhe kaam aata hai. I was basically feeling to be in his film. During the post production of that ad. when I was in the dubbing studio, he came and said, “Accha sun, mere paas ek subject hain.” I was, like, “Haan, shooting kab hain? Shooting kab hain?” I had always wanted to do this genre. But not just do it, it was very important that I do it with Rohit Shetty because I think he’s the benchmark. Really, he’s the King of this genre. He can’t be touched in this space. So when the opportunity presented itself, I just jumped onto it.
Q: What was your reaction on being offered Simmba opposite Ranveer Singh?
Sara: Say that again! Say that again!! SAY THAT AGAIN!!! Huh? Really? No! Yes! Really? No! Yes! It’s true… I did feel like that!
Q. After two films in quick succession, Kedarnath and Simmba, you’re going to be at a loose end because you’ve not signed on any new film. Won’t you miss being in front of the camera?
Sara: I think about that a lot! Life has been hectic. Between shooting these two films simultaneously, promoting them simultaneously, and having them released three minutes apart, it’s been a lot. There have been moments when I’ve been very tired…
Ranveer: Imagine, Simmba hits the screens and Kedarnath is still playing…
Sara: I think it will still be playing! I’ll go to the theatre and watch both! Little here, little there. It will be a blast! It’s true, I haven’t signed anything new. And I do realise there’s going to be a void right after Simmba…
Ranveer: I came up with a new song for Sara today. Like to hear it?
Ranveer: It’s Raining Scripts, Hallelujah! It’s Raining Scripts…
Sara: No, it’s not! I was saying, there’s going to be a void. It’s been a long time that it’s just been Kedarnath and Simmba. And suddenly it’s the end of the year and there’s going to be a little bit of silence for me…
Ranveer: You don’t want to take a holiday or anything?
Sara: No yaar, I just want a third film. I want to start working.
Sara: Yeah, I want to start working right now!
Ranveer: What if you were shooting on December 29? Would you be up for it?
Sara: I would say, please, can we shoot on the 30th because I think Simmba is going to be great on 28th and we might party on 28th so 29th might be a day we ought to relax after that.
Ranveer: Realistically, say, if you get back to work on January 5?
Sara: I’m more than ready!
Ranveer: You’d start?
Sara: I’d start on January 4!
Ranveer: You don’t need a break? You’re up for it?
Sara: I just want to start working like tomorrow!
Ranveer: You want to be on a film set tomorrow?
Sara: Yes, I want to be on a film set tomorrow!
Ranveer: That’s what I like to hear. I’m proud of you because there’s no other place I’d rather be myself.
most memorable shooting experience of any action sequence has to be the one-on-one fight in Padmaavat. That’s one sequence I love to watch on screen. We really had to dig deep, Shahid and I, for that shot
Q: What have you brought to Simmba that’s different from Singham?
Ranveer: Both characters are from the same universe. And actually, for the first time in Hindi cinema, these two characters are coming together in the same film. Who else could do it but Rohit Sir? Sangram Bhalerao Simmba is from the same universe as Bajirao Singham. But it was important for me to make choices for this character that would distinguish him from all the other cop characters you’ve seen who have graced the screen. It’s not just Singham. There are trappings of Chulbul, Lakhan (Anil Kapoor in Ram Lakhan), the character Amitabh Bachchan played in Shahenshah. Hopefully, I’ve done as much as I can. It’s not for me to say. But I guess I’ll find out when I start getting feedback after the film releases.
Sara: Which is on Friday! Please see Simmba, guys… make it happen!