From his dynamic debut in Band Baaja Baarat to his numerous gritty collaborations with director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and co-star/wife Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh has carved his own multi-genre niche in Bollywood. While he also makes headlines for his hyperactive energy and bizarrely flashy wardrobe choices, Singh is all bark but also all bite in terms of his acting.
The actor is a chameleon who loves changing colours with every role, be it a mild-mannered robber in Lootera or a deranged invader in Padmaavat. Singh has had critical and commercial misfires at times, as is evident from forgettable credits in his filmography like Gunday and Cirkus. But overall, Singh has found himself playing lead and supporting parts in some of contemporary Bollywood's finest productions.
Here's a glance at Ranveer Singh in all his dramatic, comedic, and romantic glory.
Ranveer Singh was already on his way to becoming a mainstream star with his debut. But his third screen credit Lootera is the movie that allowed him to shine as a critical darling. Arguably his most understated performance, Singh shines in this period romance by Vikramaditya Motwane that takes inspiration from O Henry’s tragic short story The Last Leaf. Singh is introduced as a soft-spoken archeologist who strikes an unlikely romance with a nobleman's daughter in 1950s-era India. As the plot thickens, the protagonist's true intentions are revealed and Singh plays out his moral dilemmas in an exceptionally muted performance. Lootera is enough to disprove the cynics who feel Singh only relies on over-the-top theatrics.
Inspired by the rags-to-riches stories of Mumbai rappers Divine and Naezy, Gully Boy is a pseudo-biopic that offers a career highlight for Singh. Featuring many real-life Indian hip-hop veterans, the film is a grounded love letter to the underdog Indian MCs who have made their own mark in a country where independent music is still in a nascent stage. Singh not only experiments with the naivety and earnestness that his character Murad evokes but he also gets to rap on several songs within Gully Boy.
Collaborating with good friends like the director Karan Johar and heroine Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh seems to be in his comfort zone in Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani. But that doesn't reduce this delightful 2023 rom-com to a formulaic and lethargic effort. Instead, Johar succeeds at crafting a self-aware satire on the genre itself while unexpectedly touching on emotional undertones with a premise involving cross-cultural romances in India.
A polar opposite to Bhatt's sophisticated journalist Rani, Singh’s spoilt brat Rocky Randhawa is a likable hero. He might come off as too loud and extravagant on the surface but he harbours an emotional vulnerability that only bears testimony to Singh's praise-worthy range as an actor.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali loves revisionist histories, especially when they feature his recurring muses Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone. Singh stars as the valiant military chieftain Bajirao who ends up falling for Padukone’s charming warrior princess Mastani. Also thrown in the mix is Bajirao's own wife Kashibai, classily played to perfection by Priyanka Chopra Jonas. The ill-fated romance that ensues is worthy of catching the audience's eye, more so in the backdrop of Bhansali's quintessential tropes like grandiose set pieces, atmospheric battles, and rousing musical numbers.
Before Gully Boy, Ranveer Singh joined forces with director Zoya Akhtar for her dysfunctional family comedy-drama Dil Dhadakne Do. For a change, Singh didn't get top billing and played a supporting character, playing Anil Kapoor and Shefali Shah’s on-screen son and Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ on-screen brother. All the aforementioned actors end up delivering some of the most hilarious and snarkiest performances of their career. Singh stands out with a relatively toned-down performance, brimming with the emotional fragility of a business magnate’s spoilt yet burdened son.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s controversial and ambitiously grand reinterprets the myth of the queen Padmavati who refused to bow down to the invading ruler Allaudin Khalji in medieval India. Historical accuracy is not the concern here as Bhansali is focused on crafting the grandest sets in his career while Ranveer Singh relies on method acting to delve into the villainous frenzy of Khalji. Whether it is him dancing out power moves on the song “Khali Bali” or just terrorising everyone around him, Singh proves how compelling he can be as a villain too.
Ranveer Singh’s first film marked one of the most promising Bollywood debuts of the 2010s. This is perhaps because the streetsmart Delhi boy Bitto Sharma exemplifies a playful energy that comes so naturally to Singh. Sharing impeccable screen chemistry with Anushka Sharma as the co-lead, the duo’s misadventures offer a hilarious and insightful look at the wedding organising industry of India.
An Indianised take on the ever-tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet, real-life lovebird Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone play the ill-fated lovers. The story is set in a town plagued by two warring families that have been going at each other’s throats for more than 500 years. However, when a passionate romance brews between Ram and Leela, the repercussions are equally intense. But at least, even the pain plays out beautifully, thanks to recurring collaborator Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s eye for splendour. It is his direction and the leads’ believable romance that add depth to Ram-Leela despite it being an adaptation of a story that many already know of.
While Ranveer Singh hasn’t acted in that many remakes, his sophomore romantic-comedy Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl was directly remade from John Tucker Must Die. And yet the Indian twist to the story brimmed with originality, thanks to the quirks added by Parineeti Chopra in a standout role as one of the women betrayed by Bahl. Singh plays the titular Casanova who plays with the hearts of multiple women until they team up to take him down. This Hollywood remake might not offer Singh’s most challenging role but considering that this was his second movie, the actor is perfectly in control of his then-emerging stardom.
The Indian cricket team’s fascinating journey to winning the sport’s World Cup in 1983 makes for a cinematic underdog epic, as is evident from Kabir Khan’s ensemble drama 83. Singh leads the pack of players, donning the moustache and bravado of the team’s captain Kapil Dev. The movie’s runtime might deter some audiences but 83 is a perfect tribute to the country’s most popular sport with Singh getting to deliver some rousing monologues and display his real-life counterpart’s charismatic traits.