Ranveer Singh Bhavnani (born 6 July 1985) is an Indian actor who appears in Hindi films. The recipient of several awards, including four Filmfare Awards, he is among the highest-paid actors in the country and has featured in Forbes India’s Celebrity 100 list since 2012.
After completing a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University Bloomington, Singh returned to India to pursue a career in film. He briefly worked in advertising and made his acting debut in 2010 with a leading role in Yash Raj Films’ romantic comedy Band Baaja Baaraat. The film emerged as a critical and commercial success, earning him the Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut. He gained praise for playing a melancholic thief in the drama Lootera (2013), and established himself with his collaborations with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, beginning with the romance Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013).
Singh gained critical acclaim for portraying Bajirao I and Alauddin Khilji in Bhansali’s period dramas Bajirao Mastani (2015) and Padmaavat (2018), respectively. He won the Filmfare Award for Best Actor for the former and the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor for the latter. These along with the action film Simmba (2018), in which he played the title character, rank among the highest-grossing Indian films. He won another Filmfare Award for Best Actor for playing an aspiring rapper in Zoya Akhtar’s musical drama Gully Boy (2019). Singh is married to his frequent co-star Deepika Padukone.
Early life and education
Singh was born on 6 July 1985 into a Sindhi family in Bombay (now Mumbai), to Anju and Jagjit Singh Bhavnani. His grandparents moved to Bombay from Karachi, Sindh, in present-day Pakistan, during the Partition of India. He has an elder sister named Ritika Bhavnani. Singh is the maternal third cousin of Sonam Kapoor daughter of actor Anil Kapoor and wife Sunita Kapoor (née Bhavnani). Singh explains that he dropped his surname Bhavnani, since he felt that the name would have been “too long, too many syllables”, thus downplaying his brand as a “saleable commodity”.
Singh always aspired to be an actor, participating in several school plays and debates. Once when he had gone for a birthday party, his grandmother asked him to dance and entertain her. Singh remembers that he suddenly jumped in the lawn and started dancing to the song “Chumma Chumma” from the 1991 action film, Hum. He felt the thrill of performing and was interested in acting and dancing. However, after he joined H.R. College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai, Singh realised that getting a break in the film industry was not at all easy, as it was mostly people with a film background who got these opportunities. Feeling that the idea of acting was “too far-fetched”, Singh focused on creative writing. He went to the United States where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University.
At the university, he decided to take acting classes and took up theatre as his minor. After completing his studies and returning to Mumbai in 2007, Singh worked for a few years in advertising as a copywriter, with agencies like O&M and J. Walter Thompson. He then worked as an assistant director, but left it to pursue acting. He then decided to send his portfolio to directors. He would go for all kinds of auditions, but did not get any good opportunities, while only getting calls for minor roles: “Everything was so bleak. It was very frustrating. There were times I would think whether I was doing the right thing or not.”
Film debut and breakthrough (2010–2014)
Singh at a promotional event for Band Baaja Baaraat in 2010
In January 2010, Singh was called for an audition by Shanoo Sharma, the head of the casting division for Yash Raj Films. They informed him that it was for a lead role in their film titled Band Baaja Baaraat, a romantic comedy set in the world of wedding planning. Aditya Chopra, the vice president of the company, later saw the audition tapes on video and was impressed by Singh’s acting, and decided that he fit the part of Bittoo Sharma, the hero of the film. However, writer-director Maneesh Sharma needed some more convincing and he was called for a few more auditions over the next two weeks until the three were completely convinced of his caliber. After the two weeks of testing, Singh was confirmed for the role of Bittoo, with Anushka Sharma playing the female lead.
Singh described the role of Bittoo Sharma as a typical Delhi boy. To prepare for the role, he spent time with students at the Delhi University campus. Prior to the release of the film, trade analysts were skeptical of the film’s commercial potential, citing the middling response to Yash Raj Films’ last few productions, the lack of a male star and the fact that the female lead, Anushka Sharma, was by then an “almost-forgotten” actress. However, Band Baaja Baaraat went on to become a sleeper hit. Singh’s portrayal of Bittoo was praised, with Anupama Chopra of NDTV writing that Singh was “pitch perfect in the role of the uncouth but good-hearted small town slacker who is a bit of a duffer when it comes to matters of the heart.” The film earned approximately ₹214 million (US$3.0 million) at the domestic box office. At the 56th Filmfare Awards, Singh won the award for Best Male Debut.
Following Band Baaja Baarat, Singh signed on for Ladies vs Ricky Bahl, a romantic comedy produced by Chopra and directed by Maneesh Sharma. He played a conman Ricky Bahl who cons girls for a living but finally meets his match. The film co-starred Anushka Sharma, Parineeti Chopra, Dipannita Sharma and Aditi Sharma. According to Singh, the title character had various avatars in the film, including a chirpy, entertaining side and a sinister side. Nikhat Kazmi of The Times of India wrote, “Ranveer is, well Ranveer: your average Joe kind of hero who looks convincing enough as Sunny, Deven, Iqbal, Ricky, his sundry avatars.” Commercially, Ladies vs Ricky Bahl earned ₹370 million (US$5.2 million) domestically.[
Singh’s next release was Lootera (2013), a period romance, written and directed by Vikramaditya Motwane, and co-starring Sonakshi Sinha. An adaptation of O. Henry’s short story The Last Leaf, Lootera was critically acclaimed. Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN wrote that Singh “brings a quiet sensitivity to Varun, and occasionally a smoldering intensity. Offering a finely internalized performance, he leaves a lasting impression.” However, Lootera performed poorly at the box office.
Singh with Deepika Padukone and Sanjay Leela Bhansali at an event for Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela in 2013
Singh next starred opposite Deepika Padukone in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, entitled Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, in which he played Ram, a Gujarati boy based on the character of Romeo. Bhansali was impressed by Singh’s performance in Band Baaja Baaraat and decided to cast him for the film. Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela generated positive reviews from critics, as did Singh’s performance. Writing for India Today, Rohit Khilnani commented that “Singh has everything going for him here. His Bollywood hero entry scene lying down on a bike in the song ‘Tattad Tattad’ is outstanding. He learnt a new language to better his performance for the character Ram and it paid off. In his fourth film he has the presence of a star.” The film emerged as Singh’s biggest commercial success, with worldwide revenues of ₹2.02 billion (US$28 million). For his portrayal, he received several recognitions, including a Best Actor nomination at Filmfare.
In 2014, Singh starred as a Bengali criminal in Ali Abbas Zafar’s Gunday, alongside Arjun Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Irrfan Khan. David Chute of Variety praised Singh’s screen presence and wrote that he “tucks the movie’s center of interest under his arm and takes it with him — even though he has the could-be-thankless “good brother” role”. Also, Singh’s chemistry with Kapoor was considered by critic Rohit Khilnani to the prime asset of the film. Gunday proved to be Singh’s biggest box office opener, and eventually emerged a box-office success with a revenue of ₹1 billion (US$14 million) worldwide. After a cameo appearance in Finding Fanny, Singh starred as a gangster in Shaad Ali’s unsuccessful crime drama Kill Dil opposite Parineeti Chopra and Ali Zafar and received negative reviews.
Established actor (2015–present)
Singh at the 61st Filmfare Awards ceremony, where he won the Best Actor award for portraying Bajirao I in Bajirao Mastani (2015)
In Zoya Akhtar’s ensemble comedy-drama Dil Dhadakne Do (2015), Singh starred with Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah and Priyanka Chopra as the younger sibling of a dysfunctional Punjabi business family who aspires to become a pilot. Writing for Mumbai Mirror, Kunal Guha found Singh to be the “surprise element” of the film; he praised his “immaculate comic timing” and took note of his subtlety. Commercially, the film underperformed. He next reunited with Sanjay Leela Bhansali in the period romance Bajirao Mastani (2015), opposite Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra. He portrayed Bajirao I, for which he shaved his head and to prepare, he locked himself in a hotel room for 21 days. Raja Sen wrote that Singh “brings his character to life and does so with both machismo and grace”, and commended him for his perfecting his character’s gait and accent. The film earned ₹3.5 billion (US$49 million) to become one of the highest-grossing Indian films, and garnered Singh the Filmfare Award for Best Actor.
In 2016, Singh starred in Aditya Chopra’s comedy-romance Befikre opposite Vaani Kapoor. He played Dharam Gulati, a stand-up comic whose romantic liaisons with Kapoor’s character leads to conflict between them. Set in Paris, Befikre marked the fourth project to be directed by Chopra. Singh performed a nude scene for it, a rare occurrence in an Indian film. Jay Weissberg of Variety found the film to be an “overly energetic twist on the old friends with benefits theme” and criticised Singh’s “manic behavior”.It underperformed at the box office.
After a year-long absence from the screen, Singh portrayed Alauddin Khilji, a ruthless Muslim king, in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period drama Padmaavat (2018), co-starring Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor, which marked his third collaboration with Bhansali and Padukone. Right-wing Hindu groups speculated that the film distorted historical facts, and issued violent threats against the cast and crew. The film’s release was deferred and was allowed for exhibition after several modifications were made to it. Ankur Pathak of HuffPost criticised the film’s misogynistic and regressive themes, but praised Singh for his “astute brilliance” in depicting Khilji’s bisexuality. Rajeev Masand opined that he “plays the part with the sort of grotesque flamboyance that makes it hard to look at anyone or anything else when he’s on the screen”.Padmaavat’s production budget of ₹2 billion (US$28 million) made it the most expensive Hindi film ever made at that time. With a worldwide gross of over ₹5.7 billion (US$80 million), it ranks as Singh’s highest-grossing release and is among India cinema’s biggest grossers. He won the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor (shared with Ayushmann Khurrana for Andhadhun) and gained a Best Actor nomination at the ceremony.
Singh and Sara Ali Khan promoting Simmba in 2018
Towards the close of the same year, Singh played the titular corrupt policeman in Rohit Shetty’s action comedy Simmba, based on the Telugu-language film Temper (2015), co-starring Sara Ali Khan and Sonu Sood, which marked his first collaboration with filmmaker Karan Johar, who co-produced the film with Shetty. Despite disliking the film, Uday Bhatia of Mint credited Singh for playing his “cardboard creation” of a character with an “underlying sweetness that renders it more winsome than the humourless masculinity of Devgn’s Singham”.With worldwide earnings of ₹4 billion (US$56 million), Simmba emerged as Singh’s second top-earning Indian film of 2018.
Singh next reteamed with Zoya Akhtar in Gully Boy (2019), a musical inspired by the life of the street rappers Divine and Naezy. Singh found little in common with his character of a poor man who aspires to become a rapper, and in preparation he underwent acting workshops and spent time with both Divine and Naezy. He performed his own rap songs and was pleased that the film brought attention to India’s underground music scene. The film premiered at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival. Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter commended him for displaying a “pleasingly full emotional range that extends to drama and hip-hop” and writing for Film Companion, Baradwaj Rangan praised his ghetto accent and found his understated performance to be a “superb showreel for his range”.Gully Boy won a record 13 Filmfare Awards, and Singh received another Best Actor award.
Singh will next reprise his role as Simmba in Shetty’s action film Sooryavanshi. He will portray the cricketer Kapil Dev in 83, a sports film based on the 1983 Cricket World Cup, and the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh in Johar’s historical drama Takht, which features an ensemble cast including Kareena Kapoor, Bhatt, Bhumi Pednekar, Janhvi Kapoor and Vicky Kaushal. He has also committed to team with Yash Raj Films once again for the comedy Jayeshbhai Jordaar.
Singh and Padukone at their wedding reception in 2018
Singh began dating Deepika Padukone, his co-star in Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, in August 2012. In October 2018, the couple announced their impending marriage. The following month, they married in traditional Konkani Hindu and Sikh Anand Karaj (Singh’s paternal grandfather is Sikh) ceremonies at Lake Como, Italy.
Singh has appeared in Forbes India’s Celebrity 100 list since 2012, peaking at the seventh position in 2019. That year, the magazine estimated his annual earnings to be ₹1.18 billion (US$17 million) and ranked him as the fifth highest-paid actor in the country. He was also featured by GQ in their listing of the 50 most influential young Indians of 2017 and 2019. In 2019, India Today featured him among the nation’s 50 most powerful people.
In addition to his acting career, Singh endorses several brands, including Adidas, Head & Shoulders, Ching’s, Jack & Jones, Thums Up and MakeMyTrip. Duff & Phelps estimated his brand value to be US$63 million, in 2018, the fourth highest of Indian celebrities. In 2019, Singh launched his own record label named IncInk to promote local musicians.
|Denotes films that have not yet been released|
|2010||Band Baaja Baaraat||Bittoo Sharma||Maneesh Sharma||Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut|
|2011||Ladies vs Ricky Bahl||Ricky Bahl||Maneesh Sharma|
|2013||Bombay Talkies||Himself||Multiple||Special appearance in song “Apna Bombay Talkies”|
|2013||Lootera||Varun Shrivastav /
Atmanand “Nandu” Tripathi
|2013||Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela||Ram Rajari||Sanjay Leela Bhansali||Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Actor|
|2014||Gunday||Bikram Bose||Ali Abbas Zafar|
|2014||Finding Fanny||Gabo||Homi Adajania||Cameo|
|2014||Kill Dil||Dev||Shaad Ali|
|2015||Hey Bro||Himself||Ajay Chandhok||Special appearance in song “Birju”|
|2015||Dil Dhadakne Do||Kabir Mehra||Zoya Akhtar|
|2015||Bajirao Mastani||Peshwa Bajirao I||Sanjay Leela Bhansali||Filmfare Award for Best Actor|
|2016||Befikre||Dharam Gulati||Aditya Chopra|
|2018||Padmaavat||Alauddin Khilji||Sanjay Leela Bhansali||Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Actor
|2018||Teefa in Trouble||Himself||Ahsan Rahim||Pakistani film; special appearance|
|2018||Simmba||Sangram “Simmba” Bhalerao||Rohit Shetty|
|2019||Gully Boy||Murad Ahmed||Zoya Akhtar||Filmfare Award for Best Actor|
|2020||83||Kapil Dev||Kabir Khan||Completed|
|2020||Sooryavanshi||Sangram “Simmba” Bhalerao||Rohit Shetty||Completed|
|2020||Jayeshbhai Jordaar||Jayeshbhai||Divyang Thakkar||Post-production|
|“Asli Hip Hop”||2019||
|“Mere Gully Mein”|
|“Kab Se Kab Tak”|
|“Ek Hee Raasta”|
|“Apna Time Aayega”|
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