Ranveer Singh (born Ranveer Singh Bhavnani) is an Indian actor working in Bollywood. Born in Mumbai, India, Ranveer Singh had always wanted to be an actor since his childhood. However, during his college days he felt that the idea of acting was far-fetched and focused on creative writing. While pursuing his Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University (Bloomington), Singh again became interested in acting and after coming back to India, started auditioning for lead roles in the Hindi film industry.
In 2010, Singh auditioned for the lead role in the Yash Raj Films venture called Band Baaja Baaraat, and got selected. The romantic comedy was set in the world of wedding planning and required Singh to portray a typical Delhi guy called Bittoo Sharma. The director of the film, Maneesh Sharma, sent him to the Delhi University campus during the recce of the film, and from there Singh drew his inspiration for the character. After its release, Band Baaja Baaraat became a critical and commercial success, with Singh's portrayal of Bittoo being lauded by critics. He went on to win the Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut award at the 56th Filmfare Awards. Post Band Baaja Baaraat, Singh continued experimenting with new roles—like that of a con artist in Ladies vs Ricky Bahl (2011) and like that of a disguised robber in the critically acclaimed Lootera and signed a number of films with varied directors.
Ranveer Singh was born Ranveer Singh Bhavnani on July 6, 1985, in Mumbai, India, to Jagjit Singh Bhavnani and Anju Bhavnani. He has an elder sister named Ritika Bhavnani. His second cousins are actress Sonam Kapoor and producer Rhea Kapoor, daughters of actor Anil Kapoor and wife Sunita Kapoor; Singh is their second cousin from Sunita Kapoor's side.
Singh had always wanted to be an actor, and after joining school he started participating in the 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 Bollywood action film, Hum. He felt the thrill of performing and was interested in acting and dancing. "I always wanted to be an actor ever since I was a little kid. I knew that I had to do something related to performing arts and I enjoyed acting the most as it incorporated so many different art forms. I must say, I was a very filmy kid. I used to watch a lot of TV and get very influenced by Bollywood", he recalls. However, after he joined junior college at 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 filmy background who got the prime opportunities in Bollywood. Feeling that the idea of acting was "too far-fetched", Singh focussed on his second passion, that of creative writing. He moved to the United States to pursue his Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University, Bloomington. While there, he decided to pursue acting classes besides studying. On the first day, the instructor asked him to do an impromptu act. Singh was again convinced that performing arts and acting was what he wanted to do, and took up theatre as his minor.
After completing his studies and coming back to Mumbai in 2007, Singh worked for a few years in advertising as a copywriter, with agencies like O&M and JWT. Then he started working as an Assistant Director, but left it to pursue acting seriously. He decided to send his portfolio to directors. "My ambition was always to bag a lead role in a film and hence I refrained from doing any ads, TV serials, music videos as I felt that a fresh face always works much better. It was a gamble and I took that gamble telling myself that I will give it my all to bag a lead role", he says.
For the next three years, Singh went to producer's offices, showing his pictures and asking for work. He would go for all kinds of auditions, but did not get any good opportunities, while only getting calls for minor roles once in every four or five months. After three and a half years, finally in January 2010, Singh was called for an audition for Yash Raj Films (YRF) by Shanoo Sharma, the head of the casting division for the entertainment company. They informed him that it was for a lead role in their venture titled Band Baaja Baaraat, the film being a romantic comedy set in the world of wedding planning. Singh went to Yash Raj for his audition, and was asked to perform two scenes. Singh added, "I was surprised because I knew Yash Raj does not launch new heroes. But I knew they were legitimate and I knew this would be the biggest and most important audition I would ever be giving."
Aditya Chopra, the Vice President of YRF, 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, the director Maneesh Sharma needed some more convincing and he was called for a few more auditions over the next two weeks until they were completely convinced in his calibre. Sharma would meet him and try to analyze different facets of his personality by asking him to dance, act out emotional scenes, reading with co-actors, reading with the writer as well as camera tests. After the two weeks of testing, Singh was confirmed for the role of Bittoo, with Anushka Sharma playing the female lead. Shooting started for Band Baaja Baarat in February 2010, with a release date of December 10, 2010. Singh described the role of Bittoo Sharma as "your typical Delhi University ka launda. He is a loafer who is not interested one bit in studies. All he does is fool around with his friends in and around college and do a lot of awaragardi. He is a very chilled out guy full of masti who has no worry whatsoever about his future or career." When Sharma was narrating the script to him, Singh had already decided how he wanted to play the part of Bittoo. But Sharma's biggest concern was that Singh acted well and looked like a boy from Delhi, but did not know much about the life in that city to convincingly portray Bittoo. Hence during the recce he sent him to stay at the campus of Delhi University. Singh made friends with the students there, and hung out with them thereby getting an idea of how the guys in Delhi behave and how they lead their life. He explained: "Interestingly, I met this guy who was very close to Bittoo. He had the swagger, the way he dressed, spoke, I knew when I met him for the first time, I knew he was my guy. So I studied him for a few days, hung out with him and have made Bittoo like him. He had the attitude and energy of Bittoo. I knew this is as Bittoo as it gets! He was crucial in my preparation of Bittoo!" "It hasn't sunk in yet. I was expecting a good response, but after the film's release, the way people have reacted is just tremendous. I never imagined it would turn out all this way."
Filming ended in September 2010, with post-production continuing and promotions starting in October. Singh did a number of promotional campaigns, alongside his co-stars and the director, including going to the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and taking part in their annual festival. Prior to Band Baaja Baaraat's release, some pundits had expressed doubts that the film would be successful, 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, after its release, Band Baaja Baaraat went on to become a critical and commercial success. Singh's portrayal of Bittoo was lauded. At the 56th Filmfare Awards, Singh won the award for Best Male Debut.
Following Band Baaja Baarat, Singh signed his second film titled Ladies vs Ricky Bahl, produced by Chopra and directed by Maneesh Sharma. The film was described as a fun-filled 'rom-con' where a conman Ricky Bahl, played by Singh, cons girls for a living but finally meets his match. It also starred Anushka Sharma, Parineeti Chopra, Dipannita Sharma and Aditi Sharma, with filming in April 2011 in Delhi. According to Singh, the title character had various avatars in the film, including a chirpy, entertaining side and a sinister side. "There's a lot of meat in the character and I’m on my toes prepping for it. A crew member who read the script described it accurately when he said 'it's a kicky film," Singh further explained. Upon its release on December 9, 2011, the film received mixed reviews.
While post-production was going on for Ladies vs Ricky Bahl, Singh signed his third feature film titled Lootera. Written and directed by Vikramaditya Motwane, the film is a love story set in the 1950s, starring Sonakshi Sinha opposite to Singh. The story was inspired by writer O. Henry's short story, The Last Leaf, even though the producers claimed it was different. Shooting for Lootera completed in August 2012 with the film to be released on July 5, 2013. Lootera released to worldwide critical acclaim on July 5, 2013.
Singh also considered other film opportunities, like Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Ramleela, opposite to Deepika Padukone. Bhansali was impressed by Singh's performance in Band Baaja Baaraat and decided to sign him for the film, which started shooting in July 2012. Director Shaad Ali signed Singh for his venture titled Kill Dil, a romantic film which Ali described as "a film about the tricks the heart plays on an unsuspecting victim of love. Ranveer is pukka for the male lead."