It’s about 4:30 in the evening and we are waiting in a quiet, dimly lit corridor outside actor Ranveer Singh’s makeup room at the sprawling studios of Yash Raj Films in Andheri, a Mumbai suburb. By the time we finish counting the 10 rooms on the floor, Singh emerges from his room in a black and red Adidas track suit and white sneakers. His hair is cropped short and spiked.
The 5-ft-10-inch tall 30-year-old actor, who is dressed for a workout, says that we can talk while walking on the lawns of the studio instead of sitting down for a chat. We follow Singh, who has been basking in the box-office success of Bajirao Mastani, down the stairs and on to the lawn. “I have to lose weight for my next film. I didn’t get time to go to the gym. Let’s lose some calories by walking," he says, grinning. He is preparing for Befikre, a Yash Raj Films production to be directed by the production house’s boss, Aditya Chopra, who will don the director’s cap after a seven-year gap.
Singh’s preoccupation with losing weight provides an insight into how focused he is on looking the right part in his movies. “I love to chill. But when I am working, it is almost like an obsession. After getting into acting, I realised that being a performer is limitless—there is no limit on how much you can grow and achieve."
Singh, who grew up in an affluent family in Khar, Mumbai, says they provide for everything, leaving his money untouched. “I have all the comfort that I need and it is mostly provided to me by my father and my family.... Whatever I am making is pretty much there and ready to be invested."
He is not a spendthrift and almost everything he earns goes into investments. “I try and keep things simple. I really have much more than I need in terms of luxury. I am the brand ambassador of Adidas Originals, which is a proud association for me—(it’s) a brand that I grew up on. I pretty much wear Adidas all day. I don’t spend money on clothes. Also, I will eat pretty much anything and most of the time I am dieting, so I don’t spend money on food."
Singh considers himself a conservative investor and attributes this trait to his father, Jagjit Singh Bhavnani—a businessman who has dealt in automotive retail and also had interests in leather, hospitality and medical businesses. Singh’s father handles his financial portfolio. “He is a businessman and has been working for over 30-40 years. He has a vision and understanding of business far greater than mine. So, I allow him to drive the component of brand Ranveer, so to speak."
Singh believes his father is the best money manager, and ensures that the money works as hard as the son does for his films. “From the very beginning, I made my money work. My father makes sure that happens. I am in the loop for everything, but I am not comfortable sharing the details, neither is my father. But what I do know and can say for a fact is that the money is always working, thanks to my father. He is brilliant at money management. He is a tremendous resource for anybody to have, and I avail of it." Though Singh doesn’t divulge details of his financial portfolio, he does tell us that the largest allocation is for real estate. “I think property is a good place to invest in. That is the primary focus of my investments." The first thing he wants to do is to buy a living space in the city. “My primary focus is to get my house in Mumbai. Everything else comes later."
A few years ago, he had plans to buy a property in Goa, but now thinks is not practical. “At some point, I thought I would function out of Goa. It makes more sense for me to get myself a bigger, better place in Mumbai because that is where I am most of the time. I probably might never go to Goa."
Singh has stayed away from the stock market and has no intention to venture into it either. “I find (investing in the) stock market (is) almost like gambling. I have kind of stayed away from that. If you have worked hard for your money, then you must respect it. Given the fact that I work really hard for what I earn, I don’t like to gamble with my money."
Singh debuted in 2010 with Yash Raj Films’ Band Baaja Baaraat, a low budget film (10 crore) that went on to make 18 crore. Six years into his career in Bollywood, Singh has many plans for the movie industry as well as life outside of films. “There are thoughts that are at a nascent stage," he said. “Currently, I involve myself in the creative side of what I do."
He intends to invest in his interests, which include films, music, fitness and advertising. “One of the first things that I am looking to do is cultivate original content and writing talent because I feel there is a dearth of writers since they don’t have enough motivation and are not paid enough. I want to diversify my creative ability and talent. I want to get into various aspects of film making. I want to be a writer, creative producer, director, music composer...."
Singh has multiple projects planned with coveted film makers and is focusing on acting. But he plans to venture into content development soon. “Audience wants to see good films and the spine of good films is good writing. So, that is one aspect of film making I want to focus on first. It will simply be a function of getting writers on my payroll, giving them office space, promoting and encouraging them to find new subjects and write exciting scripts. I don’t know how much money I will put in. In some of these, I will be an actor too."
With many lucrative endorsement deals coming his way post Bajirao Mastani, Singh says his work load has quadrupled. Sanjay Leela Bhansali-directed Bajirao Mastani earned 184 crore in eight weeks; it was made on a budget of 140 crore. His graph as a brand ambassador has been unique, given the fact that he is the only mainstream actor who started with endorsing a condom brand, Durex. “The unique part of that association was that it was my idea," says Singh. His ability to think differently seems to have paid off.
An experienced copywriter and a student of advertising, Singh takes keen interest in the creative side of an advertisement. “Everyone knows that I have a stake in the creative side. Ultimately, it is my face. I don’t look upon my advertising and brand equity as a side show. Definitely, at the core of what I do are the films, but I am involved and hands-on with my advertising equity as well." Singh, who endorses at least 15 brands, also came up with the creative ideas for Ching’s Secret instant noodles.
In the initial stage of his career, Singh would turn down many endorsement offers because he thought they were underestimating the value he would bring to the brands. “I stuck to my guns and said I will only do brands when they see the value in me that I see in myself," he says, making it clear he won’t sell himself short.
Besides content development and advertising, Singh also wants to focus on the fitness segment. “But I don’t know what it is I will engage in—whether a supplement brand or maybe a chain of gyms. Various ideas are thrown around right now. It is something that I have a genuine passion for."
In all that he does, Singh wants to follow his interests. “If you have a choice, then choose to do what makes you happy. Don’t focus on material things because they offer only instant gratification. It is the goodness and kindness you give to people which is more important."
He is clear about his money philosophy. Don’t chase money or success; chase excellence. Everything else will follow. Singh attributes his money lessons to his father. “My father has taught me that you must always save and not be reckless with money." He also doesn’t get carried away by success. “When you have a good Friday (usually the day new movies release), the business side of things start moving up. So, invariably you will see a spike in the number of gigs that you do. The phone won’t stop ringing. Suddenly all the brands, film makers and event organisers will be approaching you. On a not so good Friday, things kind of slow down. The phone doesn’t ring as much," he says with a shrug.
Being used to luxury and comfort, there is still some fancy stuff out there, such as cars, that attracts him. “Every 2-3 years, I like to buy a car. I want the back-seat experience while travelling in Mumbai because the way the traffic and road situation is, it doesn’t make sense to buy a sports car. And most of the time I am in the back seat completing work while travelling from point A to point B. So for me it is important that there is a luxury sedan with a very good back-seat experience—sort of a chauffeur-driven big car." At present, Singh owns a Jaguar XJ Ultimate, which was priced 1.78-1.87 crore (ex-showroom Mumbai) when launched in 2013 in India.
Singh also spends money on travel. Apart from this, he splurges on music equipment and home theatres. “I am not into gadgets. I only have those kinds of gadgets that support me in my work. Music is a large part of my creativity. So I have a lot of gadgets that are related to music—I buy a lot of headphones and MP3 players," he adds.
Singh also has the best home theatre that money can buy. “I will always have a very high-end home theatre system because I love movies and I believe them to be an art form," he says, adding that the expensive audio-visual system he has at home is a sign of his respect for the art.
As we finish our 60-minute conversation, we are left a little breathless from the walk. But not the actor. Singh keeps himself and his ideas going; of course, with able direction from his father.
Mint Rich Star is a series that introduces readers to the business side of a celebrity. The series will lead up to the annual Mint Rich issue.