I have learnt a lot from Shahid, Deepika and Ranveer in Padmaavat: Ujjwal Chopra

Ujjwal Chopra who plays the role of a legendary warrior, Gora Singh, in Sanjay Leela Bhansali shares his first hand experience of preparations, and working with Bollywood's leading director and actors like Shahid Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh.

I have learnt a lot from Shahid, Deepika and Ranveer in Padmaavat: Ujjwal Chopra

Ever since the news about Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat (earlier named Padmavati) released, people across the country have been showing mixed reactions. While the fans were keen about the release, Karni Sena, on the other hand, did not take the creative content in the right way. The film stars Shahid Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh in the lead roles, and many known faces from the Indian Television industry as the supporting cast, who have made a mark, despite the popular actors taking the limelight.

One such actor is Ujjwal Chopra, who played the role of Gora Singh in the film. A legendary warrior, Gora Singh served Maharaja Rawal Ratan Singh who was the ruler of Chittorgarh. Gora Singh along with Badal, fought against Alauddin Khalji and his troupe at the Delhi Sultanate, in order to rescue the Maharaja and Rani Padmavati.

In an exclusive conversation with Mumbai Live, Ujjwal shares his experience of being a part of Padmaavat, a masterpiece by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, which released on January 25.

Preparation for the role

As an actor, we are trained to play different roles. For this one specifically, I worked on speech and diction. There was a need to improve my body language, keeping the real character in mind, and so I was also trained on those aspects to be poised, strong and a lot more. A lot of research went on to make this character – it is not muscular, but strong. I’m not built, and I don’t train hard at the gym, but I had to make sure that I sure I’m ready for the role. Not to forget, a lot of credit for all the roles and characters in the film, goes to the costume and the make-up team, who make us look the way real characters were.

Pressure to play an iconic character from the Rajput Kingdom

There wasn’t much pressure regarding the role. In fact, I had prepared myself well for the character and I wanted to justify with my skills, hence there was no complaint regarding the pressure. This was my first experience of working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali (SLB) and it was very enriching. We were trained to talk, walk, behave, etc. regarding the role, just to perfect a shot. Every frame directed by SLB is a painting, and the most beautiful to look at. He has worked a lot on the film, and we have almost shot for one full year. It was difficult at times, but most importantly it was a learning experience. I made myself comfortable with the team, which helped me adapt to everyone on the sets.

Preparation for the action sequences

We had to go through a training for Kerala’s popular martial arts form, Kalari, under our trainer named Sunil. Over those few days, we were taught to perfect our movements, postures, body etc. I was asked to keep myself fit, and I always tried, as I believe it helps otherwise in life too. Besides Kalari, we also were guided about horse riding, which is quite used in the film. Earlier the makers decided to use a body double for my action sequences, but looking at my preparation, they asked me to do my own action scenes. I’m happy that happened, as my hard work showed results.

Working closely with Shahid, Deepika, and Ranveer

Shahid Kapoor is in a way a perfectionist, as he closely looks at costumes, make-up, etc. He is a wonderful actor to work with. There were many instances where I saw that he discusses his lines, offers suggestions and tips to improve. There was one scene in particular which SLB and Shahid were not satisfied with, and hence we shot that one full night, and we closed it on the 40th shot. His satisfaction and hunger to deliver with perfection is admirable.

Deepika Padukone, on the other hand, is extremely professional. She is always prepared for her shot, and always ready with her lines and delivery. She is very friendly, and that made it very comfortable to work with her. Usually, almost all scenes in every SLB films have been performed many times, before the final cut, but there was one shot where Deepika and I had worn the skin of the role, and we performed so well, that it was finalized in one shot, for which she complimented me too. There were times, where I was under pressure to wrap up the day’s schedule due to the time crunch, and she stood behind the camera to give me cues. I respect her personally too, for being kind, friendly and helpful.

Ranveer Singh is a powerhouse. The way he works on set is phenomenal. I had only one day schedule with him, for one or two scenes, but even then I could feel his energy. He has the ‘madness’ to be a superstar. I remember a scene where he had to wait in an open, barren land for a shot, with heavy costumes, and he stood in extremely high temperature of about 40-42 degrees, just to be in the mood. He prepares himself for the best and that is what shows in his character always.

Future projects:

I’m always interested in roles which challenge me as an actor and beats the monotony. I’m not sure if I will return to a daily soap ever, because every day is the same, and there is nothing much to learn. I have been there, done that! I take in commercials these days, as it helps me deliver a story in few minutes and that is challenging. Further, I enjoy shows like Crime Patrol, CID, and others, where I get a new script or a story with every episode. Talking about films, I’m currently in talks for one or two movies, but they are in their early stages. I only wish to perform better with every role, and keep developing my skills in acting!