Ranveer Singh is Changing the Rules of Engagement

Pop Culture

Ranveer Singh is Changing the Rules of Engagement

Illustration: Arati Gujar

Ranveer Singh has been an eccentric man, all along, but his latest antics have proved that nothing is off-limits for his persona. His most recent public display of flamboyance is rather ironically, an act of baring it all. In a photo shoot with Paper Magazine, the actor posed nude for the magazine, as he lay on a rug, and gazed into the camera with his tender and pensive eyes. In his entire glory, Singh was defiant, elegant, and enthralling, despite the possibility of a predictable backlash.

Let’s put it this way – fame is a funny phenomenon, and as hard as it might be to gain some, you’ll find that it’s even harder to maintain it. Tinsel-town celebrities are more often than not, people who market themselves – the rule is to get inside people’s subconscious, make yourself memorable, and engage with your viewership. Any publicity is good publicity, is the thumb rule of marketing, and it holds pretty much true for our stars. It’s alright if they love you or hate you, but don’t let them ignore you – it’s a mantra I believe fame pushes you to follow.

In his entire glory, Singh was defiant, elegant, and enthralling, despite the possibility of a predictable backlash.

However, despite these standard requirements, there haven’t been many actors who’ve grabbed people’s attention away from the movies, like Singh often has with his sartorial choices. The last, and maybe the most efficient of the lot in that way has been Shahrukh Khan, who has an exceptionally loyal fanbase across the world, that isn’t in love with him merely because of his films, but also with his larger image. His interviews are a constant source of entertainment for his fans, who find them irresistible for his with, sense of humour and ability to self-deprecate. Khan is articulate, charming and possesses an extraordinary gift of the gab that makes it nearly impossible for one to ignore him.

Singh, on the other hand, possesses no such quality. He is an evidently messy speaker, and quite frequently inarticulate. He is neither witty like Khan nor soft spoken and close-mouthed like Bachchan, or even bookishly smart like Aamir. He is most of the time, all over the place, and finds it rather futile to say anything worthwhile. He is though changing the rules of engagement, doing himself as only he knows best and not according to the gallery. Of course he isn’t the first to bare it all for a shoot, but to be able to do it in uncertain times for the industry, his own films having stuttered at the box-office of late, is a statement in finding expression where none seems to exist.

Singh, on the other hand, possesses no such quality. He is an evidently messy speaker, and quite frequently inarticulate.

While he, himself isn’t a good speaker, there’s no denying that Singh’s choices are speaking for him. His photoshoot has led to debate about expression, vulnerability, the male body and the female gaze, all within a span of a few days. Sure it is also down to the presence of social media, but there is still plenty to do when it comes to kicking off a conversation. With his bold, brass, and non-conformist choices, Singh has in many ways pushed people out of their comfort zones, by being witness to his at times endearing, and always energetic displays of himself. From kissing his fellow male actors publicly out of sheer affection to wearing whatever he wishes to, even if it is women’s clothing, to now stripping down Singh is losing inhibitions, as a public phenomenon, one act at a time.

Even if it is at the end of the day, an act of attention-seeking theatrics I am here for it, because compared to the airbrushed, PR-perfected personalities, Singh’s messy energy feels real and natural. The photoshoot, however controversial, is a testament to the kind of courage Singh carries inside him, in making choices that are off the rails and welcome potential trolling, even criticism.

Of course he isn’t the first to bare it all for a shoot, but to be able to do it in uncertain times for the industry, his own films having stuttered at the box-office of late, is a statement in finding expression where none seems to exist.

Singh, with his photoshoot, has prompted a conversation on how a male body should look, and the answer is that there is no formula. He has also made people ponder on the gender biases in nudity, and how if it were a woman in his place, then the reactions would have been diametrically different. These are important conversations. Varnished, and unblemished images of stars are not only boring and outdated but also restrictive in terms of their ability to show people, that flaws exist, and one must be comfortable in their own skin, because as Singh’s photoshoot shows us – there’s nothing more seductive than ourselves, stripped down of everything that the garment of pretence conceals.

Comments