IN A CORRIDOR HUMMING WITH VOICES at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Bhopal, I stood outside Ranveer Singh’s door with about a dozen others. It was nearly ten on a morning in late November, and the actor had landed just a few hours ago on the earliest flight from Mumbai, which had taken off before dawn. I had seen him on board, dressed in a tracksuit and with a flight pillow around his neck. The previous night, Singh’s manager had told me that “he isn’t a morning person at all.”
The star’s presence created a frisson of excitement in the aircraft. Two young women went into a fever of delight, and tried to get his autograph through his bodyguard. Watching them, a middle-aged man seated next to me asked if there was an actor on board. I mentioned Singh’s name, and pointed to a photograph in the newspaper, of him in a military-style blue cap and jacket, with colourful medals and epaulettes, plus giant aviator sunglasses. The man glared at the image, and handed the paper back to me.
When we landed in Bhopal, Singh went rapidly through the motions of a welcome ceremony at the airport, his sunglasses on in the early morning light. He was dogged by fans, and trailed by a camera crew that had flown in with us to shoot a behind-the-scenes look at the day. Singh walked out of the terminal, got behind the wheel of a waiting car, and drove off—which in itself caused a minor sensation. In his wake, people scrolled through their phones, checking the photographs they had managed to grab. Singh’s personal staff waited to collect his baggage. They were dressed for the mild Mumbai winter, and shivered in the cold.