Indian celebrity chef and actor Ranveer Brar, who will soon be seen alongside Bollywood powerhouse Kareena Kapoor in a new murder mystery, believes there are only two things that truly matter in life.
“A good Korma and good kismet,” said Brar in an interview with Gulf News, adding that the rest is what you might call the proverbial gravy.
These two elements have served him reasonably well in his life. The 45-year-old multi-hyphenate even jokes that he got his first acting job with Indian National Award-winning director Hansal Mehta because of his exceptional culinary skills.
The conspiracy theory goes thus: Mehta, whose credits include ‘Shahid,’ ‘City Of Lights,’ and the hit web series ‘Scoop,’ wanted to get in on his legendary Mutton Nihari recipe, and what better way to win him over than by having him prepare over 70 kilos of that decadent meat dish?
“The Mutton Nihari that you saw in ‘Modern Love Mumbai’ was authentic. I made it with my own two hands ... Our connection starts with all things fine like food, music, and movies. There’s just a certain trust that builds when you love the same things. And he’s one of the few filmmakers who strongly believes that creativity is a collaborative process,” said Brar.
Interestingly, we witnessed a similar collaborative process at our meeting place, his new swanky restaurant, Kashkan in Dubai Festival City, where Brar kept a keen eye on the food that was being plated. You could see his mind at work when he wondered if his paneer kebab enmeshed with sun-dried tomato paste was a bit “too chunky”. But this attention to detail has served him well as he switched gears from being a celebrated chef and TV host personality to cinema.
“We have just one life, right? And eventually, it’s all the roles that we play — the role of a dad, the role of a husband, the role of a son, the role of a chef … And I thought, why not act out these parts on the big screen?,” said Brar.
This chef, who famously championed for Dhania (coriander leaves) to be declared the National Herb Of India, is onto something here.
While he can’t speak much about his character in the upcoming atmospheric thriller ‘The Buckingham Murders’ with Kapoor, he believes that he is intrigued by grey roles. Apparently, his lanky appearance and sharp features make him the perfect villain material for all the casting agents in India.
“The moment they spot me, I know that there’s no chance of me getting that lead romantic role because everybody slots me as negative and grey immediately,” said Brar with a hearty laugh. But he isn’t complaining. This self-made chef and actor believes that the meatiest roles are often written for the baddies in a movie.
“Where else, but in films, do you get to play a villain … The more I navigate the grey, the more I am enjoying it. Indians tend to love black and white … There’s no ‘Game Of Thrones’ in their lives,” said Brar, alluding to the hit TV show with morally ambiguous characters, nihilistic twists, and deceptive plot lines.
So does it get exhausting? Apparently, his years of training in the kitchen where tempers run as high as the flames helped him tremendously.
“The highs are real highs and the lows are real lows in the kitchen. As a chef, you get actual live training. You experience a wide spectrum of emotions while working in a kitchen, just like when you are acting. In my years in the kitchen, you learn how much you modulate between those highs and lows. Both kitchen and a movie set are very intense, powerful places which make you experience life and its vagaries,” said Brar. His stint as a judge of MasterChef India on television for several seasons also helped him tremendously. He claims he got a head-start and learnt the art of switching on and off mentally.
“My earlier training of 11 years being in front of the camera helped me learn to switch on and off just like that … Even if the character stays inside me, I know how to leave it inside of me … And maybe that’s why I have grown to love acting so much,” said Brar. His flair at observing people and their reactions as they eat his food has also made him far more sensitive.
Another talent who’s a bigger natural than him is Kareena Kapoor Khan, his co-star from ‘The Buckingham Murder,’ which is slated to premiere at the London Film Festival (BFI) this October.
“I am an overthinker who has to run a scenario many times in my head and then react accordingly on camera. But the effortlessness with which Kareena works is outstanding. But I am assuming that there’s some method to such effortlessness.”
Now in his mid-forties, he feels time’s running out, and he’s keen to grab every opportunity — culinary or not — with both hands.
“The nonchalance that you had when you are 25 years old vs. your attitude now at 45 are very different. As time passes, I really want to appreciate the chances and opportunities that we get … Plus being a chef has taught me to be shameless, and lessons gleaned from my kitchen are life lessons. You can’t be a chef if you are not shameless, and the same goes for acting.”