Their romance will go down in Bollywood’s history books, so it’s fitting that Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh’s three films together are also epic love stories. The couple, who will get married over a two-day ceremony on November 14 and 15 in Italy’s Lake Como, have starred in three films together – four, if you count a cameo.
They’re all directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and they’ve all been big box office hits. It was on the sets of their Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ram Leela that they first met, and the rumours of them dating were first circulated. With every successive movie, these rumours only grew stronger, until recently, when on October 21 they confirmed in a joint social media statement that they would be tying the knot.
Before their big day, here’s a look at their cinematic love story, in the context of what was happening in real life.
Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ram Leela
Bhansali was coming off one of the biggest bombs of his career – Guzaarish – and mounting such a massive film with unproven stars was risky. But Ram Leela, as it is colloquially known, went on to make over Rs 200 crore at the box office.
It was also – like the recent Padmaavat – a victim of protests. It was, as Bhansali said, ‘a desi adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet’. Ranveer plays Ram and Deepika plays Leela, two lovers who belong to warring factions.
It was reported that since the two did not know each other too well before the film, Bhansali had organised socialising workshops for them to develop chemistry. The two would go for movies together, they’d go out on 4 am coffee dates and they’d even attend public events with each other.
Interestingly, neither Ranveer nor Deepika were the first choice for their roles. Kareena Kapoor Khan was initially supposed to play Leela, while Pakistani actor Imran Abbas was approached to play Ram. Both turned the film down due to date issues.
“Don’t we look great together?” Ranveer wrote alongside a picture of the two of them on Instagram, in celebration of the film’s four-year anniversary.
This can’t be counted as a Ranveer-Deepika film, per se, but they did appear in one scene together. Ranveer made a cameo as Gabo Eucharista, husband of a few hours to Deepika’s character, Fanny. Gabo dies during the wedding party, a scene shown as a flashback moment in the film — a dark comedy directed by Cocktail’s Homi Adajania.
Deepika and Ranveer’s second collaboration with Bhansali was even grander than their first. Now firmly rumoured to be together, and with the addition of Priyanka Chopra to the cast, the excitement for the film was heightened. Just like Ram Leela, the central roles in Bajirao Mastani were initially supposed to be played by different actors – Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai, as per reports. But the souring of their rumoured real life relationship put a wrench in the works.
Bajirao Mastani, about the great Maratha warrior and the woman he fell in love with, received significantly better reviews than Ram Leela. It also performed better at the box office, with a total gross of over Rs 350 crore.
According to a Quint report, Ranveer had expressed his joy at being able to work with Deepika twice. “It’s my privilege that I get to work with her twice during this phase, in Ram-Leela and Bajirao Mastani. I trust her immensely, I know that she’s one of the most generous actors that I’ve ever worked with. I know that I can surrender to her in a scene… just connect with her, be present with her, look into her eyes and really mean what I’m saying. She’s an incredible performer”, he said.
The stakes kept increasing for Ranveer and Deepika’s third film with Bhansali, both in front of and behind the camera. Padmaavat was originally titled Padmavati, but was engulfed in a massive controversy when a certain Rajput group protested against the film’s depiction of Rani Padmavati. They believed – sight unseen – that the film contained a dream sequence in which Deepika’s character, the queen, would romance Ranveer’s evil Alaudin Khilji.
Everyone involved with the film refuted the existence of such a scene, but the protests only intensified as the release date came closer. Shortly before the film was supposed to release in December, 2017, threats of violence were issued against Deepika.
Ranveer, at the recent Hindustan Leadership Summit where he appeared alongside Deepika, confessed that it was difficult for him to remain silent during that time. “I didn’t want to validate these punks by responding to them,” he said. “Of course, my knee-jerk reaction was that I was infuriated, and I was all set to respond but my team, my seniors, my parents calmed me down and said ‘you’re going to make it worse,’” he said.