Alauddin Khilji’s character in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati is “despicable” and “mean”, says the actor who plays him. In an interview to Filmfare magazine, Ranveer Singh talks about Bhansali’s version of the Delhi Sultanate ruler in Padmavati, which will be released on December 1.

“I’m shit scared,” Singh told the magazine. “I’m playing an anti-hero. Only when I see the film, will I be able to assess my character. It’s a risky move for me. That’s why I took so much time to sign it. For a mainstream leading man to make a choice like this at this stage is dicey. It’s a despicable character. He’s mean.”

Padmavati traces the mythical passion of Khilji for Padmini, the married queen of Chittor. Padmavati is based on the epic poem Padmavat and has stirred controversy among right-wing groups in Rajasthan even though Padmini is a fictitious character. Deepika Padukone plays the queen in the movie.

Singh confirmed that he has no scenes with Padukone in the movie.

“One of my seniors, and who I believe is one of the greatest actors of all time, advised me to be careful,” Singh told the magazine. “She told me the Indian audience is naïve. If they love a character, the love will transfer to the actor who played it. In this case, if they hate my character, the hate will be transferred to me.” The actor accepted the role because of his previous association with Bhansali, with whom he has worked in Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013) and Bajirao Mastani (2015). “I’m indebted to him as an artiste,” Singh said. “He has pushed my boundaries and got the best out of me.”

Singh chose not to comment on the controversies plaguing the production. “I do have strong opinions on this subject, which I wish to express,” he said. “But I’ve been requested by the team to not voice it to avoid further hurdles. I channelled the angst into my performance.” The repeated attacks on the movie’s intent are “draining” and have extracted a price on his health, he added. “But it’s all for a greater purpose. These films are for posterity.”