It's been five years. From "Chief Minister's son," he is now known as someone who has gained a foothold for himself in movie town. Known for his down to earth nature and his comic timing, here is Riteish Deshmukh in review mode with Vajir Singh.
Excerpts from our conversation:
Do you know that you're known as the nice guy of the industry?
(Smiles) See, I'm not into any camp and also don't believe in it. I'm friendly with everyone as they are with me. Everyone here has been gracious enough to accept me as an actor and their friend. I feel good about it. I've always believed in giving before expecting. If I give respect to others, only then will they respect me.
You've not been seen in any solo hero flicks off late. Is that deliberate?
It's a great feeling to carry a project on your sturdy shoulders. But you have to get a film and a role deserving of the attention. Yes, of late, I haven't done any solo flicks but that could change in the coming months.<b1>
For the moment though, I'm reveling in the success of Dhamaal and Heyy Babyy. Both these films were multi-starrers.. Yeah, Akshay Kumar was the crowd-puller of Heyy Babyy.
You're being modest.
No, it's a fact and I accept it. As an actor, when you know who you are and accept it, it helps you to grow. It's always good to have a reality check.
So what's your strategy now?
What strategy? Acting wasn't something I'd planned. I was an architect. I still have my firm and continue giving inputs for certain projects. Acting happened by chance and I slowly fell in love with it.
Today, I enjoy not just performing in front of the camera but also watching a scene being replayed on the monitor. I love the atmosphere on the sets. I can't think about being anywhere else. I'm lucky to have been accepted as an actor and a friend.
But surely you must chart your career moves?
Currently, I'm shooting for Sujoy Ghosh's Alladin which also toplines Amitabh Bachchan and Sanjay Dutt. I never imagined that one day I would be on screen with these two stalwarts. And all this happened without any plotting or planning.. without being a part of any camp. <b2>
It's been five memorable years. Most of my films have done well commercially. (Smiles) When your film clicks, it helps steady your boat. Obviously, you don't want to rock the boat.
That explains why you've become so selective.
I don't intend to accept every offer that comes my way. Last year, I had three releases, Dhamaal, Heyy Babyy and Cash. This year I'll have two, De Taali and Alladin. Two-three releases in a year is enough.
I'm also in talk with Milap Jhaveri (writer of Masti) for a romantic film. I'll be doing a regular prem kahani after a long time.
Is that a conscious effort to break out of the ‘funny guy' mould?
(Smiles) It takes years for a newcomer to build an image. And then he spends the rest of his life trying to break out of it. I started with a love story and then shifted to laugh riots.
And despite the ‘comedy' tag, I've tried to do the occasional film that was different. Cash was an out-and-out-action film if you remember.
But it didn't work. Do you regret Cash?
I've never regretted anything in life. Some films work, some don't. When a film clicks, it brings you lots of name, fame and money. When it doesn't, you must accept failure gracefully.
Surely, you were embarrassed by Kya Kool Hai Hum?
I know a few found the film crude but I enjoyed doing it. Kya Kool.. was India's first sex comedy. In the coming years, many such movies will be made. (Smiles) Don't forget it was a hit!
What about playing a woman in Apna Sapna Money Money?
(Laughs) I don't know if I'll ever be able to repeat that. It takes a lot to get into a woman's shoes.
Amitabh Bachchan plays a genie in Alladin. Will he be seen shirtless on screen?
(Laughs) Alladin is a fun-filled fantasy adventure. It's a contemporary story with loads of magic. Can't say more.
Do you believe in magic?
I do, but so far, I've had no personal experience.
What if you were to meet a genie and he granted you three wishes?
If you have someone like Bachchan sir as the genie, you don't need to ask for anything else.
Ah, so he's your matinee idol?
As a child, I grew up watching Bachchan sir. He was the actor for me. And then in my teens I discovered Shah Rukh Khan. (Smiles) Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Mohabbatein.. every teenager wants to be either Raj, Rahul or Raj Aryan. And have a Simran in his life.
So, who's the Simran in your life?
(Smiles) Next question.
Were you an obsessive lover? Shah Rukh Khan even slit his veins in Darr A Love Story. Did you ever do that?
(Smiles) I'm sensible enough to understand the difference between reel life and real.
Any intention of getting into politics?
I'm aware of what's happening in my city.. my country. But I'm far too busy to jump in.