All agog, I enter the chief minister’s bungalow, a paper plane’s throw away from my abode..A trot past security guards galore, a recce of a compound emptier than an auditorium showing Mission Istaanbul.. and I’m in a room packed with angry young black leather sofas, exchanging neighbourly notes.
He announces that he’s feeling like a student sitting for an exam (must be my professorial specs). I tell him to feel at home. We check out his den which has more keds than a footwear store, tasteful art canvases, DVDs, paperbacks and college campus pictures. After phulkas, veggies and iced chhaas, Riteish Deshmukh chills in a dessert chat with Khalid Mohamed.
(Jolly) So what’s newsy?
Huh? (Impatiently) So what’s newsy? Sir, you won’t believe this but it’s taken me five-and-a-half years to get to this interview.
Uh.. no no.. and stop calling me sir. Tell me have you sent a bouquet to Genelia D’Souza to congratulate her for Jaane Tu..Ya Jaane Na?
(Apologetically) Not yet but I will.. she’s been out of town.
Of course I sent her an sms. To Imran Khan too. It was a sweet love story.. it reminded me of my first film (Tujhe Meri Kasam). She brought her personality to the screen, I liked her no make-up look also. I hope you liked the lunch.
Absolutely. And did you send her a message after
Pehle Aap Tere Baap.. or er.. something?
Yeah, of course I did.
There has been much talk that you two have been going steady.
I do not react to the speculations. There’s no point in issuing clarifications. Rumours would affect me two-four years ago.
Genelia D’Souza isn’t your girlfriend?
Why not every girl then? I know so many sweet girls.
You’re 30 and you’ve never had a girlfriend?
Would you like some tea?
Of course, there have been girlfriends in college.. fun, energy.
Wrong word, sir, I just meant it would be a fun thing.. (sweating) nothing serious.
Hey Rits, no sir phar. Don’t your parents want you to get married?
They haven’t posed the question to me. Dad married when he was 30, my brother Amit did when he was 32. All the attention was focused on my brother. Now maybe the focus will shift towards me.
You know.. relatives sending pictures of eligible girls.
Ever logged on to shaadi.com?
Yeah, for a friend.. it’s all sorted there.. age, community, likes, dislikes. But it didn’t work, my friend’s still unmarried.
Do you visit Facebook.. Orkut?
No.. only design potters.com to see funky furniture designs.
Have you read all the books in this room?
No but I’m getting there. I read Dan Browns, funny stuff like
10,000 Ways to Say I Love You
. Actually before Shah Rukh (Khan) told me that I should read, I was only into Tinkle comics.
Rits, relax child.
I don’t bite.
Achhalisten you come across as the typical Nice Guy.. no darker side to you?
Only when there’s no electricity, ha ha!
Ha ha! No evil thoughts?
Thoughts? Like all teenagers maybe I fantasised about peeping into bedrooms.. but I didn’t.
Do you understand politics?
Yes, I’m like the outsider looking in. It’s a high pressure job.The one time I saw my father (Vilasrao Deshmukh) really go through a crisis was in 1995..when he lost an election. It was like a death in the family.. but dad isn’t demonstrative. He said okay, fine.. he’s a fighter. The only time I’ve seen tears in his eyes was when he lost his mum.. and then dad.
There have been allegations that your films—like the recent
De Taali— are ‘fed’ because of your political connections.. with tickets being bought up in bulk in Maharashtra.
I’ve heard that too. Ironically,
didn’t do well in Mumbai at all. The allegations started because some tickets were sold in bulk to corporation houses.. like the shows of many new movies are.
Would you ever contest the elections?
Never.. (pause) but never say never. Only one sibling.. my brother.. should enter the field.
But you do campaign for the Congress.
Yes.. and I rehearse the speeches intensely. I get stage fright.
As the CM’s son, what kind of privileges do you enjoy?
Meaning if you drive though a red light.. enough of the sir I tell you.
, I don’t drive, so no problems there. No privileges.. otherwise everyCM’s sonwould be like those goonda boys they show in the movies.
Yeah, how do you react when the CM is portrayed as a foul villain in the movies?
Not a single movie has come close to real politics. So, it doesn’t bother me. (Relaxing now..) And every minister’s son is shown raping college students and doing drugs. In college, whenever I would be asked, I would say I’m an agriculturist’s son.
What about that incident involving Aftab Shivdasani and you at a Pune discotheque?
It was blown out of proportion. A complaint was lodged by Aftab.. and action was taken.
You’re so politically correct.
(Plays with pillow, chucks it around) Yes.
Of the films you’ve done so far, which would you remember?
My first one and umm..
What about you being typecast as a funny guy?
Yes, there is that fear.. but comedies make you laugh, so it’s not a bad space to be in.
You seem to be a instinctive mimic?
I do enjoy mimicry.. within a closed room.. and it shouldn’t be extremely bitchy.
Then why that lampoon of Aamir Khan at an award show?
You should have seen the original script. I had many jokes, which were in bad taste, deleted. I sms’ed Aamir that I was doing this act.. to ask if he had any objections. He sms’ed back that he had no objections at all and was looking forward to seeing it.
Did he message you after seeing the show?
Sir, what what you ask!
You’re a major Shah Rukh Khan fan.. right?
And you attend nine out of ten movie premieres.
Make that eight-and-a-half. In fact Anil Kapoor was telling me, “Arre Karan Johar and you seem to be in every camp.
.” The thing is that I just feel excited to be in the film world.Where else would I find a friend like Karan? He’s my fashion cop. He was so angry with me for wearing a kurta-pajama to an award function where everyone was in suits.
What happens when one of your heroines, Ayesha Takia, drops out of a project?
There were date issues.
Do you believe in date issues?
It’s one of the greatest cover-ups.
So, how do I end this interview Rits?
By letting me call you sir.