Interview By: Ankita R. Kanabar

While there’s no doubt about the fact that he’s an effortlessly funny guy and that translates on-screen, Riteish’s Deshmukh’s in-depth know-how about his craft is interesting. In the middle of the interview, he can get up and demonstrate how actors are in a dilemma sometimes about what to do with their hands in a scene. And then he reveals, ‘you can know an actor is good by how he uses his hands while acting.’ Ahead of the release of his next ‘Housefull’ installment, we catch up with the actor, and discuss comedies, being typecast and lots more…

“Comedy is the genre which made me survive in the industry”

Over the years, you’ve developed certain credibility among the audience when it comes to comedy. How does that feel, and how’s it coming back with the third installment of ‘Housefull’?
I think comedy is the genre which made me survive in this industry. It helped me live all my dreams in terms of performing with people I idolise or travel the world. It also helped me overcome certain genres that failed. For example, ‘Allahdin’ didn’t work and it was a great film that is still close to my heart. ‘Naach’ didn’t work. Those were all non-comedies but comedies kept working on the other hand. Then comes a time when I get ‘Ek Villain’ and ‘Lai Bhaari’ back-to-back and things begin to change. But comedy helped me come this far and made me survive in the industry for all these years. So, it’s great to come back with ‘Housefull 3’, and be back with Akshay, Jacqueline, Boman, the whole team. Also, of course, this time we have my dear friend Abhishek coming on board and I’m working with him after 8 years.

 While you say ‘Naach’ didn’t work, many critics really appreciated the performances in the film I believe…
‘Naach’ still remains one of my favourite films. Abhishek still tells me, it’s still his most favourite role of mine. Even Genelia loves the film. The climax of ‘Naach’ was unique. Abhishek is in love with Antara, she is in love with Abhishek but Abhishek thinks she’s in love with me. It’s a three-way conversation where I’m the silent guy. It’s a fifteen minute climax and I hardly have one dialogue. That film made me realise that even if you don’t have a dialogue, you are pivotal in the scene. And Ramu is a genius. He said that, if you’re in the frame, I need you.

Being known for comedies, weren’t you apprehensive to play a negative role in ‘Ek Villain’?

These roles and these films they just happen, they are absolutely off-casting if you see. Some people would feel that Riteish as a villain in a film titled ‘Ek Villain’ is wrong casting. Because, people have this notion that every time I come on-screen, something funny will happen. There are two battles while doing a film like ‘Ek Villain’. One is, you have to be decent in what you are doing, and at the same time you have to convince the audience that you are not the guy from ‘Housefull’ or ‘Masti’ in this film. Strangely, just ten days before ‘Ek Villain’ came, Genelia had suggested, you should do a negative role. So, I got the film. Once you get the role, you should be convincing enough, so that people are not put off. And it was a role which didn’t have a crutch. He wasn’t a villain like Mogambo or Shakaal where they were dressed a certain way, or spoke a certain way. He was a normal guy, so it was a challenge. Most importantly, the film has to be successful, when all these things come together, people will remember it even after 2 years.

““When I made my debut, it was very difficult to be a newcomer. Films came rarely to you. So to find a foothold in this industry, you have to do films that get offered to you”

So do you feel that comedy has become your speciality or do you feel stereotyped?

There is a typecast and it is nobody’s fault. I think the greatest example of a typecast is Akshay Kumar. People thought he could only do action, and then he did comedy, then when people thought he only does comedies, he does ‘Airlift’, ‘Holiday’, ‘Baby’. He is one of the finest examples of what an actor can do to earn some credibility in a genre, break it and move on. He is amazing with his timing and choices that he makes. I have immense respect for that man. When I made my debut, it was very difficult to be a newcomer. Films came rarely to you. Today so many newcomers are being launched but it was a rarity that time. Production houses worked with established actors. Hence I got a certain kind of films. So to find a foothold in this industry, you have to do films that get offered to you. When films like ‘Masti’, ‘Kya Kool hai Hum’ were hits, only comedies were offered to me. So I did those. But I am glad because it made me stand somewhere. Typecast is nobody’s fault, because you can only choose from the opportunities that you get. Only success can break a typecast. A film needs to be successful for you to be offered different roles.

 Well the audience doesn’t seem saturated seeing you in that genre…but what about you?

That’s the reason I try to see something new in every film, if there is an edge to it even if it’s a comedy. I have to see if I have something else to offer. For instance, in ‘Housefull 3’, my character has this trait where he says something else. Or for example, ‘Dhamaal’ is a physical comedy, so your reactions are louder, or ‘Masti’ is an adult mass comedy so the reactions are different.

Post ‘Housefull 3’, you have a variety of films coming up…
Yes I have ‘Banjo’ which is a very interesting character of a street musician. Sometimes you say dialogues in a film, and sometimes philosophy. And ‘Banjo’ has a lot of philosophy. Then there’s ‘Mauli’ which is in the zone of ‘Lai Bhaari’. And then there’s ‘Masti’, ‘Bankchor’ and an action drama with Anubhav Sinha. So, hopefully it should be interesting (smiles).

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