Working on a Saturday can be really boring especially when you know that your friends are busy chilling out somewhere. But when you are lined up for an interview with Riteish Deshmukh, you know that's just not the case!
It's a sunny afternoon and I make my way towards Sajid Nadiadwala's swanky office where the actor is busy with the promotions of his upcoming comic caper 'Housefull 3'.
He greets us with a warm smile and there we begin our conversation which revolves around why he has so many comedy movies in his filmography, dealing with success and failures and much more.
Excerpts from the chat-
Q. You have done a lot of comedy films in the past. So how is 'Housefull 3' different from them?
A. If you notice 'Housefull' series from part 1 to part 3, they will be in a similar zone. Because when you do a franchise, you can't move from the basic structure of a film. But here in 'Housefull 3' apart from a few, the characterization of every character changes but the formula will be the same. The situation and the plot of 'Housefull 3' is different. Hence it's different from part 1 and part 2. But if you want to draw comparisons with my earlier films, say, 'Masti' series, yes, it is different because that film is a naughty comedy. 'Dhamaal' was a more of physical comedy. So yes, on the broader prospect we think that all the comedies are same. They might look same but at least for myself I tend to segregate as to how I want to do. If I am doing a series like 'Dhamaal' my body language will be much louder. So there is a difference in terms of reactions.
Q. Apart from your comedy flicks, you have 'Banjo' coming up and then in the past you had a menacing role in 'Ek Villain'. So as an actor, which one is the most challenging and interesting for you?
A. When I debuted in 2003, that period wasn't favourable for newcomers. At that time every established production houses worked with established actors. So we as newcomers had to really figure out whatever films we got. I started off with a romantic flick. Then Vashu Bhagnani offered me 'Out Of Control' which didn't work well. Then 'Masti' and 'Kya Kool Hain Hum' happened which did well at the box office. So people used to say that let's sign him for comedy films. Only Ram Gopal Verma was a director who then didn't sign me for a comedy movie. He offered me 'Naach' and 'Darna Zaroori Hai'. I got opportunities to work only in comedies and those were the only films that were offered to me. So if I am offered five films out of which I could do only three then I had to choose a comedy film because they all belonged to the same genre. There were different kind of comedies. For example 'Bluffmaster' was a urban cool flick whereas 'Malamaal Weekly' was more of a rural comedy. Then 'Dhamaal' was a slapstick comedy. Playing a woman in 'Apna Sapna Money Money' was quite challenging. Then I got an opportunity to work in a different film, Sujoy Ghosh's 'Aladdin' which had a huge star cast. Unfortunately that didn't do well. So I had to go back to comedies. Suddenly it's like one genre stops for you. Whichever different genres you do, it needs to be successful so that people can offer you more such films. That didn't happen for a while so I kept going back to comedies. After 10-12 years of my career down the line I did two films which were extremely different from each other; one was 'Ek Villain' and the other was a Marathi film called 'Lai Bhaari'. Both the films worked well. I have grown from enjoying comedies but seeking out to do more in terms of different genres. I am glad that things have changed. Now if you are a newcomer you are probably more preferred to do a film in any big production house. I feel that's great. The phase of off-casting got me 'Ek Villain' which I am really happy about. I remember chatting with Aditya Chopra one day, he offered me 'Bank Chor' which is a quirky film. Then 'Banjo' which is coming up next is a musical drama. So having gone through it, because of lack of choices I kept doing comedies. Then I got a chance to do something different that I enjoyed doing. I am glad few things worked in my favour. As an actor I realized that I just enjoy doing movies. If I like a story I am willing to play any character.
Q. The recent success of 'Sairat' has proved to be a game-changer. So are you planning to do more Marathi films?
A. I am starting a Marathi film next which is 'Mauli'. It will be helmed by Nishikant Kamat with music by Ajay- Atul. So more or less the same team of 'Lai Bhaari' will be back with an absolute out-and-out commercial film. There is another film which I am producing which will be announced soon. I am also doing a film on 'Chatrapati Shivaji'. The script has almost been locked. We will start shooting it by the end of this year.
Q. Do you think that after a number of content driven films; the most recent being 'Sairat', people have started opening up towards regional cinema especially Marathi films?
A. In India, Maharashtra is the only state that houses two industries and that too Mumbai. So now when people go out their first choice is Hindi cinema. And for many years it was just that. Probably non Marathi audience didn't even know about Marathi films. However in recent four-five years, we have seen a surge in awareness of Marathi cinema. I feel there is a reason for it. You might enjoy watching a Hindi film but when you go back home you will speak in Marathi. So suddenly when you get content that really appeals to that language that you speak at home, it works. 'Sairat' has done that magic. Not every time a Hindi film can cater to that audience. I remember when we had produced 'Balak Palak', the mileu of a Marathi chawl and three children wanting to watch an adult film; that really connected with people and that's the reason it worked. I personally feel that within three years if we managed as producers, me as well as other people, the momentum of Marathi cinema we can be as strong and commercial as a Telugu or Tamil film industry.
Q. How do you deal with success and failures?
A. You should enjoy your success and mourn your failure only on a Friday. Saturday is a new day. It's done. Life goes on. Every one has moved on and you too have to. As an actor I don't think you should take anything too seriously. Coming from a political family I know nothing lasts forever. You should be aware that everything that goes up comes down. You should try and maintain a balance between everything. You will be happy. And that's what I want to be..I want to be happy as a person and an actor.
Q. So what keeps you motivated?
A. Don't let the box office numbers stress you and give you sleepless nights. Work hard and be happy.
Q. Do you plan to venture into direction any time soon?
A. My basic policy in life is 'Never say never'. I came from a political family, graduated and worked as an architect and then entered films. I didn't know that I was going to be a producer. But I will definitely not get into anything that I am not confident about. So if I think that I am not capable then I will never get into it. But if I will think that at some point if something excites me and I think I can do it, I will do it and no one will ever know. I will be very quiet and discreet.
Q. Between Hindi and Marathi films which one would be your personal choice?
A. I love movies and they can be in any language. Hindi cinema gave me an identity and it still gives me one. I get to do these unreal things like dancing on the mountains, running around the trees with some girl behind, travelling the world etc. At the same time I even love Marathi cinema because I get to produce some amazing stuff which is unfortunately not possible to do in Hindi film industry. So between Hindi and Marathi films I love both. That's why I am working in both the industry simultaneously.