'I'd love to do a Marathi film with Genelia.'
Riteish Deshmukh gears up to storm Marathi cinema!
Unlike most actors, Riteish Deshmukh is ready to talk about *everything,* and is ready to answer all the questions you throw at him.
In his latest film Banjo, he plays a banjo player and believe it or not, but he had his own banjo when he was a child.
He even learnt to play the Hawaii guitar for two years in his childhood.
As Banjo plays in theatres, Riteish tells Jahnavi Patel/Rediff.com more about it, his son Riaan’s experience on the film sets and Salman Khan’s cameo in the Chhatrapati Shivaji biopic.
Banjo is set in Maharashtra but we haven’t seen anyone play a banjo on the streets. How did you came up with this idea?
Though I was born in Latur, I have grown up in Mumbai. I remember clearly that the banjo was played on the streets till the early 1990s.
Post 90s, the music changed and keyboards replaced the banjo.
There are certain banjo parties still around. The energy of live sound is just something else. But yes, it has been forgotten and lost over a period of time.
Its glory days have gone but the film doesn’t address that. It’s a borrowed art; banjo is always about playing someone else’s tune.
In the film, a bunch of guys are talented and play banjo. Then a girl (Nargis Fakhri) comes from New York, listens to this high energy original sound and wonders who these guys are.
They play original songs but don’t have a stage.
The film talks about what if a stage is given to them to perform, would the audience accept their music?
Tell us a bit about your character.
I play Taraat, who is perpetually drunk.
He is arrogant about the fact that he plays the best banjo in the country and therefore charges double. He is also an extortionist so he goes and collects money.
He is a loner, so apart from the four people (in his group) that he loves, he doesn’t have anyone.
How would this guy play the banjo? I had to think that way.
Director Ravi Jadhav told me that if I feel that I'm playing the banjo, the audience will feel it too. That connection needed to be there.
So I thought about the person who made me *feel* that you are really play the instrument even though you're not -- that person was Zakhir Hussain sahib. When he plays the tabla, I don’t need to see the tabla because I know he can play it.
Looking at his face, I just said that let me see if I can borrow a bit. To mimic is not my cup of tea, he is far too great a man to do that. But in my own way, if I tried to borrow a string of that into this character... that’s how we tried to use the hair and body language.
Has Taraat inspired you?
Taraat is inspirational because of his belief and confidence. There is too much to learn from him.
I wish I was like him in so many more ways where he doesn't care about things and wears his emotions on his sleeves. He has this inherent confidence about his art form.
I can’t say that I do very good comedy, I’ll charge you double. They will (the producers) say, "I won't sign you" and then I would probably say, "Give me whatever" (laughs).
Apart from that, he is loveable too.
Do you think the banjo culture will come back?
It’s not about trying to come back.
Banjo is something that gives you energy, it doesn’t drain you out. To listen to the banjo, you have to dance, it sounds better.
It’s not about trying to revive (the banjo culture).
Banjo is just a metaphor, the film talks about all instruments, lost bands, street art, street musicians that don’t get a chance to showcase their talent.
Reality shows today are a platform.
Dharmesh (pictured above), who is also a part of the film, had a missal-pav thela. He got a chance, he did a reality show (Dance India Dance), did films (ABCD and ABCD 2) and now, he is a judge on one of the shows (Dance Plus). So that’s a banjo story.
You have produced Balak Palak which was also directed by Ravi Jadhav. How was your experience working with him, this time as an actor?
He is a wonderful director.
When we decided Banjo, I liked the fact that no one had ever seen me in a space like this.
This is by far the most rooted person that I have played.
What has been Genelia’s reaction to the film?
She really enjoyed it. We saw the film a couple of days ago.
Will we see you in a film with her soon?
I don’t know, hopefully.
I'd love to do a Marathi film with Genelia.
Your son Riaan was seen dancing in the making video of the song Rada Rada.
He enjoys dancing. I had not seen them for a long time so Genelia got him on the sets that day.
The song was playing on at the time, and he kept dancing to that song, that's it.
The characters you play onscreen, do they help you grow as an actor?
Since the day I started off as Taraat to my last day of shoot, I have grown within that character.
Everyday I used to go and think I’ll be a better Taraat. That will be the growth of learning.
You don’t shoot films in linear fashion; it’s designed according to schedules. Then you have to figure out how to play the scene, the emotion in it and all.
So many times in the film you see and think why you reacted this way, it’s vague as an audience and critic.
Sometimes as an actor you just do it and think ki pehle bataya kyu nahi, I would have probably played it down. Eventually, it’s my responsibility to know that because the audience will judge by what you show them.
They have paid their money and they want it to be worth it.
Your next film is Chhatrapati Shivaji and Salman Khan has a cameo in it.
My next two films are Marathi -- one is Mauli directed by Nishikant Kamat and the other one is on Chhatrapati Shivaji, to be directed by Ravi Jadhav again.
It was extremely gracious of Salman Khan to have offered to be a part of this without knowing exactly what part he would play. I respect the faith he has in me and our friendship.
We have started working on it but it’s too early to talk about.
It’s a huge responsibility to make a film on that personality (Chhatrapati Shivaji). It's not just the story but a lot of emotions are attached to that personality and his life. We are doing our full research and working on it.
At the end of it, we want to make a film that will help you understand that personality more.
Does Salman speak fluent Marathi?
We talk to each other in Marathi.