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Riteish: Don't remember the last comedy that was critically acclaimed

June 26, 2014 14:08 IST

Image: Riteish Deshmukh in Ek Villain
Sonil Dedhia/ in Mumbai

'I don’t want to stop being part of comedy films because I enjoy doing them. But when something like Ek Villain comes along, it excites you. The success or failure of Ek Villain will decide how I am perceived within the industry from here on.'

Riteish Deshumukh gets ready for Ek Villain.

The kind of films Riteish Deshumukh has done so far may lead you to believe that he is the ‘funny’ type, but the actor is now ready to venture into a zone he has not explored before.

After his comic turn in Humshakals, Riteish will play a negative character in this week’s release Ek Villain.

Sonil Dedhia caught up with the actor, as he spoke about the success of Humshakals, why both critical and box office success is important for him and how how he’s hoping for big changes post Ek Villain.

Congratulations. Humshakals is doing well at the box office.

Thank you. It’s too early to call it a hit but we’re getting there slowly.

Ek Villain is set to release just a week after Humshakals. Are you worried that the two films might eat into each others businesses?

Yes. For me, it’s not a good thing. I wouldn’t have worried if the movie hadn’t featured me. But that’s part and parcel of the business.

There are other factors to consider, like Ramzan will start in a few days. I know the producers have taken the right call, but I also know that I’ll be hurt in the crossfire.


'With Ek Villain, I'm hoping for both critical and popular acceptance'

Image: Riteish Deshmukh in Ek Villain

Which film will be better received: Humshakals or Ek Villain?

Received better by who is the big question.

Humshakals released last week and critically, it has not received as much acclaim as we had hoped it would.

But the fact that it has made Rs 40 crore over the weekend shows that people want to watch the film and have fun.

With Ek Villain, I’m hoping for both critical and popular acceptance.

What do you think of the Rs 100 crore syndrome?

It’s great. It’s not a syndrome. But the question is which is more successful -- making a film worth Rs 70 crore and then earning Rs 100 crore or making a film in Rs 10 crore and earning Rs 60 crore.

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'Everyone thrashed my comedy films'

Image: Riteish Deshmukh in Ek Villain

Does the negative criticism of Humshakals bother you?

In retrospect, I think it is okay. Some critics loved it and most of them didn’t.

Every critic’s opinion matters. Perhaps our content didn’t have what they were looking for.

When we make a film in the comedy genre on a big budget, we think about catering to every age group.

I don’t remember the last comedy that was critically acclaimed. Everyone thrashed my own films -- Grand Masti, Housefull 2 and Kya Super Kool Hain Hum.

Wow! I have been in a terrible critical scenario (laughs).

But your performance in Humshakals was appreciated the most.

(Smiles) Thank you. But coming back to what I was trying to say, the critically acclaimed comedy that you make might not be ‘massy’ enough and the massy comedy might not go down well with critics.

One needs to just accept what one gets and leave it to the people to decide if we were right or wrong in making the film.

'The success or failure of Ek Villain will decide how I am perceived within the industry'

Image: Riteish Deshmukh in Ek Villain

What matters more -- box office success or critical acclaim?

Actually, it is the story that attracts me to do a film.

When you choose a film, you often know whether it will be a box office success or critically acclaimed.

For example, when I produced a Marathi film Yellow, I knew that it might receive critical acclaim because it was a sensitive story. But with Balak Palak (his first Marathi production), which was another great story, we managed to gain critical and commercial success.

My next Marathi film Lai Bhaari is a massy film and critically it won’t be in the zone of Yellow or Balak Palak.

So you’re happy producing films the critics will like and starring in ones the masses will love and which will be a hit at the box office?

Look, I would love to be in a film like Balak Palak or Yellow but there were no roles for me.

And as for those made by others, the films assured of critical acclaim... well, none came to me as an actor.

Do you think that perception about you as an actor will change after Ek Villain?

I hope so. I don’t want to stop being part of comedy films because I love them and I enjoy doing them.

But when something like Ek Villain comes along, it excites you.

The success or failure of Ek Villain will decide how I am perceived within the industry from here on.


'Ek Villain is the darkest character of my career'

Image: Riteish Deshmukh and Siddharth Malhotra in Ek Villain

Siddharth Malhotra mentioned that you helped him a lot in the film.

Yes, I was his punching bag (laughs). There is a scene in the film where I am dying and he has to hit my chest hard to revive me.

He is hitting me on my chest and Mohit (Suri, the director) is shouting from behind the monitor, ‘Hit him hard’ and I am lying there, not supposed to move and pretending to be dead.

I thought I am sure I will be dead by the end of the scene! But it’s great to have an actor involved and he is a young and talented actor.

Who is your favourite Bollywood villain?

I particularly loved Shah Rukh Khan in Darr. I was a teenager then and his character was so identifiable.

There were reports that you were unsure about taking up this movie?

That’s not true. What I was unsure about was whether Mohit was sure about me (laughs).

You know, you think that because you’ve created a certain image for yourself, you will be approached only for certain films.

But, thankfully, there are directors out there like Ram Gopal Varma who cast me in all kinds of movies, barring comedies.

There’s an Anubhav Sinha, who gave me my first action film with Cash.

And then there’s Mohit Suri who cast me in Ek Villain. It is the darkest character of my career. It is the most interesting role of my career. These directors look beyond what I have been known for.

It’s a great era of filmmaking and what makes it better is that audiences are also excited to see something different, like Govinda plays a dark character in Kill Dill.

I am really looking forward to that film only because of Govinda.

'I think anyone is capable of killing anyone'

Image: Riteish Deshmukh in Ek Villain

In our last interview, you mentioned that shooting for Ek Villain was mentally challenging for you.

Yes, it was. When I started playing this character, I couldn’t identify with him. No one could because it’s such a dark and serious character. But once I got into the groove, I started believing more and more in it.

I remember shooting for a scene and I was completely in my character, I had a screwdriver in my hand and was convinced that I could kill anyone with it.

It really scared me. But suddenly the director said ‘cut!’ and I got busy over the phone and the entire environment changed.

I think anyone is capable of killing anyone. But society is largely of good people because we are educated and can differentiate between good and bad.

Now that you have successfully been an actor and a producer, do you have plans to become a director?

No, yaar. When you act, you own a part of the film, when you produce it, you own it all.

When you’re directing, you’re the creator. I don’t know if I am ready to be that yet.

That said, now that the germ has been planted, maybe I’ll go on a set and start attempting to think like a filmmaker! I guess my training starts from now (laughs).

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