Riteish Deshmukh has completed 10 years in tinselville. It was in the first Friday of January 2003 that his debut film “Tujhe Meri Kasam,” shot in 2002, was released — and proved a super-hit in Bihar and a hit in Maharashtra even though it did not do well elsewhere.
But “TMK” has a major significance in his career. Riteish hit it off instantly with his co-debutant Genelia (sometimes D’Souza, sometimes not, depending on box-office vagaries!). According to Riteish, they began seeing each other during that time, and later got busy separately, but reteamed for “Masti” (2004), their second film together, which also did well.
Riteish has had a checkered career since, with solo leads not working, but the actor proved quite a scene-stealer when put in an ensemble cast (“Dhamaal,” “Housefull,” “Apna Sapna Money Money”) and did fairly well for himself. Cast after a long gap in a solo lead in Kumar Taurani’s “Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya,” which releases Feb. 24, it was time also for a professional reunion with old flame Genelia on the sets when the film was being made.
Today, the couple are husband and wife in real life and the buzz is that romance rekindled while the film was being made.
“That’s not the case,” the son of politician Vilasrao Deshmukh clarified in a chat with India-West.
“I think we let our relationship build up over time. We were both occupied in our work. But we were also growing in our relationship. You adapt to the other person, and you begin to savor more and more of what you like in him or her. At one point, you start becoming and behaving like one person. And on the sets, the confidence and comfort level make it easier to even work together.”
The latest rom-com to roll in has Riteish playing what he terms is a “simple, straightforward rickshawallah, who loses all his money when he stands up for something. Genelia, he reveals, is a girl who has run away from her wedding and makes him kidnap her for a reason.”
Riteish’s tryst with comedies has virtually branded him as a comic hero. “What can I do?” he wants to know when we ask if he likes the branding. “I have done several serious films, ‘Rann,’ ‘Naach’ and ‘Aladin’ to name three, but they have to be successful, right? All my comedies of diverse types — ‘Malamaal Weekly,’ ‘Heyy Babyy,’ ‘Masti,’ ‘Dhamaal’ and its sequel ‘Double Dhamaal,’ ‘Kyaa Kool Hain Hum’ and ‘Apna Sapna Money Money’ — worked. Hopefully, I will be able to do some different roles now, like action, which I have never done since ‘Cash.’”
Riteish calls himself a director’s actor but trusts his instincts too. “I principally see the director’s conviction in his film,” he states. He enjoys, in fact prefers, doing workshops for a film. “You get the perfect pitch for the character. You get to know the sense of timing as well as your co-stars,” he explains.
His decade-long innings in Hindi cinema, he tells you, has been a great journey. “I think that I am in a happy space,” he says. “I have made some wonderful friends here.” Asked to name his favorites from the films he has done, he says instantly, “I loved ‘Bluffmaster!,’ ‘Tujhe Meri Kasam’ and ‘Apna Sapna Money Money’ in particular.”
At the moment, the actor can well be termed the sequel specialist. His only films on hand are “Housefull 2” and the sequel to “Kyaa Kool Hain Hum.”
From there, hopefully, he will get to do that action film he is keen on. So would he produce it? “I definitely intend to turn producer this year,” he answers, though he has no plans to direct any film in the near future as he feels that he lacks the “flair” for it.
And what about more immediate plans — like a honeymoon? “That’s on hold — we had commitments like the Celebrity League cricket matches and now the ‘Tere Naal...’ promotions. Let’s see...,” says the actor who has a degree in architecture and has never dumped his first profession.
“I have always been working in that field, but on one project at a time. Films were just something that I felt like trying out when an opportunity came.”
Now that’s some achievement for someone who has completed 10 years in this field, and whose wedding was attended by the Who’s Who of the film world.