Riteish Deshmukh talks about his latest releases, love for comedy and making the progression to a solo hero

Riteish Deshmukh is a bundle of energy as he rattles off answers in English, Hindi and Marathi fielding questions on everything from his current movies to campaigning for his father, in the forthcoming assembly elections.

Despite a slew of upcoming releases, Riteish is cool. “I’ve grown in confidence,” he smiles. “That’s bound to happen with time, with newer scripts, with the exposure to different kinds of actors and with adapting to directors with different sensibilities.”

Over the years, with movies such as Bluffmaster, Apna Sapna Money Money and Heyy Baby, Riteish has built a reputation for himself as a comic actor. Ask him if his forthcoming Do Knot Disturb was a cakewalk, and he replies with characteristic diplomacy: “I enjoy comedy and, sometimes, when you enjoy doing something, it doesn’t look like you are making an effort. As for growing beyond comedies, my forthcoming films explore other genres,” he says.

Fair enough. Riteish will be seen as Aladin in Sujoy Ghosh’s fairytale adventure-drama Aladin, as the romantic lead in Milap Zaveri’s Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai and as a serious journalist in Ram Gopal Varma’s Rann, before returning to the comedy genre with Sajid Khan’s Housefull.

For someone who is called the Govinda of the new generation, was it unnerving to work with the prolific comic actor? “With me, it works like this. When I realise on the sets that a certain actor is much better than me, I give up. There is simply no comparison. All I need to do is give my best, so as to not let the scene down with my bad acting,” he admits, adding, “The day people compare another actor to me and say that here is the new Riteish, that’ll be the ultimate flattery.”

Riteish may have a lot of films in his kitty, but the only films that have worked for him are multi-starrers. When does he plan to strike gold with a solo? “That’s for the directors to answer. But, times are really better now. I started off as the fourth or the fifth hero in a film. Then they made me the third hero with Heyy Baby, after which I did a film such as Apna Sapna Money Money where I was the driving force. Now, Do Knot Disturb is a two-hero movie, and next year, finally, there will be Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai, where there’s just me!” he laughs.

Working with veterans such as Amitabh Bachchan ( the genie in Aladin), Sanjay Dutt (the Ringmaster in Aladin) and Govinda (Do Knot Disturb) must have been exhilarating? “The good part is I have now spent almost half a dozen years and worked in many films before doing something with them. It doesn’t help too much when you are standing in front of Mr. Bachchan, for instance, but you can hold your scenes together,” he says, candidly.

Two of Riteish’s movies release this month — Do Knot Disturb today and Aladin on October 30. Does it make him nervous to have two big projects within such proximity? “I am just sad that none of the movies is a solo release. One works so hard on the films, and then to have them compete with each other is quite disheartening.”

His forthcoming RGV film Rann has been attracting more controversy than a bowl of honey that sounds out the bees. First, dad Vilasrao Deshmukh, who was then Maharashtra Chief Minister, came under severe criticism, and allegedly even lost his job, for taking along Riteish and the director to the Taj hotel after the terror attacks in Mumbai last November. Then, RGV released a song based on the National Anthem, called Jan Gan Man Rann — the Censor Board has refused permission to air it. Riteish looks none too pleased and snaps: “I don’t want to speak about it. I have made a statement then and there’s nothing I want to add to or subtract from it.” Needless to say, end of interview.