Born with a political lineage, Riteish Deshmukh chose films as the medium to stay in public life. In his latest release, Banjo, the architect-turned-actor, plays a slum-dweller, who strums the instrument by the same name. “I have never played a role like Tharat before; it’s also my first musical,” says Riteish, he wanted to give his character a rock star look and even learnt the Banjo for the film. “I knew about the instrument as I had seen an artiste play it during the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. He used to keep a blade between his teeth and play. I have tried to experiment with that in the film. I have also blatantly copied Maestro Zakir Hussain for the role. I loved his head movements in the Wah Taj commercial. My character is a little inspired from Mauli of Lai Bhari and the Amitabh Bachchan of the 70s,” says Riteish.
Though the role seems to be in complete contrast of the actor’s upbringing, Riteish disagrees. “It’s a wrong perception people have because my father was a chief minister. Not many know that I was brought up in Latur and I have played in cow dung. I have ploughed fields and played like every villager. I had the privilege of good education, but my core values were middle class. Once you have that upbringing, you won’t have any inhibitions to do certain things. I have played with mango seeds.
We would throw in a ring and hit it with a stone. I can relate to that life,” says the actor who will be sharing screen space with his Housefull co-star Nargis Fakhri.
Looking back at 13 years in Bollywood, Riteish says he never thought he’d make it beyond a decade. “I thought I would just scrape through with my debut venture, but then I started working with stalwarts. I got to know my craft better which gave me confidence. After Ek Villain, I am looking for scripts that are concept-oriented. I realised that the audience is ready to see me in different roles.” And language is one barrier which Riteish is ready to break. “I have done a Marathi film and that was a hit. Now I am doing Mauli 1 with Nishikant. I am also planning my next venture, Raja Chattrapati,” he adds.
Riteish, who married fellow actor Genelia D’Souza four years ago, owes his success to her. “We have been together for 14 years; ten years of courtship and four years of marriage. Whatever I have achieved so far has been because of her. I would have not been able to concentrate on my career if it was not for her. I know she takes care of my house and children, and I just don’t have to worry about anything. I hope she takes up acting now that the children are growing up.”
Fatherhood, he says, has changed a lot in life. “Your responsibilities double up. I do try and spend time with them. I go to my son’s school, but Genelia does it more often. I want them to experience the life I have had, so I take them to Latur every now and then. I want to them to know that there is a vast difference in seeing plants, cows and nature in books and seeing it in real,” says Riteish.
Lastly on taking up politics after his father and brother, the actor says, “Never say never. I love politics and keep myself updated, but I have not considered taking it up seriously.”