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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Riteish Deshmukh on Marjaavaan: “The Most Larger-Than-Life Character I’ve Ever Played”

Riteish Deshmukh, the son of late Maharashtra CM Vilasrao Deshmukh, has come leaps and bounds in his life journey.

In his initial days, the 40-year-old actor made us laugh in some notable comical roles in hit movies like Masti franchise, Kya Kool Hai Hum, Heyy Babyy, Dhamaal and Housefull series.

Regardless of a film’s big starcast, Riteish manages to leave an impact with his performance. But his serial killer act in Ek Villain proved his true craft as a performer. 

Almost 5-years-later, Deshmukh is set to unleash his dark side as he plays a dwarf gangster in Marjaavaan, which is dubbed to be “a violent, dramatic love story”.

Filme Shilmy caught up with Riteish to talk about his role, career and acting calibre.

After the success of a comedy like Housefull 4, how creatively satisfying is it to do a larger-than-life masala film like Marjaavaan?

I think it’s important for actors to do different kinds of roles. Despite that I’m three feet tall, Marjaavaan is the most larger-than-life character I’ve ever played.

It’s fun to be in a space where you’re angry, dark and have a sense-of-humour and it’s a great combination to play that on screen.

This is the first time you’re playing a vertically challenged character. How did you ensure that his height does not become the focal point of the role?

Even when we shot the film, after five minutes, you’ll forget that and just view this as a person who is a part of the movie.

You’ll understand his insecurities which stem from the reasons that he is short and one will understand his hatred towards Raghu (Sidharth’s character).

My character tries to make things difficult and that’s where the larger-than-life drama plot kicks in.

Most of the time we shot on my knees… It all depended on the type of shots we were doing.

Each shot I had to do five times. Sometimes I had to stand on my knees at the same shot with and without Sidharth, other co-stars.

At times I’d be standing in front of the green screen… It was physically straining.

How challenging is it for an actor to unleash their dark side whilst playing a villain?

It is important to understand where the character is coming from and where their darkness is stemming from.

Especially the anger and hatred. Once you understand the psyche behind it, then you can start developing the body language, looks and demeanour.

All these things start building slowly and creates a role that the audience would enjoy watching on screen.

Sometimes an actor questions oneself: “are you capable of such darkness too?” Because one plays an evil character with so much conviction.

At times it can have an impact on a person.

But then you snap out of it and be thankful for the ability to differentiate between good and evil as well as being able to live in a society with others.

Your height is short and Tara’s role is mute. It’s interesting to see characters who are physically challenged… Any particular reason for including such angles?

Everyone who has a handicap whether it’s the inability to talk or a height issue, in Sidharth’s case he plays an orphan, raised in negative circumstances.

None of these characters is sorry for who they are. They don’t feel sorry for themselves and try to live like ordinary people.

It’s just that the situation (in the film) is as such that it makes their life difficult.

Let’s talk about your career. You began as a non-experienced actor to now, where you’ve created a space for yourself in Marathi and Hindi cinema. What has been the greatest learning for you throughout this process?

The greatest learning for an actor is to be hungry to do exciting stuff.

It’s important to respect the workspace you’re in, the time as you’re working with hundreds of people.

So if you’re late, you’re wasting someone else’s time.

Plus, it’s pivotal to respect your co-actors and enjoy the work you do.

I cannot stress enough to NEVER EVER be disrespectful to the work that you do. One must always give more than their 100% to the work.

The day you’re lazy, it will come across on screen and the audience will never be happy if you’re lazy at work.

How has maturity from fatherhood helped you as an actor?

Fatherhood teaches you a lot… It teaches you about unconditional love, being more patient and your kids teach you how simple life is.

They prove how happiness means is beyond materialistic things. 

We tend to overanalyse the character and unintentionally complicate the characters

If an actor can look at their performances with that much simplicity and keep it simple, this can add beauty to it.

It’s important to not overthink things. Also, I think children can teach us more than what an adult can. 

Fatherhood really gives a depth of sense and maturity. It’s wonderful to be in that space.

From one action film like Marjaavaan to another such as Baaghi 3, which will be your first time working with Tiger. What can we expect to see from this?

Hopefully, in Baaghi 3, you’ll see a strong bond between brothers.

As one of the writers have said that the relationship between Tiger and I is similar to the iconic film Ram Lakhan.

I feel that in this film, you’ll see a different relationship of brotherhood.

Plus, I hope to be exploring high-octane action, immense and emotional drama, which is something I’ve not done before on screen. 

So I look forward to doing that. 

Listen to the full interview with Riteish Deshmukh here:


Marjaavaan showcases Raghu (Sidharth Malhotra) and Zoya (Tara Sutaria) enjoying their lives together until a gang leader with harmful intentions (Riteish Deshmukh) turns their world upside down.

The film is directed by Milap Zaveri and releases worldwide on 15th November. It also stars Rakul Preet Singh. 

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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