An Open Letter To Riteish Deshmukh

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Dear Riteish

It’s exactly one year to this day when you surprised me and the entire industry with your chilling performance in EK VILLIAN. June 27, 2014, I’m sure is the day you will never forget. That was, to me, your biggest Friday professionally. You surpassed your expectations as a performer and I know the kick it can give a creative person.

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It’s a high of knowing that you broke the standards you set for yourself. Every creative person is his or hers biggest critic. The appreciation that followed would have only been the icing on the cake. Not to mention the awards.

Every actor lives for this, and then to push himself some more; for that surreal place where he can call his own-his zone! Every actor reaches there at least once in his lifetime.

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Surreal for Amitabh Bachchan [according to me] was AGNEEPATH; for Al Pacino, SCENT OF A WOMAN, and for Kevin Costner, THE UNTOUCHABLES.

I know you are in a space planning another surreal move. For that to happen, you have to have the right script and the right director. Intense directors are aplenty today in Bollywood, good scripts are a rarity. And that is what makes your performance in EK VILLIAN even more laudable. You waded through a weak script to give a clean twist in the tale as Rakesh. You came out of nowhere to save the blushes for Mohit Suri. You were mean, dynamic and played the psychotic role to the ‘T’.

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Apart from performing on screen, you have also moved to creating good content. That was seen in your first Marathi venture BALAK PALAK, two years ago.

With BP, you marked your debut as a producer and it was heartening to note that you have set out to make meaningful cinema. We need more such producers using movies to educate and entertain.

In 2005, I remember interviewing you at Varsha, the Chief Minister’s official residence. I came not because I was in awe of your performance or happy that you had pipped Paresh Rawal for the Best Comedian Award. I was aghast that you had won [I can tell you this today :)].

But that one meeting with you changed my perception of you. I realized that you were not someone to throw your weight around and that you were grounded in your beliefs and a tad embarrassed that you had knocked off a stalwart like Paresh Rawal at the Awards.

What struck me most was your easy-going attitude even as the boys around the bungalow interacted with you whilst we were doing the photo shoot. You were in your sleeveless tee, exposing the non-existent biceps!

If June 27, 2014 was your big day professionally, five months later, November 25, 2014 was your BIGGEST day emotionally.

Happy seven months on being a dad, Riteish and all the best for BANGISTAN.

Comedy is your forte and Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani are intelligent producers. With a team like this, you can expect cackles at the box office.

But then, you never know. Every Friday has a different story to tell!

God Bless You
Martin D’Souza
(This weekly column tries to be as honest as honest can be…)

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