Sometimes you get all the time you need for an interview, and an abundance of riches, but other times you only get 5-10 minutes. But sometimes, even in that short time, you can get lucky and the interviewee will give some fabulous answers and that’s exactly what happened when we talked to Riteish Deshmukh. We only spoke for six minutes, but in that time he gave some great insights into Rann, his new film about the Indian media. The talented actor, who is known more for lighter and comedic roles, takes on a serious character for the Ram Gopal Varma directed film, which also stars Amitabh Bachchan, Sudeep, Paresh Rawal, Rajpal Yadav, Neetu Chandr, Gul Panag, Rajat Kapoor, Suchitra Krishnamurthy and Mohnish Behl. Here is what Mr. Deshmukh had to say about his role, working with Ram Gopal Varma, and what Rann is all about.
What was it about Rann that made you want to take the role in the film?
I think after doing a lot of comedy films and being associated with that genre for a long time, when you get offered a film like Rann, which is a serious take on media, that is directed by Ram Gopal Varma and with Mr. Amitabh Bachchan and Paresh Rawal – I think anyone would jump on a role like this.
From your character’s view, what is the story of Rann?
Well, the story of the film is a dilemma on how the news should be presented to the people. I play a character named Purab Shastri, an investigative journalist who is an extremely righteous guy, an idealistic guy. He believes that you need to maintain certain ideals in the field of media and the field of journalism and that the adulteration to this thing can lead to opinions formed by people, which may reflect wrongly in society. He believes that journalism is a responsible job and we as journalists should share the responsibility of what the country would be tomorrow. He really thinks that we should only believe in the correctness of media. Also, because media is a business, and running a channel is not a charity, you have certain mouths to feed, you have infrastructure, you have so many more things that go on that payments need to be made for, and that money comes from sponsorship or advertisements. All this money that comes in is the commercial aspect and when you understand commerce for a media channel, you might have to compromise on the ethics of it. So, it is a battle between the ethics and the commerce that is the backbone of the film. When Purab Shastri comes to a channel and is working for Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, he believes that he is the correct kind of person, but somehow in the film Mr. Bachchan is misled into saying some things which are not correct. And Purab Shastri is the guy who finds it out and starts investigating, which starts to lead to bigger problems. So, that is what the film is. There is conspiracy. There is chaos. There is a government at stake, which might collapse. There is a murder. There is an investigation; there are loads of things.
How was it working with Ram Gopal Varma?
It is outstanding because he is someone who believes in giving freedom to actors. He is someone who gives extra time and lets the actors do whatever they want to. He is also open to suggestions made by us to him. He will take them if he thinks they are right, but if they are not right, he doesn’t fall short of telling the actors that look, what you are telling me is wrong. A director of extreme clarity of thought and command over the medium: that is shooting the film, the editing, the kind of background score he wants for the film. He is probably one of the most talented directors we have today.
How was it working with Mr. Amitabh Bachchan?
I have worked with him in so many films before, and getting back again to working with him in a serious role is great! Tremendous respect I have for him as an actor. He is someone who, you know, every time you work with him you can only learn more and more and more. It is incredible. I am glad I get enough chances to work with him all over again.
How do you get into the skin of your characters?
You know, it is a serious role, and he is not a difficult guy because he is just any other guy, he could be in your office, he could be down the road, down the street. He is a common guy and he is actually talking about common men and how he represents the common man in the film is the story. He is not a complex personality. The only thing that makes life difficult for him is the fact that if he feels that the things he sees are in the right, he will go to any extent to prove that he is right.
What will audiences think of Rann?
I don’t know. I think they are going to enjoy the film because it is heart rending. It is an emotional drama. There is a bit of suspense, a bit of thrill. It is a typical Ram Gopal Varma drama-meets-thriller. So, yes, it should be an interesting watch.
What would your character ask you if he was interviewing you?
Oh, wow! I have no idea… I am sure he would be asking something complex. He would ask me if I have ever compromised my ethics as an actor or as a person while portraying a character.
Unfortunately that is all the time we had and I had so many more questions to pose to him. I certainly appreciate the marvelous answers he did give in the very short time we had for the interview. We are looking forward to seeing the more serious avatar of this fine actor in his performance in Rann. Make sure and check it out too! Rann opens on January 29th!