Thursday, July 10, 2014

Riteish Deshmukh: Not your average Bollywood rich kid.

So, Eliza commented that it was interesting that I liked Riteish so much when he seemed like the kind of guy I'd usually rag on for just being a rich kid with good connections. In theory, it's a fair observation but it's overlooking something critical--Riteish himself.

Bollywood as a welfare/jobs program for rich kids with no drive or ambition is one thing; rich kids who use their connections to get a foot in the door is another. And it's not like Riteish got shoved down our throats as THE GREATEST HERO EVER with starring roles in daddy-funded production after daddy-funded production. After a tepid start where he was rejected as a leading man, Riteish did comedy films, supporting roles, and basically any work that came his way. I totally respect that.

Even though Riteish got his start as the son of a powerful man, that's not what defines him for me. Riteish is exactly the kind of odd looking but talented guy who could never have stepped foot in front of a camera without connections. Let me tell you something, the first and only time I watched Bluffmaster was the first time I set eyes on Riteish and he was the only thing I liked about the film and I liked him A LOT. Riteish really excels at getting the audience--or at least me--to feel what his character is feeling. He's very expressive, has a great sense of comic timing, and is a giving actor. Put him in a scene with wooden star sons and he'll do his god-dammed best to make something magical happen.

Ritiesh has talent; he works hard; and he clearly loves and respects all types cinema.

So what if he got his start because of his connections. I love Hrithik, too.

For a guy like Ritiesh, his father influence to get a foot in the door is no different than a guy like John Abraham using his good looks.

What I can't forgive are star sons and rich boys with no talent, no drive, no appreciation for cinema. The ones who seem to think they are entitled to be heroes. The ones who refuse to accept the verdict of audiences and try a different path. The ones who refuse to take lessons, to dance, to LEARN HOW TO ACT. The ones who are condescending and use a semester in LA or New York and a full collection of Hollywood DVDs to mean they know EVERYTHING about film.

Anyways, I'm happy Riteish is getting praise for Ek Villain. I've loved him since 2005 and I think I was the ONLY person counting down to his solo-starrer Aladin (which is still one of my favorite films) but whatever, Bollywood, you're welcome to jump on my bandwagon.

I posted this… about a month ago but since the film is coming out AND I'm talking about him… let's watch it again!

See, this is what I love about this guy--tired of playing the same-old "urban" comedy roles? MAKE YOURSELF A MASALA FILM IN MARATHI! *dishoom-dishoom*


odadune said...

I think that's a fair distinction-I don't think anyone can watch Riteish onscreen and come away with the impression that he doesn't want to be there, or thinks he is entitled to a particular kind of role. Aditya Roy Kapoor for instance kind of does, although he's at least talented. Imran Khan, poor SOB, just seems like he'd rather be somewhere else, and although that works reasonably well for the roles I've seen him in, I feel kind of bad for him.

The general social Darwinism of the industry will weed out most of the unfit ones, just as it has in the past, so I'm not overly worried about that. My own problem is that I'm too much of a reactionary to enjoy characters whose USP is their "youth"-I usually prefer men to boys, and from the 90s onward it seems like the producers and the audience want their guys to be boys as long as possible.

Filmi Girl said...

Yeah, social Darwinism works… eventually. But for some of them, money/influence keep them in the game for far longer than they should be.

The men vs. boys thing is another issue for sure. Although most of the time it feels like "youth" is conflated with "immaturity" which is really unforgivable once the "boys" starting pushing 30 and beyond.

Filmi Girl said...

I forgot to add!!

My thing has always been: a 20-year old kid who doesn't know what love is can be cute but a 40-year old "kid" who doesn't know what love is (i.e. Saifu in his recent rom-coms) is just an immature jackass.

odadune said...

Yeah, I can tolerate the immaturity when it's played for laughs (slapstick comedies about over the hill man-children) or called out as such (my interpretation of Saawariya and Baand Baaja Baarat) but a lot of the films about immature guys seem to be about them eating their cake and still having it, or glorifying situations where the woman gives the worst man she can find unlimited power over her life. (I personally think Aashiqui 2's take on relationships is at least as bad of an influence as the comedic stalking in a masala film.)

And yeah, I get kind of frustrated by the 90s veterans' inability to make their age a USP instead of a liability. The post-WWII Hollywood movies did a good job with this: the idea that Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, etc were cool, experienced guys with exciting lives who could sweep a woman away into an exciting life. You see glimpses of this here and there-Akhtar's Don movies maybe, Murgadoss's Holiday and perhaps his older film Ramana-but I think the Indian film industries have yet to fully explore this idea.

Saif is particularly frustrating because you have this well-dressed, well-spoken, fortysomething blueblood whose fans love him for those traits and whose leading ladies rave about how chivalrous and well-read he is, trying to pass himself off as a competitor to Ranbir Kapoor in the funloving boy division. All he needs to be a successful romantic lead is to be himself and to hire a DP who can film him in a flattering way.

Thelondongirl said...

"The ones who refuse to take lessons, to dance, to LEARN HOW TO ACT. The ones who are condescending and use a semester in LA or New York and a full collection of Hollywood DVDs to mean they know EVERYTHING about film." Abhishek anyone? seriously i admit to not being much of a critic, but it wasnt until Dhoom 3 that i realized what everyone had been saying, dude cant act for shit. Ritesh is not someone i like or dislike, i can take him or leave him. Whats this about his connections being the same as John Abraham using his good looks?? EH. nah son, theres a billion good looking dudes in around Mumbai that disagree. I digress.

Filmi Girl said...


a lot of the films about immature guys seem to be about them eating their cake and still having it, or glorifying situations where the woman gives the worst man she can find unlimited power over her life.

^^ SO MANY "rom-coms" are like this and it's so frustrating. And I agree 100% on Saifu. There are a lot of stories you could tell using his slightly seedy, patrician image AS a grown-up instead of trying to shove him into some manic-pixie-dream-boy box.

I do wonder at the lack of grown-ups in films these days… do producers think only kids go to films? I love the men you see in South--Vikram, especially. Not a touch of "boyish" in sight.

@TheLondonGirl (You said it, not me!! LOL! I agree, of course re: Abhi.)

The good looks thing… I was thinking more like it takes more than connections/good looks to make a career but it can help get your foot in the door. And having a dad like Riteish's is kind of like the equivalent of winning the Gladrags Mens competition. It will open doors for you… but, yes, point taken. ;)) There are lots of handsome men knocking on talent agency doors in Bombay.

eliza bennet said...

Thank you for clearing it up. I seem to remember that you like Vivek too (now that one started nicely but somewhere along the way, went to the dark side)

As for Abhi, I'm not going to defend his acting or dancing skills, but he is hardworking, he doesn't claim to be the perfect actor, he has great charm and manners and does a great job of supporting Aishwarya in whatever she decides to do (not that she needs his support) And for some reason he appeals to me the way Riteish does to you. And one more thing, he can act if he is directed nicely - and I'm not saying this in defense of his acting but there are films in which he gave great performances so he is not a total loss yaar.

The first time I saw Riteish was in Naach and I immediately thought he must have had some serious connections to be on screen (not that I thought he was not good looking or anything, it was just a feeling).

As for Hrithik I actually forgot that he was connected. And I think if there is one guy who is currently working in cinema and is successful not necessarily through his connections that is Hrithik. And this coming from someone who doesn't even like him that much as an actor. He has the looks, he has the charisma and he has the sincerity. Also if there is one thing I like about his acting is that he doesn't try to dominate the screen, he likes to share and is generous toward his co actors on screen (a characteristic not easily found in Indian cinema, the only other superstar I see who does it is SRK).

And I like Ranbir too (didn't in Saawariya but he won me over in The Rocket Singh). But I don't think he'll have the chance if he was not a Kapoor.

Also I do agree with the natural selection. The bad ones eventually have to leave.

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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