The fact that Bollywood is attempting more subjects than ever before will be illustrated by big Bollywood film Bangistan, which will be released across cinemas next Friday (7).
The interesting looking comedy sees Riteish Deshmukh and Pulkit Samrat play bungling terrorists on a mission to save the world. Riteish talked about the satirical film, comedy, inspirations and more.
You are very much in demand, but what attracted you to Bangistan?
Bangistan has an interesting and quirky script – it takes satirical comedy to another level. At the same time and despite the comedic elements, the story has a strong underlying message highlighting the futility of violence, religious divisions and cultural prejudice.
I believe that presenting and positioning the film with a comedic edge helps to bring forth world issues and themes that are not easily digestible. And I hope we achieve this with Bangistan.
Tell us about the film and your character?
This movie is basically a comedy satire about two terrorists who are on a mission to save the world. It is about two Bangistanis who are brainwashed by local religious rag-tags and sent on a mission to disrupt the world peace conference taking place in Krakow, Poland. On this journey they realise the futility of religious divides, and end up as heroes.
I play a Muslim man from the fictitious country of North Bangistan called Hafeez bin Ali, who has been brought up with an ultra-conservative Muslim background, where he works unhappily at a makeshift call centre.
Ali, an introspective young man, is frustrated by the stereotyping of Muslims in the world, and is a passive member of Al-Kaam Tamaam, a ragtag Islamic terror group of young Muslims, headed by the wily Abba Jaan. For this mission, Hafeez takes on a masked identity as a Hindu and trains for it accordingly.
Is this a risky subject to make a movie on?
I hope this film won’t cause controversy. The subject matter might be a little sensitive, but it is important for us to be open-minded and listen to the message the movie is promoting. Some of the aspects of the film do mirror real world problems and hopefully we can educate people in a subtle manner using satirical comedy as a means to do so.
What kind of comedy can we expect?
There are a lot of satirical jokes in the film as well as many spoofs. For example, ‘Star*sucks Coffee’ is there instead of Starbucks. ‘Keep Calm, I Am Not A Terrorist’ T-shirts are also present and McDonalds is replaced by ‘FcDonalds-Killer Fast Food’, and the statue of McDonald is that of a terrorist. There are scenes like this in the movie that appear every now and then to keep audiences entertained. This film is basically a never-ending list of comedic situations and banter. It is pretty quirky, tongue in cheek and has a few leg-crossing moments.
Who will this film appeal to most?
I think it will have universal appeal, perhaps with a bias towards the youth or millennial audience or more vocal. The youth are aware of social causes and are more active with their involvement in society. So I think they would definitely be interested to watch Bangistan.
What was the biggest challenge of acting in the film?
The challenge to take on a script that’s not really been attempted before. I guess more than a challenge, it’s an opportunity.
Would you say that you are at your best doing comedy?
Well, I think you would be a better judge of whether it’s my best skill, but I certainly do get a kick out of doing good comedy films.
What is the secret of delivering a great comedy performance, since you clearly know?
(Smiles) Well, thank you so much. I think if you rehearse your comedy too much, your performance will appear robotic and over practiced. So I think it’s better to just go with the flow and see how the situation is and act accordingly. Then your performance is more natural and the humour comes from within. As they say, it’s all about comic timing.
As an audience member, what kind of comedies most make you laugh?
I enjoy watching funny people, be it on the big screen, TV or real life. Stand-up acts are the ones I like the most.
Looking ahead, what is the plan, because you have been mixing things up?
I tend to choose projects that I would want to see as an audience. As an artist, I want to try my hand at different genres instead of being typecast – so I go from a Marathi drama to a thriller like Ek Villain, to an out-and-out traditional comedy like Housefull.
Will you play any more darker characters?
It all really depends on what films are offered to me. I do love crossing over to the dark side and did so recently with Ek Villain. Hopefully I get offered a character as exciting as Rakesh from that film.
You are now a family man now. Has that affected your cinematic choices?
As an actor, you play roles that are different from your real self – it is basically the definition of being an actor. So I don’t really take my characters too seriously in that sense. They stay on set. I choose my roles based on what interests me and what excites me as an artist.
What is happening on your home production front?
Well, we have had a very interesting and good run and I am eternally thankful to the audience for their love and support. We have a few good scripts on the floor and in no time, I will announce my next endeavour
Is directing a movie something that you would consider?
(Smiles) Hmmm, let me think. I will tell you when am ready.
Which of your many performances is closest to your heart?
Every movie that I have done has had some significance to me, so it’s like you are asking me to choose my favourite child. That is a question I won’t be able to answer, I’m afraid.
What most inspires you today?
I have a very loving and supportive family and it really inspires me to do better and be a better person. I constantly push myself to be the best I can be to make them proud. They’re my biggest source of inspiration.
Do you have any non-cinema ambitions?
Art and architecture.
Why should we all go watch Bangistan?
If you want laugh-out-loud moments that at the same time make you think about the anarchy in the world, then Bangistan is for you.
Finally, why do you love cinema?
Because it has so much depth, breadth and endless possibilities. Your creativity is limitless and as a profession, it is pretty challenging – who would have thought you could be living so many different people’s lives in one lifetime? People can be very complicated and can have many layers, so as an artist I like to dive right in there, identify with and project a multitude of identities onto my medium, which is cinema.
Bangistan will be in cinemas on August 7.