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'I used to rub vessels, pots and pressure cookers as a child'

Last updated on: October 29, 2009 15:14 IST

'I used to rub pressure cookers as a child'

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Nithya Ramani in Mumbai

Ritesh Deshmukh has rarely rubbed people the wrong way in Bollywood. So when it came to rubbing lamps, he got that right as well.

The actor gets to romance newcomer Jacqueline Fernandez in this Friday's release Aladin, with some help from Amitabh Bachchan. Directed by Sujoy Ghosh, the film also stars Sanjay Dutt.

Ritesh tells Nithya Ramani about the film, and his nerdy ways in it.

Sujoy Ghosh said that you were involved right from the inception of the film. How did you get involved?

Sujoy said that he wanted to work with me. He didn't have a story with him at the time. We met up, and discussed what to do. He saw DVDs and posters of (the animation film) Aladin in a shop in J W Marriott. So he suggested that we make the film.

I was initially skeptical because no one has done this before and everybody knows the story -- Aladin, the magic lamp, the genie and the three wishes. So Sujoy decided to change the story a bit. He told me that his Aladin hated lamps and he doesn't ask for wishes. He only asks for Jasmine, but without any magic. His name just happened to be Aladin but he had nothing to do with the fairy tale character.

This Aladin is the story of wishes coming true. It's about the evil Ringmaster, who is an ex-genie, and trying to regain his lost power and capture the world.


Image: A scene from Aladin

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'Everybody hopes to get a lamp and get his three wishes fulfilled'

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But why make Aladin hate lamps in this film?

We wanted to make it our version. Sujoy wanted to combine Aladin and Alibaba and Chalees Chor and so named the first draft Aladin and Chalees Chor. That was a futuristic film with robots and clones.

After four or five drafts, he came up with Khwaish and Aladin and the magic lamp. You might think that the genie is Aladin's slave but our Genius (Amitabh Bachchan's name in the film) behaves like he is Aladin's master.

So what is your Aladin like?

As a boy, everybody hopes to get a lamp and get his three wishes fulfilled. As you grow older, you forget about it and move on. Not many think about it at my age.

But when you're working in films and suddenly someone asks you to play Aladin, why won't you? I was excited and game for it.

I used to rub vessels, pots and pressure cookers (hoping a genie would come out) as a child. But nothing came out. The only time I rubbed a magic lamp that Sujoy gave me, I got a genie in the form of Mr Bachchan. What more could I have asked for?

Aladin represents all those who don't have the courage to go up to a girl and tell her that he likes her. I was just exactly like that. This Aladin cannot stand up to a bully.


Image: A scene from Aladin

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'Sujoy's head is like a magic box'

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How is Sujoy as a director?

I haven't watched Jhankaar Beats (Ghosh's debut film, a big hit) but I've watched (the flop) Home Delivery. I liked it. I have worked with quite a few directors in my short career. What I think is most important for a director is clarity of thought -- especially when you are doing something different. A lot of filmmakers take a safe route by doing certain genres of films. But when you have to push the envelope and do something different, there's a lot of responsibility on the director.

Sujoy's head is like a magic box. The kind of ideas that come out of his head, I've never heard anybody talk like that. For instance, magic carpet and Aladin go hand-in-hand. But the magic carpet wasn't fitting in our film, so we were wondering what to do.

That's when Sujoy thought of how to make it a part of the film. Genius is explaining to Aladin what magic is all about. Aladin is sitting on a carpet. Genius snaps his fingers and the carpet lifts up, flies round and comes back to its position.


Image: A scene from Aladin

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'When I was new, I really had to prove myself'

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How was it working with Jacqueline Fernandez?

Sujoy knew he wanted someone very pretty for the role -- so that when she walked, everybody stopped and stared.

It's very difficult for a newcomer. When you are a newcomer, there are a lot of forces acting on you. When I was new, I really had to prove myself. For her, it was more difficult -- it's a new language, new country (Jacqueline hails from Sri Lanka), new people, new culture The only thing she had going for her was her hard work and confidence.

She took acting, dancing, speech and diction classes and worked very hard. There were times when Amitji fumbled his lines, I fumbled mine, but Jackie would never fumble.


Image: A scene from Aladin

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'Amitabh Bachchan is a child at heart'

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How was your experience working with Amitabh Bachchan?

I'd worked with him in Darna Zaroori Hai. He is the best we have and is a living legend. When you watch him work on the sets, it's a pleasure to be around and learn what he does. He is perfect.

I have the most scenes with him in Aladin. Working with him is like a new experience every time. Every day, there is something new to learn from him. Even at this age, he is a ball of fire and enthusiasm. He is a child at heart. He is vibrant and full of energy. I am working with him in my next film Rann as well.

What are your favourite scenes from the film?

There is a scene where I'm trying to ask Jasmine to the student's ball. The only time I get to ask her out is when she is training for karate. And then I land up in front of her accidentally.


Image: A scene from Aladin

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