Important to not burden any film with actor's fees: Riteish Deshmukh

The actor is set to make his series debut with Pill
Riteish Deshmukh in a poster from Pill
Riteish Deshmukh in a poster from Pill

Not burdening a film with star fee can decide its survival and of those engaged in making it, says actor-producer Riteish Deshmukh, stressing that he doesn't charge a single penny when he casts himself in a project backed by his banner.

Riteish, who is set to make his series debut with Pill, ventured into film production with the 2013 Marathi movie Balak-Palak under Mumbai Film Company. He later starred in Lai Bhaari (2014) and Ved (2022), both Marathi titles produced by his stable.

Asked to comment on the ongoing debate about rising star fee and overhead costs, the actor-producer told PTI: "I'm a producer who casts me and I don't pay myself, so I'm fine... I just feel that it's important that you do not burden any film with an actor's fee because the film needs to survive. And if the film survives, everyone will survive."

Helmed by director Rajkumar Gupta, Pill showcases the dark reality of the pharmaceutical world of making medicine from the lens of medical officers and whistleblowers.

Produced by Ronnie Screwvala under his banner RSVP Movies, the series will start streaming on JioCinema Premium from July 12.

Rajkumar, known for films such as Aamir and Raid, said the overall cost of production needs to "come down".

"The money needs to be spent in the right place. Having said that, there also needs to be transparency from the studio or producer's side. A lot of times what happens is people don't want to subscribe to a model because they think that there is no transparency,” he said.

"As an industry, we all need to come together to go to another level. We need to make films on a budget which works for everyone," the director added.

Ronnie, known for backing films such as Swades, A Wednesday, Udaan and Uri: The Surgical Strike,  said he chooses to look on the bright side.

"I don't disagree with anything that everyone is saying because when you're trying to look at the different things that actually take the industry to the next level, I think we're at that cusp. So, I don't look at the cup that is half empty, I look at the cup that is half full. There's a lot that we need to do across the board,” he said.

"(But) You can't take one factor because there's a lot that's happened to the cost of production... A lot more production happened in the last four years and a lot more things got greenlit. It's an ecosystem. When you're taking the overall ecosystem up to the next level, you will always have some anomalies," he added.

Pill, set in north India, will see Riteish play the role of a medical officer called Dr Prakash Chauhan.

The actor said he worked closely with a dialect coach to get into the skin of the character.

"Raj sir was very clear in terms of how he wanted me to be. My first approach was, 'Can I have a beard?' He said,' I am looking at you just with a plain moustache. I don't want a beard.' It wasn't about how I wanted to approach it, but (about) how I could probably fulfil how he's looking at the character in terms of the look, behaviour, body language or the way he spoke,” he said.

"In fact, he had a particular dialect. So, I had a dialect coach on the set every day. I used to rehearse my lines to get the diction correct. I'm so glad that they, as producers, as directors, provided me with everything that would help me better myself as an actor,” he added.

Pill also features Pavan Malhotra in a pivotal role.

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