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Riteish Deshmukh Diversifies into Thrillers with ‘Pill’

In a significant departure from his established image as a comedic actor, Riteish Deshmukh is making waves in the entertainment industry with his latest venture, a hard-hitting medical thriller titled “Pill.” Known for his ability to deliver laugh-out-loud performances, Deshmukh is pivoting towards more serious and impactful roles, proving that reinvention is not only possible but essential for sustained success in the film and television world.

The decision to take on a project like “Pill” hinges not just on a desire to escape the confines of comedy but also on a resonating subject matter that grabbed Deshmukh’s attention from the start. “Pill,” directed by Raj Kumar Gupta, allows him to delve into the murky depths of the healthcare industry, an uncharted territory for Indian web series. In speaking about his new project, Deshmukh articulates, “People in India see medicine and mandir ka prasad in the same light. We’ve all read about unethical practices in the pharmaceutical industry, and most companies will pay people to keep it hidden. I’m glad that Raj and Ronnie Screwvala [producer] thought it is important to reflect on this issue.”

For Deshmukh, “Pill” marks his debut in the web series space, but he is no stranger to tackling complex narratives. Gupta, the director, has previously shown his flair for blending real-life events with fictional storytelling in films like “No One Killed Jessica” (2011) and “Raid” (2018). This time, he merges the pulsating tension of a thriller with the weighty elements of a courtroom drama to bring to life the tale of a deputy medicine controller who battles pharmaceutical giants and corrupt seniors to expose a drug with severe side effects.

Deshmukh explains, “Raj doesn’t just give you a thriller; he also shows you the process. In ‘Raid,’ he depicted the entire process of how a raid is conducted. Similarly, here, he shows the way in which my character and his team expose the nexus. We are used to exaggerated drama, but we’ve kept it as real as possible.” The authenticity extends to the rigorous preparation the role demands. Reflecting on an intense scene he had to shoot, Deshmukh recalls, “The climax was a 10- to 12-page scene. Prepping for it reminded me of school days when I’d stay up nights to study. In the morning, I gave the shot in one take.

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With a career spanning 21 years, Deshmukh brings a wealth of experience to his craft but also an openness to evolve and adapt. Transitioning to a genre far removed from his comedic roots requires a level of maturity and self-assuredness that Deshmukh appears to possess in spades. Although he took a foray into direction with “Ved” (2022), acting remains his primary passion. “I want a bit of thehrav in whatever I do. Comedy needs timing, but I want to explore different facets. Earlier, I would rush into comedy, but I don’t do that now. After my directorial venture, I have only worked on two projects,” he explains.

Deshmukh’s journey reflects the broader trend in Bollywood where actors are no longer bound to a single genre or typecast in a specific role. The industry itself is evolving, with audiences showing a keen interest in diverse and challenging narratives. This shift has opened doors for actors like Deshmukh to showcase a wider range of talents.

His involvement in “Pill” also underscores the growing importance of web series as a medium for storytelling. Platforms like JioCinema are giving filmmakers and actors the creative freedom to explore subjects that might be considered too niche or risky for mainstream cinema. The digital space allows for a deep dive into topics that resonate with contemporary societal issues, providing a fertile ground for hard-hitting dramas like “Pill.”

The underlying message of “Pill” resonates beyond the confines of the web series medium; it is a commentary on the real-world implications of greed and corruption in industries meant to serve public good. By choosing to be a part of such a project, Deshmukh not only broadens his artistic horizons but also contributes to a growing dialogue around accountability and ethics in the healthcare sector.

As Riteish Deshmukh steps into this new chapter of his career, he continues to inspire both the audience and his peers, proving that versatility and a willingness to take risks are key components of enduring success in the ever-evolving world of entertainment. His journey from comedy to thriller signifies not just a personal transformation but a broader shift in how actors can, and should, navigate their careers in the modern era.