Emraan Hashmi who completes 18 years in the film industry is now at the threshold of a career makeover. Satiated by his serial-kisser image, he is now looking at roles that take him down a different road from the one he has already taken. His son’s illness and blessed recovery has made him question the whole rigmarole of success and failure. Is it truly worth it? He questions himself. His latest performances in Tiger and the more recent, Why Cheat India which is of a very authentic texture, marks the beginning of his career makeover. He says these roles are an attempt to do something different with his skills whatever they may be as an actor, “At this juncture I don’t need to be known by the number of times I kiss my heroine,” he quips.
The actor also turned producer for Why Cheat India to explore new characters and new stories, he says, “I had been planning to turn producer for two years now. I felt this (Why Cheat India) was the right opportunity to plunge into production. It is relevant as it addresses the rot in our education system. I feel as an actor and a producer I need to address issues that go beyond entertainment.”
But these feats come amid the many storms in his personal life especially his son Ayaan’s illness. “My wife and I were struggling with our son’s illness. Now he’s finally fully cured. I think this is my greatest success. No amount of box-office hits or other worldly joys can equal the happiness of seeing your child healthy again,” says the dotting daddy.
The first month after his son fell ill, Emraan and his wife Parveen took him to Canada for treatment. But even in the face of these trying times, his wife encouraged him to return to work while she stayed with their son. “I could think of nothing else except his health,” expresses Emraan. The acting projects, however, helped him cope with the grief, “It was actually a relief to escape into another character’s life and problems as long as the camera was on. Once the camera was off the reality of my ill child hit me all over again. Thankfully he is out of it now,” he says with a heart full of gratitude.
For the first 12 years of his career, Emraan was cast in a certain mould. But now, he is eager to redeem himself from the lip-chewing serial kisser image.
“The smart thing to do is to go with your gut instincts,” says the actor whose film Why Cheat India was borne out of this very same instinct. “I had enough of the serial kisser image. But the problem is, when I continued doing it people said, he is doing the same thing again and again. When I tried something different, they missed the old image. So it’s a bit of a pull in contradictory directions. Why Cheat India is a refreshing change for me as an actor. And I hope the audience sees it that way,” he hopes. As an outsider, his journey was definitely not easy, but Emraan is determined to raise the bar for himself.
“When I did something like Murder no one else was doing it. Now I am working in a film called The Body directed by Jeethu Joseph. Again it’s something out of the box, my discomfort zone. So, at this point of time I’ll only do a script that enthuses me,” reiterates the actor.
In the world of PR machineries and brand building, what sets Emraan apart from other stars is that he doesn’t feel the need to endorse himself or indulge in overtly promoting his films. “I don’t see the need to shout from rooftops about my achievement. I let my work speak for itself. There are so many actors who were successful without the social media. But then, to each his own,” he asserts.
In August this year, he will appear in a Netflix series based on Bilal Siddiqi’s The Bard Of Blood. “This is an entirely new experience for me,” he says, “and I am very excited since this is a new platform for me,” he adds.
The digital platform seems like a looming threat to the big screen and the debate of a digital storm usurping cinema halls has got directors, actors and audiences thinking about the future of cinema. But Emraan opines, the pleasure of viewing a film on the big screen is unparalleled. He narrates, “Every platform has its place. Nothing can replace the pleasure of viewing a film on the cinema. However if the viewer wishes to binge watch on an OTT platform then that’s the format, which we must take seriously. Right now it is a consumers’ market and so many actors are getting a chance to express themselves. Earlier it was just film and television. Now there are so many platforms for actors.”
During the past year, the old guards crumbled and a new generation of actors has taken over. Ask the actor where he sees himself in the new scheme of things and he says, “I am glad there is so much new talent coming in. It is important for our industry to get new talent. For someone who has been around for 18 years it’s nice watching new generations of actors coming in.”
Emraan is in no competition with anyone else, it is evident when he says, “this is a good time for all of us to reinvent ourselves.” He continues, “I am switching gears and swimming with the tides. The world and the entertainment industry have changed. I don’t even think of the competition. It’s just me in competition with myself. I am solely concerned with my own work.”