A slow & steady climb

Bollywood buzz

A slow & steady climb

You could well call him the ‘adult’ star, without the international connotation of that word: Emraan Hashmi has always done films not only with liberal kissing scenes but also other bedroom sequences, and of course, largely adult-friendly subjects.

What has kept him going, apart from his fan base, is the way his (usually) modest-budget films keep raking in the moolah — from Murder in 2004 to Zeher, Kalyug, Jannat, Raaz-The Mystery Continues, Murder 2, The Dirty Picture, Raaz 3 and Jannat 2, besides Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai.

Emraan has hit a dull box-office patch of late, with films like Shanghai, Ghanchakkar, Rush, Ek Thi Daayan, Ungli, Raja Natwarlal and Mr X all tottering at the box-office.

However, the actor is far from stressed as he declares, “I detach myself from my films later, and flops do not disturb me as I give my 100 per cent to each film. And though it is important not to get demoralised, hits can make you complacent. Flops make you fight and come back with a bang. I hold my failures closer than my successes. And as everyone knows, I have had a slow and steady climb. In my debut film Footpath in 2003, I was a supporting actor to Aftab Shivdasani and Rahul Dev.”

Recalls the actor: “When Mahesh (Bhatt) uncle and Vikram Bhatt offered me Footpath, I first declined it. But they asked me to reconsider, and I did. Then on the first day, I needed 30 retakes, out of sheer nervousness, for my first shot, which was with Aftab. From a painful beginning like that, acting has now become a passion. The acclaim gives me a high. And now I love cinema. I love sitting in on the editing, and if I had not become an actor, I would have worked on visual effects and graphics. I have even done a course in 3D and Maya! Films run in my blood and my grandmother Purnima was a well-known character artiste in her time.”

He adds, “But I never really got a warm welcome in the industry. It was a slow and steady climb, especially after my initial films outside Vishesh Films, my uncles Mukesh’s and Mahesh Bhatt’s banner, did not work. I was criticised and written off. But then I got offers from Milan Luthria, Ekta Kapoor, Madhur Bhandarkar, Dharma Productions and UTV and they had to admit that I was not some fly-by-night actor. Please name anyone you know who was a supporting actor in his debut, a villain in his second film that was a super-hit, and still went beyond his home banner.”

Emraan is also undeterred because from 2009, he decided to strategically reinvent his career. “The first film was Once Upon…, and I know that when one explores or experiments, once can repeatedly fail too, and so it takes a decent number of films to make a mark. Then comes the turnaround.”

Mr X, in which Emraan played an anti-terrorist cop who becomes invisible due to a mishap and avenges the wrongdoers responsible for his situation, was his first 3D film. “And it was a great learning process. I had to shoot one scene in 20 different ways to add depth, and this was my first attempt at doing a VFX-heavy film in which I was digitally removed after the shoot in many shots, and also my first in which for a week or so I had to apply layers of latex that took three hours to put on every day and 45 minutes to remove.”

But the actor feels that the trouble was worth it, as his five-year-old son Ayaan loved the film (“I kept holding the 3D glasses on his face as they were too large and kept slipping off!”) and also because it is his first-ever “family entertainer”.

About his next film Hamari Adhuri Kahani, he states, “It has really shaped up well, and it is the first time that I really got to spend so much time with Vidya Balan. In The Dirty Picture, we barely had two sequences together, and mostly interacted only during the promotions. Ghanchakkar went wrong, so this time we hope to create the intensity needed for a love story. Of course, Mohit Suri is my cousin and I have a great equation with him, as our earlier films like Murder 2 have shown.”

Emraan’s English film Tigers will release soon in India. He is also shooting playing Mohammed Azharuddin in his bio-pic Azhar. But, will he ever take a next step, like direction or production?

Categorically negating any chances of taking up direction, Emraan says that as of now he will continue to act and do nothing else. “When a truly out-of-the-box story presents itself, in which the script makes me want to own it so that I can have a say in everything and prevent variables from messing it up, I might take up production. That’s not happened yet, and right now, I would think that it is too much of a responsibility.”

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