Monday, September 1, 2014

Emraan Hashmi

“I don’t source much of an identity from stardom. I want a break from Emraan Hashmi – the actor, after the pack-up.”

By Ankita R. Kanabar

While he may come across as extremely flamboyant, thanks to the characters he’s played on-screen with utmost ease, that’s not how it is! Meet Emraan Hashmi, and you’ll discover a completely new side to him. He loves his craft, and is attached to it in every way he can, yet, he is detached from it as soon as it’s pack-up! Probably that’s the reason why he steers clear from getting affected by the tags bestowed on him, or the image people have of him. In the middle of a busy day while he promotes his upcoming film, he takes time out to talk about Raja Natwarlal, with Humaima Malick. Presenting to you, Emraan Hashmi, in an extremely candid, witty avatar!

 What was your interpretation of Raja Natwarlal when you read the script and now when the film has released?
People have expectations and they assume something when they realise that it has cons in it, but what struck me about the film in the beginning and what strikes me after it’s complete, is that Raja Natwarlal is a very strong emotional story. It’s a dramatic film, and has the technicality of how scams function, all over the country, but the central crux of the film is a very strong revenge story. It starts with a very sweet romance, and how things fall apart, how the hero has to undo something, and teach the villain a lesson, and he does this through the technicality of a scam. Yes it’s a great con film, and I don’t want to sound very boastful, but it’s one of the best con films that you’ll see, inherently because of the way the script is. But it’s a film that’ll make you laugh and cry, because there’s a very strong emotion attached to it. I’ve seen it, and the audience is in for a real treat. It’s got romance, dramatic, fun, great songs, hero v/s villain conflict, kisses, and everything that you’ll expect my films to have (smiles).

They say that the mark of a good actor is when you as a person don’t reflect in your characters. But do you think it’s also important to bring in your individuality to each character you play?
There’s always a part of you, in every character that you play. It cannot be devoid of that, because that’s what gives a character, its individualistic characteristic. If there’s no part of you in it, it’ll be superficial, and it has to come from inside to make it believable. There’s a part of me in every character I play. Even if I play a psychopath on screen, there’s a part of me. I may not be a psychopath in real life, but there are negative emotions in all of us. As humans, we feel hate sometimes. There are times, where I’ve wanted to do something like that, but the society and a part of the culture tells you, that this is wrong. So this is where, we have to, as actors, tap into those things within us. Fortunately or unfortunately, I’ve mostly portrayed negative emotions on-screen, which aren’t the things you should feel in real life. But, even revenge is a kind of negative emotion, but in our film, it’s done in such a flamboyant and entertaining way that revenge has never looked so good.

It’s also being said that acting is a lot about reacting, do you agree to that? And so, how was it working with Humaima Malick in this film?
It’s only about reacting. The best actors are actors who listen, and very few actors actually listen. Most actors are mouthing dialogues, but the moment they don’t have anything to say, they look blank on-screen. Very few actors listen to their co-actors’ dialogues. And really, Humaima’s presence in the film has enhanced my performance, she’s an actor with a lot of depth. She has an inherent charisma, good looks, and the makings of star. She is already a star in Pakistan, and I’m sure she’ll do very well in the Hindi film industry also. She’s playing a bar dancer, and that could turn downright vulgar, but that’s why we cast Humaima in the film, because she makes a bar dancer seem human, respectable, vulnerable, and you feel for her. She’s a bar dancer, and she does it out of need, not for the greed for money. She’s stuck in this particular world, and this man takes her out of that world. Humaima has played the character very well.

So, at this point, after doing a number of films, most of them, hits, what’s your criterion to choose a film?
I think it’s important to find a fair balance of experimenting with films, in terms of the different kind of audiences that I can cater to, as an actor. For instance, Shanghai was for a niche audience, but a film like Raja Natwarlal is for the masses. Even my other films like The Dirty Picture or Murder were pitched to a larger audience. It’s important to find a balance between these two cinemas and that’s when I grow as an actor. Raja Natwarlal is as important as Shanghai, and I will always do a film like Shanghai, even tomorrow if I have to. The trade will tell me ‘ki yeh film utni nahi chalegi’, but it’s fine for me. It has a niche audience, so what! It’s a great film, it’s something that I’m proud of, it’s something that I’ll show my kids in the future. It might not be commercial, but it’ll always be in people’s minds.

While you’re very much a part of the industry, you’ve also in some way managed to stay detached from it. How does that work?
I don’t source much of an identity from stardom. I want a break from Emraan Hashmi – the actor, after the pack-up. I don’t want to take him home. I don’t want to keep him as a part of the my consciousness, when I leave a film set, and the only way I can do it, and find some sanity is by finding another life which is away from films. So, after I pack up, then that’s my time. It’s the guy who is not an actor. So, I will not go to a film party, and get myself into a world that I’ve just been a part of. I don’t know, it might work for other people but it doesn’t work for me. I need to detach from films, for my own sanity. Films are not only my life. I have another life away from it, and I enjoy that, as much as I enjoy films. I don’t carry that weight of stardom around, I’m not one of those actors.

And does that also help keep you grounded?
Also, it detaches me from both – failure and successful films. It’s not like success doesn’t make me happy, or failure doesn’t make me sad. They affect me, but you have to understand that it’s just a film and you have to move on because there are better things waiting, and there are going to be hits and flops, you are going to make mistakes. I think it’s important to just keep running and not stop.

As an actor, which is the most difficult emotion to portray on-screen?
I think crying is difficult on-screen. For reasons, that I don’t cry too much for real, it’s an emotion that I usually conceal. I may want to cry, but I know how to control that emotion. That’s the kind of person that I am. So, it’s very difficult for me to cry on-screen in front of people, when for real, I’m not very open about that.

What’s your process like? Are you an actor who likes to prepare before a film?
I’m a bit of both – I prepare and then I leave it to spontaneity on a film set. I can adapt, mould and be flexible on a film set. But I can’t do that if I’m not prepared before I come on set.

Tell me about the line-up of your upcoming films…
Mr. X is about to complete now. It’s about a dark super-hero, and a man who becomes invisible. There’s Hamari Adhuri Kahaani which is a love story, there’s an international film, which is complete, and we’ll be showing it by the end of the year.

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