'My audience is used to seeing me as a cocky, brash guy,' says Emraan Hashmi, and talks about new movie, Chehre

The actor says he wants to take on roles that people are used to seeing him play and is in no rush to sign films as he wants to do quality work with quality people

Roshmila BhattacharyaUpdated: Friday, July 09, 2021, 09:00 PM IST
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At the age of 21, Emraan Hashmi admits that he had no idea what direction his life would take. “I was so confused, it was a scary place to be,” he reminisces. When his uncles, Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt, offered him Footpath, he accepted it, still unsure if acting was what he wanted to do. However, despite the presence of Aftab Shivdasani, Bipasha Basu, Irrfan Khan and Rahul Dev, Emraan, as the gangster Raghu, was the scene-stealer in this 2003 crime thriller.

Followed Murder, Kalyug, Aksar, Gangster, Jannat and Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai and Emraan found his niche in Bollywood as the bad boy everyone loved. Then, just like Footpath’s Raghu, he wanted to turn straight, and over the last few years, has been experimenting with Hamari Adhuri Kahani, Azhar and Why Cheat India. While there’s no faulting his performance or commitment, these films did not bring him the adulation of his earlier cinematic outings. And that’s what has brought about a change in the game plan.

“Right now, I want to give my audience what they want to see rather than try something new like Why Cheat India. That’s not the Emraan they like, they are used to seeing me as a cocky, brash guy… Romance, hard-hitting dialogue, catchy music, an entertaining commercial film for a mass audience, that’s my USP,” he promises.

He had a release earlier this year, Mumbai Saga, which had him playing a cop. The movie got off to a flying start despite the pandemic, but then the errant coronavirus brought on a devastating second wave and theatres in Gujarat and Maharashtra downed shutters less than two weeks of its release. “But those who couldn’t see the film in the theatres watched it on OTT and loved it. It’s a masala, action-packed gangster movie, which would have gone down well with a mass audience in normal times,” the actor points out.

Emraan’s next is Anand Pandit’s Chehre, in which he plays an ad executive who is forced by a snow storm to take shelter in Amitabh Bachchan’s house. There he finds himself drawn into a real-life game of Clue by the octogenarian and his friends and before he knows it, it’s not as innocent as he had believed.

The mystery thriller was scheduled for a theatrical release last year in July, then, on April 9 this year, but has been delayed due to Covid. The trailer has sparked off a lot of interest and Emraan is confident that no matter when it comes, it will do well.

“Chehre is an out-of-the-box, entertaining film with stellar performances. We were 15 days away from release when the second wave struck. After waiting this long, we would obviously like to reach the theatres, but now people are talking about a third wave. Even if it were to come on OTT, I know it will grab as many eyeballs, maybe more as that audience has evolved over the past year-and-a-half. It will be a hit,” he states.

And what’s the status quo on his Indo-American co-production, Harami, which premiered at the Busan Film Festival in October 2020? The actor sighs, “It was to go to more festivals after Busan, but most were cancelled and the road map of the film has changed. But it will be released this year for sure on any platform.” Emraan plays an English teacher whose life takes a U-turn and Sagar bhai becomes the ringleader of a gang of teenagers, who pick pockets in Mumbai locals and hoodwink foreign tourists.

Emraan made his OTT debut with the Shah Rukh Khan-produced Bard of Blood. There’s nothing in the pipeline at the moment as far as web series go. “I’m in no rush to sign anything, I want to do quality work with quality people so I’m taking it slow. But I’m open to good content, be it films, TV, OTT or even a song,” he asserts.

Emraan’s Lut Gaye, is the fastest single to garner 500 million views in just 60 days. “It’s a historic milestone!” he whoops. “A synergy of talent, soulful melody and high production values, it’s among the most viewed Indian/Bollywood songs of all time. Before that Main Rahoon Ya Naa Rahoon also did very well,” he reminds you.

So, will we see him on a song again? “If it’s a good song, sure. I have some memorable chartbusters in my repertoire. But there’s no pressure as such. The secret to success is to cash in on the right time,” he signs off.

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