Emraan Hashmi: It was a confusing time when two films- Why Cheat India and The Body didn't work, hit me hard - Hindustan Times
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Emraan Hashmi: It was a confusing time when two films- Why Cheat India and The Body didn't work, hit me hard

ByRishabh Suri
Mar 23, 2024 09:10 AM IST

Actor Emraan Hashmi opens up at length about his career, the highs, the lows, and everything in this chat with HT City ahead of his birthday on March 25.

Emraan Hashmi turns 45 two days later, on March 25. That means he was all of 24 when he was nudged by his uncle (filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt) to get into films. And there’s been no looking back ever since.

Actor Emraan Hashmi poses for HT City at his Mumbai house.(Satish Bate/ HT)
Actor Emraan Hashmi poses for HT City at his Mumbai house.(Satish Bate/ HT)

As we settle down for a no-holds barred chat at his plush Pali Hill apartment in Mumbai, he looks younger than he did in his first film. His film choices on the other hand, have changed:

COMFORTABLE SPACE AGAIN?

Hashmi recently garnered good reviews for his performance in the show Showtime. Before that too, he had a resurgence with Tiger 3 in 2023. Ask him if the current phase in his career is a comfortable space all over again, and he quips, “It has always been. I have never felt extremely stressed with the situation. I have always been secure, even if I probably felt that films are not faring as well at the box office. I believe this industry and profession is fair, if you are a thorough professional, you do your work well. Eventually work will flow in. As far as I am concerned, I am in a happy space because of the kind of offers I am getting. They are more acting oriented than uni dimensional star based. I have done things which people found disastrous in my career, like doing a Shanghai between Murder 2 and Raaz 3.”

‘TWO FILMS NOT WORKING HIT ME HARD’

Hashmi had an entire genre to himself- his earlier string of hits like Murder, Jannat, Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai- all had an intense story, great soundtracks, kissing scenes, until one flaw would lead to his downfall. However, Hashmi shocked everyone when he started changing gears. Why Cheat India? was about the education system, Ek Thi Daayan was a horror drama, and of course, Shanghai.

The years between 2016-2023 though weren’t too kind. Films such as Ghanchakkar, Raja Natwarlal, Baadshaho didn’t work. It must have been a confusing phase for him, we say, since he was still the same actor, making different choices and none were connecting.

“The audience was shifting maybe,” he says, “OTT had started creeping into the foray. There were films which were going into the above average tag, right up to Azhar, it clocked in 38 crores, decent number. What really hit me was a film like Why Cheat India? not working. I did something different, but OTT was coming in, people were engaged with that material on the medium. I was hearing chatter like ‘films like this are already on OTT’. I didn’t play up to the star, showcased my acting chops- people didn’t want to see me doing that. It was a confusing time for me. I can’t give a clear answer. I don’t know if the audience’s taste changed or OTT- it was a bit of everything.”

Hashmi mentions another film whose non performance disappointed him. “Why Cheat India? did wonderfully on OTT, and people around me said ‘we told you do, you gave them a film which people consume on OTT’ I don’t blame the audience for that. Then a delayed film, The Body. And then Covid happened, the world changed, everyone had to recalibrate,” he says.

‘PEOPLE WHO WATCHED MY EARLIER FILMS ARE MARRIED NOW’

Why didn’t Hashmi just stick to his template of films, from a commercial point of view? Fans loved him in the ‘bad boy’ avatar, why move away from that? The answer isn’t simple, as Hashmi explains, “It wouldn’t have done well beyond a point, and it didn’t. Audience is ever changing. If you keep serving the same meal to the audience, they are going to get fed up of it. Probably we couldn’t find variations in it, or people moved on. I was in a different time in my life, I felt I had done enough of that. The creative aspect superseded the commercial. Films were doing well, but I was not really enjoying beyond a point. Challenging yourself is what an actor is all about. If you don’t, before you know it, the audience will boo you out.”

Hashmi points out that the then younger lot of viewers, who loved his kind of films, are married now. So he has an entirely new fanbase to cater to. “Now there’s a Gen Z, millenial audience. People grow up, a younger audience comes in. Their tastes have changed. I can’t expect them to see the same mould of characters on screen. Their heroes are different, they watch OTT. I got to give them something new, up my game, otherwise I will sink,” he smiles.

Does his teenager son, Ayaan, help him in keeping up with the times? Emraan laughs, “I take a lot of things on myself. Actors react to the material out there. I am thankful to makers who are serving me fresh content. Things are changing.”

 

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