Exclusive: 'I hope filmmakers see that I can play such intense roles' - Emraan

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Emraan Hashmi has had a tough run of luck with his films, 'Mr X', 'Raja Natwarlal' and 'Ungli' not working with audiences. Yet the actor is upbeat about his forthcoming intense role in ‘Hamari Adhuri Kahani’, and the biopic of cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin. We talk to Emraan about his turn towards intense acting and substantial roles.

So far, the response to the music of 'Hamari Adhuri Kahani' has been positive. Since most of your hits have had popular music and the recent releases haven’t done well, are you hoping for this film to work with audiences?

Yeah (smiles) I am hoping that the film that we have made goes out there and as many people see it this time. Everyone has worked quite hard on it. It’s a special film for different reasons. Bhatt Saab (Mahesh Bhatt) has written a film after a long time and it’s a different space for me as an actor. Everyone has worked extremely hard in it. Everyone (the actors) is also scared because of the key of this film. We had to be very real in it, instead of being efficient which all actors are. It’s very real in content. It was semi autobiographical for Bhatt Saab and it kind of got like that for all us. We had to draw from real incidents and events of the past, something that has happened to us to portray these characters.

While working on this film and playing Vasudha, Vidya said she had begun to notice real women who lived in unhappy marriages, and were constantly dominated (by men in their lives). However, your character- that of a selfless lover – won’t have too many reference points. How have you prepared for it?

I think the shades of the character I can connect with is, how you know we all get stuck in this world where everything is about ambitions, and about making money and end up ignoring people who bring happiness to our lives. I think we have all felt that sometimes in our lives. And we’ve all, at some point of time, loved selflessly in relationships. I could connect with that. Even if an exact feeling or moment from the character’s life was new, the essence- of pain and tragedy in my life- is not unfamiliar. I have played tragic characters in the past too. That was very important to draw from.

Mohit Suri, the film’s director, said that this is the first time he is working with honed and experienced actors. And this is your third film together. Did familiarity help in playing out these intense scenes?

In this film, you go with your gut when a scene starts and then you’ve got to react. You can’t really go by the book. In this film, we have let the characters react; how Vasudha reacts to a scene or how Aarav might do something that he hasn’t done during the rehearsal. So we had to leave that space in a scene. The director let us do it. We had the support system of a great script & great lines; I think that makes the job slightly easier. So the tough part is getting real on screen. Any actor will tell you this that sometimes, when you have to cry onscreen, you can’t just turn a tap on. That requires you to be in a zone before you arrive on set. You have to think up of an moment that would bring tears before you come on to set, then sort of erupt on set. I think we fairly achieved is- all of us.

Has it been equally tough playing ‘Azhar’- or is the focus on getting his game right?

It’s the part of getting the game right and also about his personal life. He is as exciting off the field as he is on the field. And this film has got moments of drama and emotions, and it’s about the thrill of winning the game. I do feel the pressure of playing Azhar, a real person. Thing is, there are so many instances in his life which we have to encapsulate and put in a two hour film. Obviously, we take the most interesting bits and then amp up some of it so that it works. Most of it we will keep as it is, and some portions will have to be tweaked just to get it right. Some people will always criticize us for this one, but I, as an actor, have to go with my instinct. There are a 100 ways I could have played Aarav or Azhar; I have to find that one way which works convincingly and just go with that.

But it’s a huge responsibility, greater that any character that I have played so far, to play Azhar as people know him. You have to get the gait right, the walk right, get every shot & every leg glances right; probably can take a few cinematic liberties on how Azhar cries onscreen for people haven’t seen him cry ever (smiles). But otherwise, most of it has to be accurate.

Why has the film struggled to find a leading lady? It sounds like a promising part. Names like Jaqueline Fernandez and Nargis Fakhri have been linked to playing Sangeeta Bijlani.

You know, first of all, I don’t even know if these girls have been approached to play this role. Everyone is more obsessed with who isn’t doing it rather than who is! The makers haven’t really come out and announced who will be playing this role. A lot of media speculation has happened.

With 'Hamari Adhuri Kahani' and 'Azhar', you would have displayed serious acting range again. What kind of films do you hope to work in now?

Many projects have come my way but I haven’t’ okayed anything. I am taking my time with scripts and reading them. I also think the film industry needs to wake up to something different that I would be doing. And these two films are an avatar of mine that haven’t been seen yet onscreen. With ‘Hamari Adhuri Kahani’, I hope that an impression of me not wanting to play such an intense part is removed, and filmmakers see that I can do these roles too. Having played this part, I am spoiled for choice now. I can’t play superficial parts now. I have touched emotions in this film that I haven’t’ touched before. Having watched this film, I hope to get more such intense parts. This will take time- people first see a film and then start writing in that fashion & scene that way.

The last few months have been tough for Hindi films with many big budget projects failing at the box office. You tend to work on films with controlled budgets always. What do you make of this situation?

This phase is actually very good as it has shattered the arrogance of a lot of people in the industry. It breaks the conception that perception is all you need for a film to do well.

The star system, which in a manner I am part of too, needs to realize this- if the content is good, a film will work. If the content of a film isn’t good, no one can make a bad film work. Even lots of marketing don’t help. At the same time, a good film gets positive word of mouth & this spreads like wild fire.

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