Bollywood actor Emraan Hashmi talks about his choices in cinema and his upcoming two releases Raja Natwarlal and Tigers.
Since your last two films, Ghanchakkar and Ek Thi Daayan, didn’t do well at the box office, did that prompt you to go back to commercial fare like Raja Natwarlal?
Even if those films didn’t get the desired box office results, they worked for the niche audience they were made for. Raja Natwarlal is a formulaic, massy film but it’s also the best con film you will see in the country. At the end you only have five stories to tell, it’s the way you tell them that makes the difference. Raja Natwarlal gives the con movie a kind of flamboyance that Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai gave to Mumbai gangster movies.
Tell us about the role.
It’s a David vs Goliath scenario, where a man from the streets takes on a larger than life villain. He’s got a talent of conning people and he uses that device to bring this man down. Raja has an emotional context as to why he does what he does.
Shanghai and Ghanchakkar brought out a side of you that many of us had sensed, but not seen before.
Shanghai pitched me to a certain multiplex audience, who hadn’t woken up to my existence. Actually I always wanted to do these kind of films. I may have a mass following, but I am not a traditional mass actor. People who meet me off screen don’t see me as a hero of the masses. My personal tastes are different. I am the kind of guy who would go to watch a Shanghai. I am currently watching a lot of TV series such as Walking Dead, Homeland, Breaking Bad and True Detective. I end up doing a Murder because it’s targeted for the mass audience who bring in the numbers. I do films like Murder for my bread and butter. My sensibilities are more attuned to international cinema. I don’t like over-the-top performances.
Did the box office failure of these films hurt?
It always does but then you can’t have an upward moving graph all the time. Ek Thi Daayan was an experimental horror while Ghanchakkar was black comedy. You can’t expect a big commercial box-office success where the hero is slapped throughout the film and in the end doesn’t even get the money. Our audience hasn’t evolved that much. Every film can’t translate into numbers and box office. But I grow as an actor with every film. The growth shows even when I am playing those cool urban characters in other films because of the theatre exercises those films and filmmakers made me go through.
What kind of theatre exercises continued…