After getting rave reviews for Netflix show Bard of Blood, Emraan Hashmi is back on the silver screen with a crime thriller titled The Body. Directed by Drishyam fame Jeethu Joseph, The Body is an adaptation of a Spanish film by the same name. Apart from Emraan, it also stars Rishi Kapoor, Sobhita Dhulipala and Vedhika Kumar.
In an exclusive conversation with indianexpress.com, Emraan talked about the film, working with Rishi Kapoor, Jeethu Joseph and others. He also spoke about recreating Aksar song “Jhalak Dikhla Jaa” for The Body.
Excerpts from the conversation:
You have been a part of crime thrillers before. What makes The Body different?
The story and cinematic language of the film are extremely different. With the kind of thrillers that have been coming out in the last five-six years, the audience has become very smart and ahead of the curve in gauging what the director is going to do. Even before the suspense revelation, they (the audience) know exactly how the story is going to pan out. In those terms, The Body is extremely unpredictable. There are so many twists and turns that you would not know how it is going to end. So, that is something new with this film.
Any of your thriller films which you think did not get enough attention, and why?
I think all of them got immense attention at the box office. For me, the out-and-out thriller that I did was Murder 2, which released in 2011. It was a huge hit. Even Zeher (2005) did well. So, I guess they (films) have got their due. I also believe they were path-breaking films of that time.
The Body is your second collaboration with Sobhita Dhulipala. Has the equation changed between you two since Bard of Blood?
This was the first project actually. We shot this and then we started to work on Bard of Blood. She has a great understanding of cinema. Though Sobhita claims that she has watched only 15-20 films in her life, I do not believe her. She is very professional and a good actor to work with.
How was it working with Rishi Kapoor?
It was an absolute delight. I have always looked up to Rishi Kapoor as an extremely natural actor. He performs with such ease, which I got to see in person. I am more of a studied actor while he is more spontaneous on the set. He learns his lines on the set and gives his all (to the film). He is an absolute gem of a person. People have a perception that he is extremely erratic and volatile, but on a one-on-one basis, he is a great person and co-actor.
Did you ever see him losing his cool on the sets?
Yes, there were moments when he blasted off on people. But it was justified. Hindi film sets can be extremely undisciplined. So, he sets them in order. He also shouted at monkeys once. That was the most surreal experience I have had (smiles). Monkeys were being unruly, and we were in the middle of an important scene. We could not do the scene properly because they were screaming. So, he yelled (at the monkeys). The monkeys were in shock and ran away. (laughs)
The film has been directed by Jeetu Joseph. Is his working style any different from other Bollywood directors?
First of all, people from the south Indian industry are extremely professional. Always on time and sometimes before time. I like that because I like to come on sets on time and leave on time. He (Joseph) has an astute understanding of the genre because he has done thrillers before, especially Drishyam which went onto became very popular. He understands the story beat of thrillers, which is a gift especially for a film like The Body. It is an adaptation of a Spanish film, and you need the right director to kind of Indianise the script while keeping the elements of the story without fiddling around much. So, I think he has been successful at doing that.
Over the years, we have seen you picking up variety of roles, moving away from films Emraan Hashmi was once known for. Was it a conscious choice?
Yes, I really want to do stuff that is different from me as an actor. I want to do stuff that challenges me and offers something different to the audience. I do not want to repeat. Even my forthcoming films are different from what I have done so far. I think it is important to constantly look at the element of surprise in the projects you pick. I want to continue doing that.
Somewhere did you want to move away from the ‘serial kisser’ tag?
Not really. I am also doing it in this film. I am not running away from it. If it is required in the film, I do it. That’s it
How was it recreating “Jhalak Dikhla Jaa” for The Body?
It was surreal and nostalgic. I was a little anxious before we shot it because I was like, ‘how will it match up to the original track.’ However, after I heard the track, I got a lot of confidence. It is rendered very well for the present generation. Also, I was skeptical about me as an actor recreating my own piece of work as that has not been done before. I eventually dived into it as I love the song, and it was important to give the millenials a certain taste of what music was some 16 years ago. So, I am happy that they are lapping it up.
But are you a fan of recreations?
I don’t mind it. There is an economic side to it also. They climb faster on the charts. Not that a new creation won’t. I am all in for new songs. However, it is okay to throw in a remix once in a while. Sometimes you can destroy an original. So, we did not mess with the lyrics (of “Jhalak Dikhla Ja”), just worked on the tempo.
As an actor, what is your take on the emergence of OTT platforms?
It is a boon for every actor because anyone and everyone is just constantly working now. For some actors, it is difficult to grab a film sometimes. Such actors are getting to test their skills on the OTT platform. Cinema will always be there. Television is always going to be there too. However, they have to pull up their socks as far as content goes as OTT is offering good content. And unlike television, you are not enslaved to the broadcaster timing. With OTT, you either watch one episode any time of your day or just binge-watch it away, which is a good thing.
You have some mixed views on the growing web space and the opportunities it offers.
I do look up to it. Any platform for a performer is important to broaden the resume because at the end of the day, the medium is not important. What’s important is to play good characters and keep challenging yourself. The OTT platform is the new big thing. It has empowered the audience as you can watch the film either at the theater or in the comfort of your home. It has a huge reach. Bard of Blood went to 900 countries across the globe and close to 160 million subscribers. So, that is really big. I will continue to work on OTT platforms. I am going to be in Bard of Blood Season 2. But on the other hand, I don’t want overkill to happen. I would not be signing too many projects.