Emraan, your performance in Tiger and now Why Cheat India is of a very authentic texture.
You are also a producer on Why Cheat India. What made you take this step?
I wanted to explore new characters and new stories. I had been planning to turn producer for two years now. I felt this(Why Cheat India) to be the right opportunity to plunge into production. It is relevant as it addresses not in our educational system. I feel as an actor and a producer I need to address issues that go beyond entertainment.
Emraan Hashmi in a still from 'Why Cheat 'India'
Life hasn’t been easy for these past few years…
Yes, my wife and I were struggling with our son’s illness. Now he’s finally fully cured. I think this is my greatest success.No amount of box-office hits or otherworldly joys can equal the happiness of seeing your child healthy again.
I don’t know how you continued to work?
It was really tough. During the first month after our son fell ill, my wife and I took him to Canada for treatment where we had the family. I was thinking of nothing else except his health. It was my wife who encouraged me to return to work while she stayed with our son.
But I can’t imagine how you could concentrate on your work at a time like that?
It was actually a relief to escape into another character’s life and problems as long as the camera was on. Once the camera was the reality of my ill child hit me all over again. Thankfully he is out of it now.
Emraan Hashmi with his son
Are you now looking at a change of image?
Most definitely. For the first twelve years of my career, I was cast in a certain mould. And that was fine. But now I need to reinvent myself…
The lip-chewing serial kisser?
Ya, I had enough of that. But the problem is when I continued doing it people said, he is doing the same thing again and again. When I tried something different, they missed the old image. So it’s a bit of a pull in contradictory directions. The best thing is to go with your gut instincts. Why Cheat India is a refreshing change for me as an actor. And I hope the audience sees it that way.
What other new challenges are you exploring?
I am doing a Netflix web series. Which is an entirely new experience for me. It is based on Bilal Siddiqi’s The Bard Of Blood and the series will stream in August. I am very excited since this is a new platform for me.
Does the digital platform seem like a looming threat to the large screen?
Not really.E very platform has its place. Nothing can replace the pleasure of viewing a film on the cinema. However, if the viewer wishes to binge watch on an OTG platform then that’s the format which we must take seriously. Right now it is a consumers’ market and so many actors are getting a chance to express themselves. Earlier it was just film and television. Now there are so many platforms for actors.
During the past year, the old guard crumbled and a new generation of actors took over. Where do you fit into the new scheme of things?
I am glad there is so much new talent coming in. It is important for our industry to get new talent. For someone like who’s been around for 18 years, it’s nice watching new generations of actors coming in.
It’s hard to believe you’ve been around for so long?
Yes(laughs) even I find it hard to believe. When someone pointed it out to me during an interview I was quite surprised. Time has just flown by. It seems like just yesterday when I was starting out. This is a good time for all of us to reinvent ourselves. I am switching gears and swimming with the tides. The world and the entertainment industry have changed. I don’t even think of the competition. It’s just me in competition with myself. I am solely concerned with my own work.
Do you still see yourself as an outsider?
I’ve always tried to raise the bar for myself. When I did something like Murder no one else was doing it. Now I am working in a film called The Body directed Jeethu Joseph. Again it’s something out of the box. My discomfort zone. At this point, if the time I ‘ll only do a script that enthuses me.
Finally, what are your views on the MeToo movement?
I applaud the movement. It gives women a voice to finally come out with the wrongs done to them. Naming the perpetrators is good. Anti-harassment rules in film contacts are also very good. But there must some kind of legal procedure. At the moment names are called out on Twitter and then the media picks it up. I think the due process of law needs to be followed. Unfortunately, such things are very difficult to prove in a court of law. But I hope the Movement gets more channelled to a legal system so perpetrators are held accountable.
You never promoted yourself the way stars do these days?
I don’t see the need to shout from rooftops about my achievement. I let my work speak for itself. There are so many actors who were successful without social media. But then, to each his own.