'I was always more than a serial-kisser. But this tag became amusing to people and that became a sort of label that they associated me with,' quips Emraan Hashmi when the conversation begins with his 2.0 version. He's unapologetic about his past film choices and believes he's learnt more from failures than successes.
Filmibeat caught up with the 'Why Cheat India' actor at his abode for some exclusive tête-à-tête about his growth as an actor, the trap of box office numbers, biopics and much more.
Excerpts from the conversation-
Q. You had earlier mentioned that after watching the trailer of 'Why Cheat India', a lot of people messaged you saying that it's a very refreshing Emraan Hashmi 2.0. Over the years, your choice of films have become more refined. Was there a turning point for you which brought about that change or it just happened organically?
A. I think it happened organically. You can't expect it to happen overnight. Your life experiences- both personal and professional all put together, have a great influence on the kind of actor you become and the way you steer the course of your profession.
I think it's also about a little frustration with the saturation point you have after repeating yourself in films.
In our film industry when something works, they really want to do it again and again. That becomes a safety net. In my case, some of the things were becoming repetitive and cliche for me, some of it were life-experiences, growing up and maturing in cinema.
High- concept films are now probably the next stage in my career where I can pitch something unique and different to the audience.
Things can't happened overnight because you need the audience to accept you in a different avatar which takes its own course of time.
Q. In retrospect when you look back at your films, do you regret taking certain decisions?
A. No, I don't. I think every decision and every film has led me to who I am and where I am as a person. And if I went back, I wouldn't want to have it any other way.
Things happened at the right time. I learnt from my failures and the films that were not pleasant experiences. Also, no experience has been that bad. It's just that sometimes the films don't shape up the way you think they will. But then, you learn more from your failures than your successes.
Q. In one of your recent interviews, you said that box office numbers limit to the confines of a box. Now that you have turned producer with 'Why Cheat India', how do you view the equation between films and box office numbers?
A. Box office numbers are important to a certain extent. At the end of the day, films are made for the profit; you won't do a film where you have to face losses.
But if you only look at box office numbers, then you have to look at past references of the films that have done well and that restricts you as a creative person. Because those box office numbers are based on a certain truth that they had at that time.
You will never take a step in the new direction because your mind will tell you that it's never been tried out before so probably it won't succeed. Instead, you will tend to try something which had already succeeded and had box office numbers to prove it.
In such case, you will only end up playing in that confines of the box. You will never think out-of-the-box. So, it's important to not just go down the analysis of box office numbers, but to make a film that you believe in, go by instinct and be hopeful that film will do well at the box-office.
Q. Biopics are back in vogue now and you had been a part of one in the past (Azhar). Most of the times, there are allegations that the representation of these films is to 'whitewash somebody's image'. Do you think in India, we still have a long way to go when it comes to making biopics?
A. Yes, completely. We have a long way to go in other genres as well. (smiles). We justify things in our films. We justify bad actions and wrong doings in such films.
What's refreshing about 'Why Cheat India' is that nothing justified or we aint giving anyone any advice. My character is doing something wrong, but that's completely out of greed and ambition.
There's no other reason. No one died in his family. He isn't poverty-strike because of which he had to do what he does. Each person has their own justification to what they do. There's a reason why people do things. There's no sob story behind it.
Speaking about biopics, firstly to make the character interesting, the makers make it more endearing. They don't show the dark qualities of the character. Everything is sunny. Everything is made likable to make it popular.
In trying to achieve that, you actually change the entire character of the person. What's just left is the caricature of who the actual person is. You don't actually get to see the person on whose life that film has been made.
Instead, it's just a series of Bollywood events that take place in that person's life which are written and curated to make it palatable and more interesting for the audience.
Usually, the biopics abroad in the west are more true to who the person is even if it's about his good or bad experiences or there's something questionable about that person.
Q. But then, do you think that's got to do something with the audience here?
A. A little bit of that and a little bit of the makers. I think everybody is at fault (laughs). It's not just the audience. They don't know what they want to see till the makers don't give it to them. But I think that's changing now. There are real films being made. Things are not justified or jingoistic.
Q. These days, films come with their own set of controversies. For example, if the film is based on a political figure, you have political parties raising objections or it's a period film, you have religious outfits accusing of offended sentiments. Do you think that restricts the freedom of expression in the creative space?
Of course, it does. You can't hope to make a controversial film in our country, without facing backlash from certain communities or the world of politics. It's not possible.
We have seen dimes and dozen stories in the past of things being changed or Censor Board chopping off stuff or titles being changed, all these things happen. It's not as liberal as we think it is and the industry becomes soft-targets. Instead, there are other things out that need to be curated.
We have to think twice before doing anything which is remotely sensitive. Even if you are ready to pick a fight with a lot of people, the loser in the end is the producer, director and the actor.
Everybody works hard in a film and you have people pulling it down. Even if one is bold to put it out there, the exhibitors and distributors are scared of mob-protests and vandalism in theatres.