The Cheat Sheet | Emraan Hashmi - Exclusive Interview

That he has a carved a niche for himself as a star, with films that deliver chartbuster music hits, and his earnest performances garner appreciation from all corners, is a known fact. However, after entertaining the audience as an actor, Emraan Hashmi is now geared up to step into an all new role - that of a producer. With his banner - Emraan Hashmi Films, ready with the release of their first production venture 'Why Cheat India', and a string of interesting films lined up; Hashmi is surely a happy man. On a breezy Wednesday afternoon, we caught up with the busy man, in between promotions of his latest film. Right before a shoot, we were invited for a rather candid and leisurely chat at his tastefully done up (and may I add, beautiful) abode in suburban Mumbai. He is all gung-ho about the release, and seems visibly excited about the digital space, with a plethora of ideas waiting to take off. For those who came in late, Hashmi is all set to join the web series bandwagon with Red Chillies Entertainment's much awaited show 'Bard of Blood', where he will be seen playing the lead protagonist - Kabir Singh. After a long time, fans of the actor will get to see more of him, both on the big screen and other platforms. Naturally, he is enthusiastic about this phase, and so are we. As we settled down after a quick exchange of greetings, armed with questions ranging from his films to digital media and more, the actor looked all set to shoot his responses. So, here we go!

Why Cheat India - your first production venture,  Bard of Blood - first series for Netflix, and finally saw the release of a long awaited film - Tigers. It’s been quite a year!

It was all pretty unplanned (smiles). Tigers was something that has been waiting in the cans for the past couple of years. It was with the director for the past fourteen years, as he researched the film way before it got out there on the field for shooting. But, for us, we were just trying to get this message out. We are happy that it is finally up there for people to see and understand what is happening in the developing part of the world. I am extremely happy with the response. Also, Why Cheat India has shaped up really well, and I am happy with the acclaim that the trailer has received. When Soumik (Sen - director) came to me a year back, I was really excited about this idea, because it really is one of a kind. We haven’t seen a film that focuses on the education system through this perspective. Not to generalise Hindi films, but usually, there is this whole Masala film zone that does well at the box office. But, there is a certain frivolity in that. You don’t really address issues. It’s really difficult to address an issue, and at the same time, make the film entertaining, which I liked when I first read the script and liked the idea back then. And, I am happy that both the teaser and trailer received a fantastic response. Just like Tigers focused on an issue, this too focuses on a pertinent issue that is plaguing our education system. Of course, this doesn’t resolve things overnight, but it definitely starts a conversation. It’s a film that is not just important for the kids, but also for parents, as they don’t know what’s going on. The nexus that works behind the closed doors, and how the education system has been fractured. 

Talking about Why Cheat India, what was it about the script that caught your attention and left you impressed?
Conversations about the education system. My journey in school and college has not been very different from other people’s journey. Everyone hates it, as there is a laborious process of getting through those various exams. Whenever you talk to anyone who has been through this process, even during the 70s and 80s, or during the 50s when my father was growing up; everyone has the same story. It’s just regressive and is stuck in time. We are seeing the 21st century from a 20th century lens, as it feels like the education system is stuck 100 years back. And, you do see a lot of corruption around in the country, with education being an extremely corrupt system as well. So, one was definitely the internals of the system which is completely fractured. The other one that there are traditional end of things, where people are making money, and it’s a strong nexus. From fake degrees to appointing faculties; a lot of gets done. All of these factors need to be addressed. It couldn’t have been addressed in a film, if it wouldn’t have been entertaining. So, he has added some great characterisation. 

We haven’t seen a film that focuses on the education system through this perspective

Tell us a little bit about your character in the film.
It was a departure for me, from the characters I have played in the past. People have loved the characters I have played on screen, and most of them haven’t been devious. This has shades of that, but he is a very ‘wolf in sheep’ clothing kinda guy. Someone who will pray in the morning, and then makes life miserable for people. He has got no ethics, and is an unapologetically bad guy. Still, he is the loveable bad guy. And, that’s how the anti-hero is changing in the past couple of years. You make the audience hate him, but also add things that he stands for, which you love him for. So, he is a blend of both! And of course, it does have 4-5 songs in it (smiles).

Why Cheat India marks the first venture under the banner - Emraan Hashmi Films. In the future, what genre of films would you be interested to back or support, as a producer?
There are certain genres that work for the audience, but don’t go with my sensibilities. One of them is comedy. Not putting down comedies made in our country, but I don’t connect with that. But, if I had to do a comedy, I wouldn’t mind it, but as a producer I would love to do a comedy that I’d want to see. Something which doesn’t alienate the audience, but at the same time, doesn’t dole the same content that has been churned out over and over again for the past 30-40 years. I like real films like Why Cheat India, which can also entertain at the same time. So, I would want to do more of these kind of films. I would also like to explore the action genre in a manner, which would be a drastic change from the kind of regular action you get to see. They have seen bits of it in films like Awaarapan, Baadshaaho and will get to see a lot of it in Bard of Blood. But, again the action hero in our country is something I don’t get. I don’t understand a guy fighting 15 people. If I get into this genre, I would like to break the mould. Let’s see, once the film releases, I will sit down and choose which genres I would want to explore.

As a producer, I wouldn't want to alienate the audience, but at the same time, I won't dole the same content that has been churned out over and over again for the past 30-40 years

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Priya Adivarekar

Priya Adivarekar - Founder and Creative Director at Diary of a Dancebee. She is also a renowned Voice Actress and award winning artiste, with serious passion for dance. When not working round the clock, she can be seen reading, enjoying a movie-binge or listening to music.
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