Emraan Hashmi talks about his ‘family film’ ‘Raja Natwarlal’, his Twitter fights with Mahesh Bhatt, his son Ayaan, facing criticism from non-filmy friends, and more in an exclusive interview at mid-day office
What do you mean when you say that Raja Natwarlal is a family film with kisses?
I called it that because we had group screenings for the film in five cities, we got some great feedback. These were groups of women in the 20-50 age group, which means that there was a fair number of college students and working women. After watching the film, they were like, ‘Oh, this is first Emraan Hashmi film that we wouldn’t mind watching with the family; we wouldn’t be ashamed to watch it.’ It’s a U/A certificate film and importantly, it will change the way you look at con films or thrillers. This film will get another audience because women can also watch it. It has an emotional context, a romantic angle. I call it a rom-con film.
Your Pakistani co-star, Humaima Mallick, recently said that kissing scenes from the film would be edited out in Pakistan…
Yes, those 4-5 scenes will be cut because Pakistan is conservative and it has its own set of rules. The first big release there was my film, Awaarapan, and it opened the doors to Pakistan for a lot of Hindi films. Jannat had released there as well, so Pakistan clearly loves Bollywood films. But yes, our films have to follow certain rules.
You are among the finest actors that we have. Do you think that your talent doesn’t get highlighted enough because of the kind of films you are doing and due to the kind of the questions (read: about kissing) that you are, more often than not, asked?
Well, calling me a good actor in the headline will not get you eyeballs but calling me a good kisser certainly seems to do so. Fortunately or unfortunately, in our country, kisses have that kind of value attached to them and it still amuses me. In fact, it has amused me right since the Murder days. Talk about kissing and everyone has a smile playing on his or her face. Go to a small town and ask about kissing, you will see how they turn red in their faces. I was the guy who kissed and didn’t really give two hoots about it. Then again, when you do a film like Murder, you cannot expect to it to be along the lines of a Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham.
You don’t attend too many Bollywood parties…are you not fond of them?
They are the most boring thing ever. I do what I like to do and that keeps my sanity alive. When I pack up from a film set, I hang out with my friends who are not from the industry. I don’t like to talk about films then.
Are your friends critical about your films?
Very! I don’t see films with them because they are very harsh with their criticism. Most of them are not from the industry and because they know me, they have their own judgement on how things should be. I am not naming this film of mine, but yes when they watched it, they said that it’s a terrible film and that it was the worst I had ever done.
What affects you more — bad reviews or the negative stories?
I don’t need bad reviews if I have friends like that. Like I said, they are very brutal and it’s the worst kind of criticism. But if you are an actor then you have to be open to it. As far as negative stories go, I don’t read the papers much these days and I don’t really see myself through other people’s eyes.
What about your Hollywood debut Tigers?
We are screening it in Toronto and I will be going for the premiere so we are looking forward to the reception it gets. It’s the story of a whistle blower; he’s a medical representative who hails from a poor family. He sold baby products for a living but didn’t realise early on that they contained contaminated water and that this, in turn, was causing a lot of baby deaths. So it’s the story about how he took on the big guys and later sought refuge in Toronto. He is also coming down for the premiere, so I will meet him there. It’s a controversial subject and the film features some shocking revelations, so I don’t know what’s going to happen when it is released. Then again, films are about freedom of speech, aren’t they?
Was your twitter scuffle with uncle Mahesh Bhatt a real fight or just a publicity stunt?
It was not a publicity stunt. Bhatt Sahab is a bit of a weird personality and I don’t blame people for thinking a certain way; I would have probably thought the same. This started three weeks ago; this fight happened because I upset the schedule of their film, Mr X, in order to make time for Raja Natwarlal’s promotions. Mr X is a 3D film and the foreign crew is scheduled to go back soon, so I need to finish shooting within a certain period of time or the film will go for a toss. I am shooting 19 hours a day and then promoting Raja Natwarlal. These days, promoting a film is more important than shooting for it.
On his part, Bhatt sahab was voicing his concern because I was trying to convince Vikram Bhatt to make some adjustments in the film’s schedule. The weird thing is that he didn’t contact me and chose to vent it out on twitter. As you can see, our family does wash dirty linen in public. I have still not spoken to him about this fight. I will do so when I meet him on the sets on the last day of Mr X’s shoot.
Did Akshay Kumar call you up when your son Ayaan was being treated in Canada?
Yes, he called me and even came home to meet Ayaan. He knew some people in Toronto and he offered help. A lot of other people called and offered help – from Sanju (Dutt) and John (Abraham) to Yuvraj Singh and Anupam Kher. Akshay continues to call and check on Ayaan every month and that is very sweet of him. Now Ayaan is fine and he is back to school.