Emraan Hashmi: It's time to reinvent myself

He's just back from Toronto, where his first international project, Danis Tanovic's 'Tigers', premiered. This was the first time he'd been to an international fest with a film and Emraan Hashmi admits that he was anxious about the audience's verdict. The film is the true story of Pakistani whistleblower Aamir Raza, who exposes an MNC whose baby formula caused multiple infant deaths there. The character and performance are far removed from the niche Emraan has created in B'wood. 

But the story resonated with him because when he read the script, his son, Ayan, was two and conversations at home often revolved around breast feeding and infant food. "I didn't know till then that through hospitals, MNCs were forcing formula food on parents as an alternative to mother's milk. And this, when mixed with contaminated water, was responsible for millions of deaths," he points out, hoping this dramatic thriller with a message, will bring some changes, at least a decade from now.

Emraan's son, Ayan, was undergoing treatment for a tumour. How is he now? "He's doing well," he says. Tigers was screened for Aamir Raza, who following death threats relocated to Toronto and is now a cab driver. And it became an emotional moment for both. "I'd spoken to Aamir once over the phone. I'd have met him too but Danis was in a hurry. He had met Aamir and guided me through my character's journey. So, I met Aamir for the first time at that screening and am glad the film moved him to tears,"says Emraan. On a lighter note, he admits that though Danish had seen Shanghai and The Dirty Picture, he's glad the Oscar winning director of No Man's Land, met him in person. "The indecency he saw on screen would never have fetched me this role," he laughs, admitting that despite the urbane characters he plays, he is a simple guy who wants to keep it real while most actors over-dramatise their lines and life.

However, after Raja Natwarlal failed to make expected box-office figures, he has realised that his ''hit" screen image may have reached its saturation point.

"Over the next two years, with films like 'Tigers', 'Mr X' and my first true love story 'Hamari Adhuri Kahani', I'll try to re-invent myself," he admits. 'Ungli' is also coming up in December. Emraan is yet to see the final cut but is glad the film is finally seeing the light of day after being plagued by multiple delays. "Even Tigers was to kickstart in 2006 but was stalled because producers and financiers were afraid that the contentious issue would leave them open to litigations,"he says.

The film blows the lid of an MNC and Emraan acknowledges it could still rub people the wrong way, even upset his fans in Pakistan. "But it is not maligning a particular country or company. It's just so happened that Aamir was from Pakistan," he reasons.

Buzz is, Emraan has been thinking about getting into production too. "Not till I finish these commitments," he interrupts. Will he invest in a film like Tigers? "Why not? But I will continue to make masala movies. Today, everyone's talking about Rs100, Rs 200crore films. I don't think the box-office is the only benchmark for success. But commercial popularity helps boost the other kind of cinema too," he argues.

His uncles, Mukesh and Mahesh Bhatt, were upset with him for giving precedence to an outside banner (Raja Natwarlal) over a home production (Mr X), pointing out that he owed his success to them. Emraan dismisses this jaded perception, saying he's given hits outside the home banner like Aksar, 'Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai' and 'The Dirty Picture'. "Yes, the first five years, forget being counted as a star, I wasn't even included in the list of actors. After that I was put on a pedestal. I'd still rather be an actor than a star even in the 'star' roles I play," he maintains.

He's also dismissive of awards, saying it's "laughable" that India has 40 plus annual awards and most go to popular films and actors who dance at these shows. "It's a business deal. I take the National Awards seriously but not these popular awards determined by box-office figures," he retorts.