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Interview! Emraan Hashmi: In Bollywood, we play it too safe. I think we should change that

Bollywood ’s OG serial kisser boy has evolved. It has taken him time to break out of the box, but he did. In recent years, he’s been seen experimenting with a range of roles, including two-film hero projects like Selfiee and Tiger 3 . The latter where he played the anti-hero brought him back into the spotlight. Emraan talks to us about why he doesn’t want to be slotted as a villain , his foray into south films and more.

‘Earlier, my idea of a villain was that he will only be painted as this dark character’

Talking about the switch in his career, Emraan says, “People wouldn’t have thought of me featuring me in a Salman Khan or Akshay Kumar starrer. They are two different worlds and when they collide, there’s something that sparks off. I think Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai would be one of my first films in that space. It took a lot of convincing on Milan’s (Luthria, director) part to get me to do that part. I was reluctant because I was playing just the main leads until then. Earlier, my idea of a villain was that he will only be painted as this dark character. But in that film, I played the anti-hero. The same goes with my role in Tiger 3. He is the hero of his own narrative. I wouldn’t like to play a one-toned villain in a film. I am grateful to filmmakers to have realised that and experimented with that. I just go with the flow, and I don’t yearn to do films in a certain genre.”

‘I don’t want to get slotted as a villain’

He enjoys playing the antagonist in films, but he doesn’t want to do that repeatedly. He elaborates, “I have done few antagonist roles. I don’t want to get slotted in villainous roles. Yes, it is an interesting time to experiment. People are liking the larger-than-life experience in films where two titans are taking on each other.”

‘There was a deliberate effort to try something different’

When he had started out, Emraan was known for a certain kind of cinema – intimate and bold. He was trapped in the image for years before he finally broke away from it. Ask him what’s his hook as an actor today and he says, “I think that finding a groove is dangerous because that could put you in a box again. I hated the fact that I was boxed into certain kind of roles for almost 15 years. There was a deliberate effort to get out of that box and try something different because I wasn’t growing as an actor. I was sleepwalking on every set. That is when I took up films like Shanghai and Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai. It’s actually a huge trap. A lot of actors from the West also probably bail out from doing characters like Bond, because you gradually get boxed in sometimes. They say it is detrimental to your career because people can’t see you as anything else when you come out of that.”

‘I never imagined myself getting into the south film industry’

Between all the leaps he has been taking as an actor, the biggest plunge is venturing into a pan-India south project. Talking about the film, where he features with Telugu star Pawan Kalyan, he says, “I never imagined myself getting into the south film industry. But it was a fantastic script and a great character. Sujeeth is a great director and is making this film on an enormous canvas.”

‘We have a lot to learn from the way south films are made’

Ask him how different it is working in the south film industry, and he says, “I think south filmmakers are way more disciplined than we are (in Hindi cinema). Every penny that they spend on their film shows on screen. I think we often spend money in the wrong areas in Hindi films, and it doesn’t eventually translate on screen. They have finesse in their films when it comes to VFX, the scale and choice of path-breaking stories. We have some ground to cover before we can match that and we have a lot to learn from the way they make films.”