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Emraan: You can't make a dirty film without me

Last updated on: December 2, 2011 16:58 IST

Emraan: You can't make a dirty film without me

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Ankur Pathak in Mumbai

It's difficult to play modest and hide beneath a layer of humility when two of your films this year have netted around Rs 75 crore at the box office, and your next film has been already declared scorching hot by trade pundits.

Emraan Hashmi, who has had a surprisingly successful year with hits like Madhur Bhandarkar's Dil Toh Baccha Hai Jee and Mohit Suri's Murder 2, has just wrapped up shooting a sequence for Jannat-2 at a city hospital.

His new film, The Dirty Picture, in which he plays a hot-headed director, premieres on December 2. Vidya Balan plays the lead character, Silk Smitha.

In this interview with Ankur Pathak, he reveals what's worked for him.

Tell us the dirtiest thing about The Dirty Picture.

This is the dirtiest film I have done. You can't make a dirty film without Emraan Hashmi (laughs).

The tone of the film is bold and provocative but it doesn't cross the line into vulgarity, although vulgarity is a subjective term. I think most people are taking the film in good light.

Naseerudin Shah is the boldest in the film. It's like he has taken over my mantle and he is doing all those things which I normally do in my films.

Please continue...

What I found refreshing was the nature of the relationship between me and Vidya's character.

Generally, I am romancing my heroines but this is the first time there is a relationship of strong hate between the two characters. At the same time, there are strong undercurrents of love and in almost all our scenes together, there is always this sexual tension between us which eventually culminates in love.


Image: A scene from The Dirty Picture

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'I am stubborn and obstinate'

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Why the conflict?

It is because our ideologies differ so much that there is always a lot of friction between us. But at the same time, there is this huge similarity of both being very headstrong characters who share quite a number of traits.

Are you headstrong as an individual?

I am, very. I am stubborn and pretty obstinate. Having said that, I am not implying I would step on somebody's toes to fulfil what I want to achieve like some people may. So, stubborn in the sense I have managed to get things in my life I always wanted, both professionally and personally.

Are you hinting that people around you didn't think you could be an actor?

Absolutely. They told me 'why do you want to be an actor, you sure don't look like one'. I protested, because I believed it's nothing that other people have that I don't have.

I have a great belief in myself. It's been a very organic growth and it's taken a while, but the way things have shaped up, I'm very content.


Image: A scene from The Dirty Picture

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'I prefer playing protagonist rather than sharing the screen with other actors'

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Amidst Vidya's Silk Smitha and Naseerudin Shah's southern superstar, how does your character stand out?

My character Abraham challenges the conventions. Everybody is thoroughly colourful in the film, but I wear only black throughout. That says a lot about my personality.

I'm not saying he is a very dark person, but he walks his own path. Unlike Naseerudin's character, who is an outspoken, reigning southern superstar, Abraham is more artistic as a filmmaker and doesn't understand buffoonery and entertainment in that context. His intellectual space makes him different.

Was it easy to share your director's point of view since you had already (and quite successfully) worked with Milan Luthria (Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai) before?

Milan has a knack of making things different when you expect him to go the conventional way.

When he was making Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, everybody felt it will borrow from a Satya, a Vaastav and a Company. But Milan surprised them all, as he put in a lot of colour and vibrancy and also infused it with humour. That is what I like the most about him.

Didn't you fear your part would be overshadowed by Vidya Balan's since the film is seemingly centred on her?

I'm a selfish actor and I prefer playing protagonist rather than sharing the screen with other actors.

I enjoy films like Raaz, Jannat, Murder 2, where I'm the solo lead. I was in conflict before signing this film because I wasn't sure if I'd get enough screen time, as Vidya had the maximum footage.

But then I felt that come December 2, when the film opens, and the audiences assumingly flock to the theatres to watch it, I'd regret not being part of a great film.


Image: Emraan Hashmi and Vidya Balan

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'I have contaminated the film industry'

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Did your association with Ekta Kapoor's Balaji Motion Pictures play a role in signing The Dirty Picture?

Look, I'm not saying I'm doing this film for charity. I'm very well aware that this film is going to benefit me greatly. It's going to strengthen my portfolio and will play a pivotal role in my career. So it's my own decision, no pressure from anywhere.

It's an important film. Maybe it will also help me in buying some more time in the industry and also answer people trying to write me off. 

Your initial films raised a lot of eyebrows because they were rather titillating. Now that we've become pretty liberal and have come to accept boldness in cinema, do you feel you've played an important role in the industry's transition?

Another way to look at it is to say that I have contaminated the film industry (laughs). See, if I hadn't done it, probably someone else might have. I feel cinema has to evolve. Some people might not like it but there definitely are takers.

Yes, I was the face of something that was bold and raised a lot of eyebrows. Some cultural dictators said this wasn't Bollywood and what is this guy actually up to? But then my films did have an audience, which meant I wasn't making alienating choices.


Image: Vidya Balan and Emraan Hashmi

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'Every filmmaker is inspired'

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The kinds of films you pick mostly have you playing aggressive, ambitious characters that are often quite dark. Why?

I have a thing for thrillers because I like playing dark, conflicted characters. But I don't restrict myself to it because for an actor to grow, he has to step out of his comfort zone and constantly challenge himself.

I like to do films where the hero is always active. Like in the film Crook, my character doesn't do anything in the end; he is a passive guy. The film also didn't do too well. Still, I'll do anything good that comes my way whether it's a Dil To Bachcha Hai Jee or Murder 2.

They are also, at times, blatant rip-offs of, say, Korean or Hong Kong films. 

I feel whoever gets caught is the thief.  Bhatt saab (Mahesh Bhatt) has always said that he has been inspired from a number of places. It's not like we copy stuff and claim it as a completely original product. Every filmmaker is inspired.

Image: A scene from The Dirty Picture

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'The Censor Board doesn't know where to draw the line'

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Do you have any complaints against the Censor Board?

Actually, I have many. They had given an Adult certification to my film Dil To Baccha Hai Ji just because it had me romancing a married woman! But then there was a film called Hostel which had a proper sex scene which was passed under the U/A category.

So, what I think is that the Censor Board doesn't know where to draw the line.

It should borrow some ideas from the American board which has ratings such as Parental Guidance Under 13, Under 15 etc. Because I'm sure the concept of extra-marital affairs isn't something of a shocker to a 15-year-old.

You think it's partial?

No, it's just confused.

Image: A scene from The Dirty Picture

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'Vidya has always taken the unconventional path'

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Vidya Balan says you are a man of few words.

That's because we didn't interact a lot before going about the film. We spoke very little. She had just called me once to congratulate after watching Once Upon a Time...

The other time we met was a short meeting at a function. And the third was on an unusually serious note when there was a dress rehearsal. I think I was at a loss for words when I saw what she was wearing!

What was she wearing?

It's the opening scene of the film, but I cannot even explain properly what she is wearing. You will find out soon, and I'm sure you will be lost for words too.

What do you have to say about working with Vidya Balan?

I think not many actresses are comfortable with losing their sense of vanity. And Vidya has done it. She has put on a lot of weight to portray the southern siren, which I believe many actresses think twice before doing.

She is one actress who has always walked the unconventional path and I admire her for that.

Do you take your wife's consent before signing a film?

No. Do you think with her consent, I'd get to do the films that I end up doing? I do keep her in the loop but not with the details. I didn't tell her that I'm working on The Dirty Picture.


Image: Movie poster of The Dirty Picture

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'My character is pretty much inspired from Mahesh Bhatt'

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What do you do when you aren't shooting?

I really get miserably little time on my own, and sadly there are not more than 365 days in a year.

It's a good phase in my life where I have got just too many good offers to say no. I became greedy and signed all of them. So, filming these projects eats up a lot of time, then marketing them consumes almost a month. The little time I get, I spend with my family--my wife and my son.

Does the word 'hate' feature prominently in your dictionary?

Of course it does. I do hate a lot of people, and I do have grudges against them. But the thing with me is that I forgive as easily.

It's often there in my films--they are dark and have strong undercurrents of hatred.

It's all the taboo emotions in real life that I love to portray on screen because as an individual I feel all these emotions and I try to bring them out through my films.

Is your character in the film modelled on the lines of your uncle--producer-director Mahesh Bhatt?

We have sourced scenes from all sorts of places but I have unconsciously taken a lot from him and it helped me get a better insight into my character.

It's probably because he was such a rebellious director during his time and he always did things his own way, unaffected by the naysayers. There were the traditional Bollywood films and there were his kind of films.

So, yes, Abraham is pretty much inspired.


Image: Movie poster of The Dirty Picture

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