When not locking lips, Emraan Hashmi is busy scaring the wits out of the audience with his horror entertainers. Come Halloween and Emraan will give you the chills with his next release ‘Dybbuk’. The film is said to be a remake of Malayalam film ‘Ezra’. Ahead of the film’s release, ETimes spoke to Emraan Hashmi about his love for the genre, OTT releases, and ‘Tiger 3’. Excerpts:
With ‘Dybbuk’ you are back to the thriller-horror genre after a gap of five years… How much are you enjoying revisiting it?
My love story with the horror genre never ends. I had just taken a pause for a bit, waiting for a good script from a good filmmaker and this was it. I am very happy to be back with the genre that I love the most. Horror, for me, is right up there as a genre choice. I have loved to watch horror films ever since I was a kid and it is always good to push the boundaries and bring something new to the audience. We’ve not been very fair with this genre in our country; we have not made too many special films. There are a few but not as many as there should be.
Have you ever been spooked in real life?
Yeah, I have been a couple of times actually. I’m a big horror buff and I’ve watched too many horror films for my own good and some of them have worked on my psyche and just stayed in my subconscious for years. So, I have been spooked.
Coming to ‘Dybbuk’, what was the toughest part about shooting for this specific horror entertainer?
I don’t want to give too much away, but for me, the climax was very special. Just the way the staging is done–everything coming together, the making, the performances. The conclusion is like a crescendo and what better way to hit such a high point, which we did with this film. Everything coming together was really worth it, the whole journey was, but for me to pick up one take, it would be the climax.
You have done over half a dozen horror movies, how do you manage to not repeat yourself?
This time the aesthetics are different, it is a lot scarier than the other movies I have done. Those films were back in the day; we have seen so much more now. We were aware that we had to do something new as far as horror is concerned for the 2021 audience, the OTT audience because they have seen so much stuff out there. Since two years the doors have opened up to the world of OTT and we have to go with the times. Thankfully, a few portions of this film were shot after the lockdown, so, we were very well aware of the changed world we were getting into. We have upped the horror quotient even more post the lockdown, so, in that sense, it is probably the scariest one I have done.
Over two decades in Bollywood and after experimenting with a plethora of genres, what is your formula for picking a movie?
For any movie, it’s the story and the character, that’s the first thing. The director, producer, and how they take the vision ahead are also important. It could be a great story but if the director doesn’t have the tool or the passion to make it then it is not going to work. It will not be put out there the way it was intended to. These four ingredients are very important. It also has to be something new, something that the audience has not seen before.
Does your son Ayaan watch your movies?
No, I have not allowed him to watch my horror films. Actually, more than not allowing him to watch, I think I picked up on his first reaction to one of my films that taps into fear as a device; he is a little sensitive to that. So, I made sure that I kept him away from horror; I didn’t want him to get nightmares. I was a little more desensitised to horror.
You’ve done romantic films, thrillers, action movies, and horror too. At this stage do you feel you are getting stereotypical offers?
For me, this is the most versatile I’ve been in my life! Thankfully the kind of scripts that are coming to me and the kind of performances that I am putting out there are unlike anything that I have done before. And I think I went on this path of versatility after 2009, thanks to people who gave me the opportunity. From a film like ‘Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai’ to a social-political film like ‘Shanghai’, an international one like ‘Tigers’, to ‘Ghanchakkar’ which was a dark comedy, and in recent times ‘Chehre’, a courtroom drama. So I’ve been blessed with opportunities to play such diverse characters and going ahead there is more diversity to come.
‘Mumbai Saga’ and ‘Chehre’ released on OTT. How do you gauge audience reactions? Does it bother you that there is no box office number now?
Streaming platforms may not give you exact numbers but they do tell you how your film is faring. You get feedback from social media, general buzz but yeah, there is no figure like theatrical has. Box office puts a figure but OTT is a very different ball game. That does not disappoint me, it is just a different experience. I think what is great about a theatrical release is the rush, the excitement of the opening number day. OTT is a slow burn because you know it is always going to be there, people can always view it in the catalogue of films. It is less stress, less anxiety and it has more word-of-mouth, not that theatrical is not word-of-mouth. But on OTT you get a sense when more people go into that streaming service for that particular movie and you get those responses on social media.
To conclude, if you could share something about ‘Tiger 3’?
There will be enough time to talk about forthcoming films. Very soon I’ll share about that.
So, at least tell us something on this entire fitness routine that you have adopted for ‘Tiger 3’?
I am thrashing it out in the gym but it has got nothing to with a particular film. During the lockdown, I got more fitness-oriented than I was before and I am very happy with this newfound passion for body-building and I am loving it. So, I am going to continue with that pretty much all my life.