Many of his films might have been box office hits, but Emraan Hashmi doesn’t feel he is a conventional Bollywood actor. You rarely spot him at parties or film screenings.
Staying out of the limelight — except when his film is coming up — according to the actor, is a conscious decision, because he feels he doesn’t fit into the industry. He says he treats acting like any other profession, and doesn’t consider it his entire life. He tells us why.
You’ve spent over 10 years in Bollywood. Yet, we don’t see a lot of you when you’re not promoting a film. Why is that?
As far as Bollywood goes, I’ve always been an outsider. I never wanted to be an actor. I didn’t watch Hindi films and I still don’t. I didn’t have that yearning to be part of Bollywood. Also, I’ve grown more detached now. I probably don’t fit into the psyche, the egos and the way the industry functions. I find film parties boring. I can’t go up to people, praise their films and make them feel good because I don’t watch them in the first place… people expect these things at parties.
Why do you call yourself an outsider?
When you’re an insider, you do the popular roles and you understand the workings of the industry; you’re part of the whole game, the awards shows, film parties… I don’t do most of these things. I don’t want to change that either. Acting became a profession for me, and now, it’s how I earn my livelihood. Having said that, I am extremely dedicated to my craft, and I have always given it everything.
You’ve done a few popular roles yourself…
But my films are not like other Bollywood movies; they’re almost parallel-mainstream. My next is a film that is socially relevant and is entertaining. I don’t know many actors who would do a film like that. You won’t see me in a movie where I’m romancing an actress in Switzerland.
Don’t you want to know what your competition is up to?
I haven’t wanted to know that for the past 10 years. Call me ignorant, but this is how I want to be. I think my ignorance helps me choose things that I love doing. I don’t know how successful I am at it, but my ignorance makes my performance and films more refreshing. And I’ve never tried to pretend. I don’t want to fit in. This is not my entire life; it’s just a way of making money. When my wife and I had a son, when he fell ill… that was life for me.
How do you select a film?
If someone’s narration moves me, I do it. I don’t go by trends; I go by stories. I have got this far because I’ve taken risks. I’ll never conform, even if it means the end of my career. I won’t be balked down by people telling me what to do. Whenever I’ve done that, things have not worked out. A safe film never works these days… at least for me it doesn’t. That’s why I just go by my instinct.
Your next film is a multi-starrer. You haven’t done too many these.
I prefer working as the protagonist because I’m a selfish actor. But I also enjoy working in an ensemble because I think everyone brings their strengths to the table, and if a film requires that, then you can’t be selfish.
How have you seen Bollywood change over the years?
I’ve seen the industry evolve. A lot of new stories have started to come in. The style of working has changed; actors are experimenting; there are mainstream and art-house actors now. It’s a great time.