Producer Mahesh Bhatt confirms that Randeep Hooda will replace the Bhatt camp’s blue-eyed-boy Emraan Hashmi in the third installment of the Murder franchise. “He is an evolving star, while Emraan has already reached a watershed mark and will only go higher from here. We always want to keep our franchise de-linked from the stars,” says Bhatt.
Besides being the leading man in Murder 3, Randeep, who made his debut with Monsoon Wedding in 2001, finally seems to be stepping out of the shadow of being Sushmita Sen’s former boyfriend. He has recently signed a Karan Johar film and his upcoming projects this year include Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 2, Cocktail and Jism 2, which he is currently shooting in Goa. Ask him how he feels about being the toast of town finally and he says, “I have gone through years of angst and self doubt where good roles didn’t happen and films got stuck. But the wait has been worth it.”
The actor reveals that he survived these periods of doubt with the help of his long-time mentor. “In a way Naseerbhai (Naseeruddin Shah) has been a great support. I have been part of his theatre group Motley for 11 years, which has been like my school. That helped me survive and believe,” he says.
About the brouhaha around him replacing Emraan, Randeep chooses to remain tightlipped. But Bhatt chips in: “Only time will say if Randeep can work the magic that Emraan did with Murder (2004) and Murder 2 (2011). We have taken this decision as we want to take the franchise to another level — make it more up-market and not just cater to Emraan’s mass base. With Randeep coming in, the film will open to the multiplex audience too.”