Even though we fictionalised characters and didn’t offer our verdict on whether it was murder or suicide, Bob Woolmer’s death was the take-off point for Jannat. And the recent match-fixing scandal could be the trigger for Jannat 2,” says Emraan Hashmi.
Hashmi is referring to the News Of The World exposé that caught bookie Mazhar Majeed on camera accepting 150,000 pounds for rigging last week’s Lord’s Test match that ended with Pakistan succumbing tamely to England for the third time in the series. The British tabloid also revealed footage of three Pakistani players, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Amir and captain Salman Butt, accepting a jacket stuffed with currency notes and subsequently bowling three no-balls to order.
In Jannat, Hashmi strolls into the locker room and offers a player washing up Rs 50 lakh, and Rs 25 lakh each for his middle-order colleagues, for throwing a match. The actor admits that even though he was playing to the gallery, he’d met such ‘fixers’ while researching the role: “Like Arjun, they are looking for easy money and unapologetic about how they get it.”
The recent controversy has popped up some names. Do they ring any bells? “No,” Hashmi shrugs. “We were completely in the dark about the identities of these guys. Kunal (director Kunal Deshmukh) and I met them two months before shoot.”
However, there are names mentioned in Fallen Heroes, the book on the website, tehalka.com’s match-fixing investigation, that Hashmi read. He claims he was never an avid cricket buff, but had he been a fan, such revelations, would have demoralised him. “It would have made me question if what I was watching was for real or a fake WWE encounter,” he sighs. Match-fixing allegations have dogged the Pakistani team for some years now. But Hashmi refuses to single out any one country or player. “Even in Jannat, any resemblance was purely coincidental,” he retorts.
Jannat 2 during IPL 4?
Jannat came in the middle of IPL Season 1. It was seen as a suicidal move but the gamble paid off, big time. And even though they haven’t locked on dates, Hashmi’s hoping Jannat 2 will release during IPL 4. But will IPL 4 happen, given Lalit Modi’s ouster and the controversies that have grabbed headlines?
“It will, as it’s too profitable for anyone to give it up. And the T20 format is exciting. Even I watched a couple of matches during Season 1, something I’d never done before,” Hashmi argues.
Jannat roped in IPL studio analyst, Sameer Kochchar, to play cop and his on-field colleague, Vishal Malhotra, as Arjun’s buddy. Hashmi is hopeful of pulling in other big names for the sequel too, but doesn’t think they’ll get any cricketers to do cameos. “Who would want to be associated with matching-fixing even if it is pure fiction?” he says. “But Jannat 2 will definitely be bigger, better and meaner.”