The winter chill, competition from the Oscar-nominated Slumdog Millionare and the ‘B-grade’ status of horror films hasn’t kept the crowds away. Raaz 2 has been acknowledged as the first hit of the year. And Emraan Hashmi, the movie’s lead actor, shares some secrets with Roshmila Bhattacharya.
Tell me a ghost whispered in your ear that Raaz —The Mystery Continues would work?
(Laughs) Sorry, shooting for 55 nights in way-out, supposedly haunted locations may have robbed me of my sleep, but I can’t claim to have had any out-of-the-body experience. I had confidence in the film though and the arrogance to say it would work as well as the original Raaz, even before its release. <b1>
But it has taken the industry a while to pass the verdict that Raaz 2 is the year’s first hit?
The industry wakes up last. (Shrugs) That’s okay as long as it wakes up one day. It was the same with Jannat last year. There were a lot of sceptics out there running down the film. We kept quiet till we could slap them with the figures. Up north, despite the chill, there are queues outside the ticket windows even for the 9 am shows. That’s the sign of a successful film.
It was a risk coming up against Slumdog Millionaire which arrived on a wave of Oscar-generated hype?
We were supposed to release two months earlier but the special effects took a while. We didn’t want to compromise on them and make a clichéd romantic supernatural thriller.
Once we were ready, we decided on January 23 as the release day and refused to be scared away by any competition, even Slumdog Millionaire. It may have got the media attention but we were the ones to bring in the revenue. In India, we’ve done double the business of Slumdog Millionaire in the first week itself.
But horror, as a genre, is still to get its due recognition in our country?
Yeah, it’s unfortunate that despite the high success ratio, such films are still associated with B-grade cinema. That was why it was so heartening when Raaz 2 took a good opening and remained steady through the week. That’s rare today.
It was a gamble doing a sequel without the original cast.
Raaz was a successful brand name but the sequel arrived only six years later. We didn’t want any connection with the original story or cast and risk keeping away those who hadn’t seen the original. Even those who had would have forgotten it by now. We were targetting a newer, larger audience with this film.
But Raaz 3 will have Emraan Hashmi?
Yeah, I’m the only actor who’s been signed for Part 3. Mohit (director Mohit Suri) and I go back a long way. And if he’s going to make another horror film, I have to be a part of it. Raaz 2 only skimmed the surface of horror .. with Raaz 3 we’ll up the fear level.
But that’s the only horror film I’ve accepted and since the script is still to be written, it’ll come only after three-four other films. Early on I repeated myself and paid the price. I won’t make the mistake again.
You’re obviously referring to your ‘serial kisser’ tag. It must rankle even though Randeep Hooda says it’s every man’s fantasy.
(Smiles) Really? According to one magazine poll I am the most hated man. I guess, guys are envious of my kisses. To answer your question, no, it doesn’t rankle. Most actors, in every generation, has been typed by a section of the media. And as Randeep says, I’ve benefitted from the image. But now I want to go beyond it. I want to experiment with other genres.
It’s taken me 10 films to get typed.. it will take me another 10 to break out of the stereotype. I’m being very selective.
You’re being super selective. Raftaar and Tum Mile are the only two films you have on hand.
I like it that way. We just wrapped up one schedule of Tum Mile in Cape Town. Raftaar was to have been completed by last December but it has been pushed ahead because a schedule had to be cancelled.
Buzz is you’re upset with Percept for wasting your dates and diverting funds to the Akshay Kumar starrer, 8 x 10.
Well, dates went waste but we were waiting for the right songs and didn’t want to compromise since they will be used to promote the film. Raftaar should be out by mid-year.
It has great content. It’s about the media.. news channels and their preoccupation with TRPs. Both Tum Mile and Raftaar have lived up to the expectations raised by the script.
Isn’t the title Tum Mile rooted in MM Kreem’s Criminal charttopper, Tum mile dil khile?
It’s not and Tum Mile is just a tentative working title. It could change.. it could stay. It fits the story, the characters and their relationship. It’s my first real love story. And the love story unfolds against the backdrop of the Mumbai floods.
So why was it shot in South Africa?
We wanted an international look. Also, the two characters meet there before coming down to Mumbai where the relationship progresses. The next schedule will be on a set with a city block, rain machines and SFX. It will be gruelling wading through water for 15 days.
Your hit films have been restricted to the Bhatt camp. Is that why you are wary of venturing out?
I’m open to outside offers but not run-of-the-mill movies. And till they come along, why should I move out of Vishesh Films? We’re a great team.. we make hit movies.
Navdeep Singh was keen on you for his next film but the creative director, Nikhil Advani, apparently told him it was beneath his dignity to approach the serial kisser.
How can it be below his dignity to approach me when I have given a hit and his film, Chandni Chowk To China, has flopped? It’s below my dignity to work with him. I think Nikhil Advani lost his dignity when he made his last two films.
And Akshaye Khanna who said if Emraan Hashmi was getting Rs 5 crore, he should get more?
No actor has the right to call out my price. I charge depending on my pull at the box office. I don’t overcharge nor do I under-price myself.
Think Raaz 2 will get you into the A-list?
That’s the God given right of Bollywood’s blue blood. I’ve always been the outsider and even Vishesh Films has never walked the straight and narrow path. The media attention may be on select actors but I have the mass following. And one day, they’ll have to let me in.