How different was it shooting for a web series (Bard Of Blood) as compared to shooting a film?
We shot for seven episodes. Each episode is 45-minute long. That is double the time you take to shoot a film. The rules are the same. But the work load is more. You dwell in your character for long and can bring more nuances into play.
What was the toughest part of playing a spy?
I guess it was understanding the psychological aspects of the character. What a spy goes through, the fear he experiences, his state of mind in an enemy state. Physical fitness is essential too. The body language had to be right. It was challenging to shoot in Ladakh at a height of 13,000 feet. You have to add dimensions to your portrayal from what’s written on paper. I tend to improvise on the set. We wanted to reach a global audience. So we kept it subtle and yet engaging at the same time.
From doing erotic thrillers and reality dramas to web series… how do you view the change in your career?
Today cinema is exploring new concepts and themes. As actors, we’re getting to play a variety of characters and experiment. You have to reinvent yourself with each film. This indeed is a good time for actors. The OTT platform exposes you to a world audience.
Looking back, do you have any regrets?
I’m proud of whatever I have done. I don’t have any regrets. What I’m today is because of certain films.
I gained from that kind of cinema. There are many films, which you feel were not made for you or were not made as they should have been. But that’s a learning process. How will you grow if you do not make mistakes? You have to do justice to whatever comes your way. You have to work hard and reinvent yourself.
Given the competition around, do you feel insecure as an actor?
I don’t feel insecure ever because the industry is a big place. It always welcomes talent. Today so many new avenues have opened up. All kinds of films are being made. The medium doesn’t matter. What matters is talent. If you have talent, you’ll get opportunities. There’s work for all. In fact, we should learn from the newcomers. They bring in fresh ideas.
What do newcomers today have that you did not possess when you began?
The current generation has got more exposure. What my son Ayaan grasps from watching films is much more than what I did as a youngster. He has access to the OTT platforms, YouTube, social media… I was born in the ’80s when there was only one channel – Doordarshan. We absorbed whatever we could from it. Satellite TV came in later. When youngsters are exposed to so much stimulation, they are bound to create wonders.
Is it frustrating to wait for a good script to come your way?
There’s no frustration as such. You just have to keep on working, putting in efforts to enhance a film. Slowly, you’ll start getting the films as per your liking. The more you learn; the more your acting will improve. I never faced frustration. My films could be hits or flops, the industry always gave me work. I didn’t have to sit at home. Also, I can make the films I want through my production house Emraan Hashmi Films.
What was the turning point in your career?
I guess every film is a turning point. The route is never linear. Every Friday there are ups and downs. There could be a U-turn, a ‘No Entry’ sign or a ‘one way’ indicator along the path. You can never predict your next Friday. Personally, the birth of my son was a turning point for me.
How much have you changed as a person over the years?
As a person, I’m the same as I was 10 years back. But you develop a world view. You evolve as a human being. My perception has changed towards people, towards films… It’s difficult to put it in words. You change along the course of your profession. You change after marriage, after parenthood. When you experience the death of a close one, you change. Experiences surely change you.
Has the way you look at life also changed after Ayaan’s fight with cancer?
Yes. Earlier I thought too much about the future. But all that has changed now. Today, I’m satisfied with what I have. I live in today. I experience every moment and try to live it fully. My attitude is to take one day at a time, to behave responsibly and with discipline. Parenthood has taught me responsibility. As teenagers we lack balance. At 20, I used to run away from responsibility. You turn accountable when you marry and more so when you become a parent.
Which of your films does Ayaan enjoy?
He has not seen any of my films. I don’t wish to show them to him. (Laughs) All my films are censored as he’s just nine. When he turns 13, I’ll show him Bard Of Blood. Ayaan wants to become an actor. The atmosphere around him is such. But for now, he has to study, enjoy life and experience it. When he turns 20, he will understand things better. Most probably cinema will be different then. He may even change his mind. But yes, he has to keep a back-up plan ready. Life is unpredictable here. I did not have a back-up plan. That’s a terrifying thought. Thankfully, things turned out good for me.