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Of choices and Emraan Hashmi

Published Oct 30, 2012 12:51pm


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The films actors chose speak volumes about them. And in Bollywood this is perhaps the difference between trying and a successful career. At the beginning of his career Shah Rukh Khan held on to the marquee directors irrespective of the role. Consider Ramesh Sippy’s Zaamane Deewana (1995) or Mukul Anand’s Trimurti (1995). But at the same time he lapped up Darr (1993) and Baazigar (1993) without batting an eyelid. If at first he was the second choice for someone to play the role visualised with Aamir Khan or Salman Khan, he made it his own and in the process set the standard for playing the hero. In the same context, Hashmi has made himself the automatic and indispensable choice for a certain kind of character and honestly there’s no one who can play Emraan Hashmi better than Emraan Hashmi.

Leading up to his releases you’d find Hashmi talk about the film as if it were an important piece of art and how it contains all the elements necessitated by Bollywood and how in spite of being ‘same, same’ this new one would be different. But like Hashmi and his one-note acting, even his films generate just one kind of reaction and he rarely fails to deliver on that front. I can’t help but look forward to an Emraan Hashmi film. It’s not like I’m a fan of Hashmi’s talent, as a matter of fact I question it on most occasions, but I do find him interesting. More than Hashmi or even the film I enjoy the buzz that surrounds his films. A successful star in his own right, Hashmi is one of the few lucky ones whom everyone considers to be immensely talented and what makes him more intriguing is that no one seems to be get tired of his limited one-note acting talent but instead blame the limited opportunities that came Hashmi’s way.

There have been many actors in the past who have mastered being unvarying but none come close to the level that Hashmi has attained. For any actor to play the same character and play them good isn’t a compliment but for Hashmi everyone seems to make an exception. In most cases the only variation he brings to his characters is the level of loudness and yet, Hashmi’s fans, and he has more than a handful, seem to love him. Such is his magnetism that the audience comes alive the moment he swaggers on to the screen in Once Upon a Time in Mumbaii (2010). Beneath the infectious mannerism of a character based on the young Dawood Ibrahim, which is not only different but perhaps a shade better than that of Ajay Devgn’s Malik in Company (2002), is the same single-note actor who mouths his lines in the same manner as he does in every other film of his. No one seems to be bothered with the fact that Hashmi plays the same role and sometimes he’s so lackadaisical about it he even sounds the same like in The Dirty Picture (2011).

The bigger question here is whether Hashmi is incapable of doing something different or are the roles not coming his way? He has gone on record to say that he can’t play a ‘good guy’, which, to me, means that he isn’t open to experimenting. Of course, he can change his look to look more or less the same guy but that’s just about it. Hashmi’s first role in Vikaram Bhatt’s Footpath (2003) revealed to the world an actor who knew what it took to be fearless. He played Raghu, a typically nuanced Bambaiya character, and while there was little that Hashmi could bring to the table, he did stand out. But every subsequent performance of his is a page from the same book including Murder (2004), his second film and the one that established him as star in his own right. But Hashmi has shown that he can put in an effort when required. In Shanghai (2012), a film where he gets a chance to bite into something substantial for the first time, he played a character that is as different as the others he has portrayed as car models from different years.

I must confess that I thoroughly enjoyed Hashmi in Once Upon a Time in Mumbaii, a film where no character undergoes any transformation and everything remains the same. It’s impossible to beat Hashmi in such a scenario. For those who have seen Hashmi’s Footpath and Mahesh Bhatt’s Angaray (1998), a film that provided the former with the blueprint, can’t help but smile at the irony that the hugely ‘Emraan Hashmi’ model is pretty inspired by Irfan Kamal’s performance, who played a similar character in Angaaray. Sometimes the greatest music is created by that one-note struck pretty darn well.

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Born a cinephile and a close observer of society, the author is an award-winning documentary filmmaker/writer. He is a regular contributor to leading Indian publications and is currently working on his first book. Find out more about him here.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


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Gautam Chintamani loves to closely observe society when not being devoured by Bollywood, politics and everything in between. Commissioned by Harper Collins, Gautam is presently working on a biography of Rajesh Khanna due to come out later this year. He tweets @GChintamani.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (13) Closed

rafiq meghani Oct 30, 2012 01:14pm
I dont go to cinema house, but watch movies at home on tv. If I see Imran Hashmi, I move to other channels. Somehow he dont appeal at all as at actor or human
Asif Nov 01, 2012 09:46am
Does Indian movies worth watching or commenting? I consider it a terrible waste of time and money and I laugh at people who go and spend money to watch these
Concerned Netizen Oct 30, 2012 02:32pm
Emraan Hashmi who??? lol.. that guy is not even worth an article.
Abdul Wahab-Pakistan Oct 31, 2012 07:46am
Surprisingly the author didn't touch upon the actual reason behind Imran's fame. He is liked as a playboy and provocative performer. If Imran is there, sure there is a story having spicy bedroom scenes and some vehement kissing. Either he fell prey to that willingly or he was forced to. But above that he is less known for his acting. He is at his best with Mallika Shrawat in such scenes.
Mazher Oct 31, 2012 06:33am
Nicely written. How come no mention of Awaraapan? Which I find amongst one of his bests. May be you have missed alot of other movies where he has acted superb, Jannat, see another one...Agreed he is monotonous, but he knows what he does and what is required by the act he plays.
Rani Sharma Oct 31, 2012 04:47pm
To be a successful actor in Indian movies there is one main requirement. A white or at least a fair skin. Looks are not that important. Example is Karisma Kapoor who is hardly good looking but is fair skinned and had a famous grandfather, Raj Rapoor. Amitabh Bacchan when he first got film roles was not popular because he is dark skinned and has typical Indian looks. he struggled. I remember a nabor telling me that he liked his acting but did not want to see any more movies because he is black skinned. Imraan Hashmi will do just fine--give him time. Indian movie goers are already in love with his relatively white skin.
Zeeshan Khan Oct 30, 2012 02:09pm
Author mentioned Murder but forgot "Gangster" Love that movie.
pakistani Oct 30, 2012 06:17pm
bcoz murder was a breakthrough for him.
Raja Oct 31, 2012 01:38pm
Atleast his movies worked for certain people, but me and you not even worth for any class.
Indian Oct 31, 2012 01:17pm
Leave the guy alone. Not that bad, there are worse actors in Bollywood. He had done at least some good movies like Jannat 1, Shanghai and Awarapan
dattatray Oct 30, 2012 07:45pm
also "dil to bachcha hai "
Pradeep Oct 30, 2012 12:58pm
Author pulled out without mentioning MURDER.
dude what the hell? Oct 30, 2012 01:32pm
He was great in "Tum Mile" and offcourse he does have the ability to act more than a single-note limited actor. I think you are forgetting quite a few others who are literally shitty , not happy with your blog :s