After Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, Ajay Devgn and Emraan Hashmi have teamed up for the second time in Baadshaho. The theatrical trailer of the film got a positive response from the target audience and Hashmi believes that the film will appeal to people across the country. In a group interview, Emraan Hashmi spoke about Baadshaho, why he stopped doing mass films and more. Excerpts:
How was it doing the action scenes in Baadshaho?
I was a bit concerned and nervous about getting into this zone as I have never done an action film. I was not given the shallow pool to learn, I was directly thrown into the deep end of the ocean. We had a fantastic action guy and I was surrounded with people (Ajay Devgn and Vidyut Jamwal) who have done action, so that helped me a lot. I learnt a lot while shooting for the film.We used to rehearse the action sequences many times, so we were very clear about what to do.
You have done a not so commercial film like Shanghai and several commercial films like Baadshaho, Jannat. Which space do you enjoy more as an actor?
Each film has its own bonuses. I would definitely pick the one that goes out to the wider audience.There is a very clear divide in our country, that is the masses and classes. The mass audience wants escapist cinema. They want a film that helps them forget the stress in their life. Masses don’t want to see a film like Shanghai as it is about corruption and very close to the reality. Baadshaho is a mass film, which appeals to a wider set of audience. Classes on the other hand like the evolved cinema. They want certain logic and aesthetics in the film. Milan has managed to hit the sweet spot here as I think Baadshaho would suffice the need of both audiences. Without undermining Shanghai, I would pick a film like Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai and Baadshaho as they appeal to wider audience.
You have done several mass films in the past, but since the last few years, you stopped doing them. Why the change?
There is a perception in the industry that the mass audience is diminishing. There were directors who used to make such films, but slowly the business diminished in those pockets. A film like Baadshaho doesn’t only target the masses, and it would have been in trouble if it was just a mass centric film. The numbers of people watching a film in the mass centers might be a lot, but the figures are not. Probably 20 people in a mass section might mean 2 people in a multiplex. If you want to make a film, target it to both the sections of the audience. A very few film makers can do that and Rajkumar Hirani is one of them.
For you, the mass films have worked more often than not…
People have created a perception of me from the mass films that I used to do, but when they met me, they realised I was a completely different person. I did the films that I personally never used to consume. Because of my fan following, I had to shift to a certain kind of cinema. I just went ahead with the team and conviction of the director. I think right now is a great time because how cinema literate people have become. Most of the films that I did, I found a big disconnect from what I wanted to do. I did them just because there was an audience for such films. I have never seen mass films, I just act in them.
Do you think content has taken over the concept of stardom given the fact that a few superstar films in the past have failed to do well at the Box Office?
I don’t think it only depends on the content. Yes, content comes first, but there has to be a face value attached to it. Even the films that have not done well of late, if you put a new comer in it, the films would do 1/10th of the business they did with the stars. So, you can’t undermine the fact that a star like Shah Rukh Khan does not get the people in. Now it is legit that a megastar without content is not going to get people in the cinema halls in the long run. Nowadays, the audience has so many options to get entertained like Netflix, Amazon. With all these things coming up, they don’t want to see anything mediocre. Earlier, the audience didn’t have so many choices, but now they can go to YouTube and watch a short film. There are so many things to do, so I think they are less tolerant to the material which isn’t very evolved.
But a few years back, the films used to sustain for at least three days, but that’s not the case today…
The word of mouth spreads faster due to the social media. Earlier, it used to take time for the word of mouth to spread, but now due to social media, it is out at 12.30 pm. People who initially used to watch the night show of a film irrespective, now decide that based on the reviews on social media. So, content is to be blamed for everything.
How much do Box Office numbers matter to you?
We work for Box Office numbers and there is nothing more important for our longevity than Box Office numbers. If we invest a certain amount, it is done with the intent to recover. We work in an industry where there is 90% failure. So, this is an industry with 90% failure rate. In any creative process, you have to be ready for failure. As a creative person, I have to be detached to Box Office numbers, but it does matter a lot. I don’t want to loose the fun of film making, by thinking about numbers all the time, but on the flip side, I don’t want my films to lose money.
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