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“I know how to shut the windows to the storm outside” – Emraan Hashmi gets candid with Bharathi Pradhan

The trailer was out but the film was put on hold. Who took the decision to put off Chehre? And what happened with Amitabh Bachchan on the sets? Here’s a tell-all conversation with Emraan Hashmi.

The trailer of Chehre looked interesting. But they’ve put off the release because of Covid. How do you feel about it?

It’s the need of the hour because the cases are rising exponentially and there is no clear indication of when things will get sorted out. That’s why there’s no notice on when the film will release. It’s not just our film, it’s a bunch of other films also. Whenever things open up, when things ease off, when the caseload comes down, when night curfew ends and when the theatrical business comes back to a certain optimal level, that’s when we’ll put out a release date.

You’re with the producers that it has to be a theatrical release?

Sure. It was a joint decision. Everybody discussed it before the discussion was taken and all of us were in sync with the fact that it’s in the best interests of the film. Why jeopardise the theatrical potential of the film because of the Covid situation? 

But do you insist on a theatre release?

Again, it was a joint decision. It was originally made for theatre viewing and later on release on OTT. We wanted to abide by that, that was the original roadmap for the film.

When I saw the trailer, the first thing I told Rumi (Jaffrey, the director) was that Emi doesn’t look intimidated at all. 

Laughs. That’s called good acting because I was intimidated. But actually I was only intimidated for the first couple of minutes of the first day. But Mr Bachchan is so giving as an actor that you kind of forget all of that, he puts you at ease. 

I would imagine it happens to a lot of actors. The first day is always a lot of nerves because you’ve got to get into the thick of things, it’s going to take some time. You’ve got to get into character, you’re working with a new team and to top it, you’re working with an actor whose work you’ve followed and admired through your entire life. Honing my craft, aspiring to be a certain way (came from) seeing him as an actor since I was a kid. So obviously that was all there in the data bank. For me it was like, let me just get past those first few lines and then it’ll be fine. The whole film is very dialogue heavy, so that was a challenge, I couldn’t falter at all. So I asked Rumiji to give me some prep time which he did. And Mr Bachchan also generally makes everybody very comfortable.

Have you felt that little intimidation with any other actor?

I thought I’d feel it a lot more with Amitji but I probably didn’t because a) I was very surprised that he came in for a reading. My preconceived notion was, a person of his age and with his experience, is probably (doing a reading) for us to get into things and he will make his way on the set. Because he’s a mega star. But no, he came for a reading. So I was like, wow, this kind of commitment is incredible. So the breaking-the-ice thing already began there. 

But I’m generally not a very high stress individual. Not that I don’t get stressed. But I’m someone who manages it well. I don’t fly off, I don’t get crazy nerves or get anxious. I would probably count it on hand in my entire life where I’ve had a situation. Generally I’m extremely calm. 

You hide it pretty well. Because you come across as more cheeky than intimidated by anybody.

As an actor also, I generally like an easy working environment. I can’t, and I don’t think many actors can work in a stressful environment. It’s also the energies you give out. And that’s what you get back. Sometimes, if the director, the captain of the ship of a film, I’m not taking names, is a high stress individual, even in that environment I like to keep myself cool and calm because I can’t have anything affect my work, my job. For me that’s paramount, it’s a priority. So even if there’s a storm outside, I know how the windows to it. It’s a skill set I’ve slowly acquired. 

Are you referring to the time your son was unwell?

That too. That too taught me a lot. Obviously as a father, you have to be there and there is this side also (your work), you have to manage both. That (Ayaan’s illness) was probably the most stressful point in my life. 

How’s he (Ayaan) doing? 

He’s fine, fine.

Going to school and stuff?

Not going to, school’s coming to him with this Covid and e-learning. I’m hoping it’ll change soon and kids can get out and just be kids. Right now he’s driving everyone up the wall because generally kids want to get out. Now with another wave, he can’t even go meet his friends. They’re the worst off in this Covid situation. We can be mature about it but you can’t explain to a kid why he or she has to sit at home.

That’s Emraan Hashmi for you, different on screen and like any other doting dad at home. More with Emraan later.

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