Life is nothing less than a roller coaster ride – at times you are on a high and at times you are simply trudging through all by yourself. This holds true in every profession, but in show business, your success and failure is out there for everyone to see. There was a time when Emraan Hashmi had everything going for him – he had the best songs, his films were raking in big money, and his fan base was huge. But then things began to change. The man who was known to deliver successes was struggling to find his centre. This was the time when he was attempting different kinds of roles, something that he wasn’t known for, in films like Shanghai, Baadshaho, and Azhar. People close to him referred to it as his attempt to phase out his earlier image (serial kisser) that he had been carrying for many years. He was trying to do different kinds of films which reflected the person that he has become and not what he was in the past. He will now be seen in a completely new avatar for Netflix’s new original show, Bard of Blood, which is based on the novel by Bilal Siddiqi and produced by Shah Rukh Khan.

 

 

 

What made you go in for a web show? Also, are you a “Netflix and Chill” kind of person?

I love watching Netflix shows. And when this offer came my way, I was pretty excited because I was already well-versed with the book and the story. I think ‘Netflix and Chill’ has another connotation. That’s more like the films I used to do back in the day (laughs). But yes, I love watching shows on OTT platforms. It’s an exciting time for storytellers and actors alike.

What did you like about Bard of Blood?

I think the book is unique since Indian writers haven’t quite explored the espionage genre before the mainstream. I met Bilal through Hussain Zaidi around five years ago and had launched his book. Later, we worked together on my book as well. I think the book is an extremely riveting read and lends itself to a medium like Netflix. For me, doing this show was great fun and challenging, because I got to portray and bring myself into a character as layered as Kabir Anand.

You are playing a RAW agent. How was it to be on the side of the law for a change?

Well, it was always on my wish-list to play this tough-as-nails agent. That fulfilled itself with Bard of Blood. I’ve not been offered this kind of stuff before, so naturally it excited the actor in me. Also Netflix and Red Chillies are awesome to work with.

Did you learn something new or different about the country and the armed forces through the making of the show?

 The show is set in Balochistan but it’s a very character-driven story. The backdrop is loosely drawing from some geopolitical happenings, but it’s all fictional so that our characters take the forefront. So, in that sense, this is not a show to teach you about the armed forces or anything of that sort. It’s pure, high-octane entertainment.

How is Shah Rukh Khan as the producer?

Shah Rukh Khan is an awesome person, extremely gracious and incredibly sharp. It was a pleasure working for his production house on this project. He has excellent inputs and I look forward to doing more with him if the opportunity arises.

How are web series and OTT platforms changing the narrative of the movie business?

It’s an extremely interesting phase for the industry. Storytelling and quality of content has taken precedence over other factors with our audiences. That’s a good thing. Everyone’s giving it their best shot now and this is a turning point in the movie business, since films have to compete with these OTT shows since they’re easier to access and even better in terms of content.

The last few years have been patchy for you at the box office. How were you reacting to that phase?

My son has taught me to not let any kind of setback affect your natural personality. I’m an easygoing, positive guy and I take setbacks in my stride and work harder to overcome them. That’s how I’ve grown to be. A career in this industry is a roller coaster ride and you can’t let these phases affect you for too long.

What is next for you as a producer and what made you become one?

A few things are being worked upon. Too early to speak about them right now. Although there are interesting films, like the Hindi remake of the Spanish thriller The Body, there’s Chehre, there’s a horror film titled Ezra and then I dive into Sanjay Gupta’s Mumbai Saga.

You’ve travelled a lot for the show. How do these locations add to the show?

The locations — Ladakh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Mumbai — have all helped enhance the visual aesthetic of the show. There are some awesome action sequences in these locations. It lends a certain scale to the storytelling.

Rumour has it, you have been signed on for two seasons for Bard Of Blood. Will we be seeing you in more web shows?

As of now, it’s only Bard of Blood. Can’t speak much about a second season since Netflix and Red Chillies have greater clarity on that.

Do OTT platforms require a different mindset for actors or is it just a different medium and the acting remains the same?

Yes, they do require a different approach. You can underplay characters and bring more nuances into the performance. Hindi films usually require a different approach because of the audiences they are catering to. But I guess that will stand to change too, with good OTT platforms informing the way content will be viewed in cinemas as well.

Shobhita Dhulipala and Vineet Kumar Singh are playing important roles in the show. They are coming from huge successes in Made in Heaven and Mukkabaaz. How was the experience working with them?

They are great fun to work and hang with. Extremely skilled actors and I’m glad I could work in a show that had performers like them in it. Jaideep Ahlawat, Sohum Shah and Kirti Kulhari are also a few of the other members in the cast. All of them are good actors and working with them really brought out the best in me as an actor.