There is a kiss in Shanghai but Emraan Hashmi is not involved in it.
However every story about Emraan Hashmi invariably uses the tag “serial kisser.” And post-Shanghai there are plenty of stories about Hashmi these days. He may have proved to the world that he can actually act with his scene-stealing role as Jogi Parmar, the paunchy small-town videographer but he has a lot of Bhatt-movie kisses to live down.
Other actors have had breakthrough films after struggling for years in bit parts and as sidekicks. Irrfan Khan, for example, is a big name now but it’s been a long slog from Salaam Bombay in 1988. But few have come the Hashmi way, out of B-grade films, where his main claim to fame were some hit songs and steamy kisses.
The refreshing thing about the unlikely stardom of Emraan Hashmi is he makes no bones about his lipstick-stained resume. He is not insufferably coy about his sex and jism credentials. “My films have a bold interpretation. They are unapologetic about showing intimacy,” he told India Today after the release of Jannat 2. “Going by the number of people who come to watch my films, this is what our target audience yearns for.” There, he said it. His audience wants it. And he puckers up. No sanctimonious nonsense about kissing for the cause of art and breaking taboos. He even admits his wife doesn’t like it but he’d be no good as a clean-cut rom com hero. In 2006 when he was asked if he was trying to change his “serial kisser” image, he retorted simply, “It’s something that has helped me reach where I am today. It would be very stupid of me to detach myself from that… Whatever the script or the director wants me to do and if it is the requirement of the character then I will do it. Otherwise I shouldn’t do the film.”
In fact, he takes his kissing seriously. A Tehelka profile describes his vanity van.
On the dressing table are two packets of chewing gum, hardy remarkable. But for Emraan Hashmi, chewing gum is a tool of trade, he has often spoken of the necessity of keeping his breath fresh for his intimate scenes.
Somebody, give that man a toothpaste or a mouthwash ad deal. He deserves it so much more than any of the actors who get millions for going on and on about their minty fresh breath.
When he isn’t being called a “serial kisser” Emraan Hashmi has also been called the “people’s star.” It’s a backhanded compliment. The singer Kumar Sanu once said anything is possible in a country where an Emraan Hashmi can become a superstar. Hashmi is 5’7”. Even when he buffs up he isn’t quite an unreal piece of sculpture like a Hrithik Roshan. His grandmother, Purnima Verma, a character actor in Hindi films told him consolingly, “You don’t have to be a hero. Not everyone must be a hero.”
But that’s what works for him in Shanghai. He’s quite believable as Jogi Parmar in the way most “stars” would not be. He is really a sort of everyman as befits someone who got his start as a child in ads for Good Knight and Rasna.
He knows, that till date, more than an actor he has been the happy confluence of steamy scenes and hit music, the star of skin flicks elevated to respectability by some soaring Rahat Fateh Ali Khan vocals. He is unabashed about his own formula:
Emraan Hashmi film has come to guarantee certain ingredients: An intense, grey central character, a beautiful girl, if he gets lucky then two (smiles), couple of kisses, a few bold scenes, fabulous music and a climatic twist.
He admits “I can’t dance to save my life.” He is open about the fact that he didn’t do well in school or in sports but still wanted the “good things in life, money, success.” He is frank about the fact that he got lucky in movies because Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt are his uncles. “It’s not exactly a revelation that Mahesh Bhatt has always backed me. If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be in films,”he told the Times of India. “It was an inroad but it couldn’t have guaranteed success.”
Now Emraan Hashmi is getting some respect. The Tier 2, Tier 3 city star is now invading Tier 1 and Bollywood is sitting up and taking notice. Even if a Kareena is wary about starring opposite him, a Deepika is game. Karan Johar wants him. He is Ektaa Kapoor’s blue-eyed boy. He is going to be in a Vishal Bhardwaj venture. All major channels are happy to interview him. “Shanghai de-constructed perception that people had about me. A new Emraan Hashmi has been showcased,” he told India Today.
And the future is wide open for an unconventional hero like Emraan Hashmi. “I plan to surprise the audience with every film I do. All my future films have me playing different characters,” he told DNA. “In Ek Thi Dayan I play a magician, Raaz 3 is a horror film and Ghanchakkar in which I play a locksmith will be my first full-fledged comedy film.
The Bhatts’ loss might be cinema’s gain.