'Ek Thi Daayan doesn't propagate witchcraft’

Emraan Hashmi is an antithesis of his over-the-top screen image. In real life, he has a wicked sense of humour, for only those who get it. When he debuted in 2003, critics were quick to write him off due to his non-hero looks and his choice of films. It has been a long journey and not a smooth one for him since his ‘Murder’ days. From a mass hero catering to mostly frontbenchers to bankable star super-hit potboilers, he has coursed the long mile. His performance as Jogi Parmar in 'Shanghai' made the critics sit up and take notice of him. With Vishal Bhardwaj's 'Ek Thi Daayan', Emraan's filmi graph has taken a new turn as he stars along with Huma Quereshi, Kalki and Konkona Sen Sharma. In a candid chat, the star tells us about his role and why he wants to get rid of his ‘kisser’ image.

Excerpts from the interview:

How did ‘Ek Thi Daayan’ happen?
I was drawn to the story and the subject, written by Mukul which was adapted by Vishal. It was fascinating because thematically something like this has never been done before. ‘Ek Thi Daayan‘ deals with daayans (witches) which has not been explored much in Indian cinema. It is a different interpretation of with a couple of jump-out-of-seat moments. Fear is psychological and we have experimented with that.

Horror films in Bollywood are ridden with clichés. How is this film different?
Daayan is experimenting with a new genre of horror and we have tried to do away with the clichés associated with horror films. Whether it will work or not is for the audience to decide.

'Ek Thi Daayan' has been called regressive by a certain section of media. Shouldn’t cinema bear social responsibility?
I don’t think that is the right way to look at it. Our audience is intelligent enough to realize that this is a work of fiction and we are not propagating witchcraft. Though horror films do feed on superstition, there is no hidden message in the film. We have got clearance from the censor board too.

When you consider a role, what excites you as an actor?
My role in the script and the whole film in general. On the first day I am very unsure of myself and on how the film will pan out because no matter how much effort or hard work you put in a film, you can never be sure of its outcome.

From 'Murder' to 'Ek Thi Daayan', how has your journey been?
Right now, I am in a space where I feel content. When I did 'Murder', Bollywood had never explored erotic thrillers and it definitely marked the onset of bold cinema. But over time, it started getting repetitive. I would go back home and think on how I can get out of my comfort zone and do something different. And then came 'Shanghai' where my character was quite complex. I've never played a character from a small town and so this role was very different for me, both in terms of getting into his psyche and changing my body. I always aspired for a role which will be a departure from being the mainstream hero. Very few of our actors want to step out of their comfort zone. I want to do something like what Christian Bale does in his films. He does a 'Batman' and 'American Psycho', and still manages to look like a Crystal Meth addict in 'The Fighter'.

Does the serial kisser tag bother you anymore?
No, it doesn’t but I am fed up being called a serial kisser. I hope you guys finds something more innovative now or don't call me anything at all. I will be happy with that.