If there is one new face in Bollywood, who has created an identity of his own in no time, it has to be actor Emraan Hashmi.
Popularly known as the “serial kisser” of Indian cinema, Hashmi’s claim to fame has been his sensual kissing scenes in films that have not only attracted attention but also helped him differentiate himself from actors who are unwilling to take bold roles. However, his on-screen charisma has been felt across the border in Pakistan and the facts and figures support this notion.
Talking about his popularity, well-known film critic Nawab Hazoorul Hasan, who manages Nishat cinema for Mandviwalla Entertainment, said, “Believe it or not, Emraan Hashmi is the most sought after hero in Pakistan, no one has a bigger audience than him.”
“The funny thing about Emraan is that Pakistani audiences are the first ones to criticise him for his so-called ‘obscene’ scenes, but for some odd reason, his critics prove to be his followers when box office figures are revealed,” stated Hasan. He added that all of Hashmi’s films that were released in Pakistan have been super hits. This hasn’t even been the case for a superstar like Shahrukh Khan whose Ra.One only received a mixed response upon its release.
“It all started with Awarapan, the first Indian film that was properly screened all over Pakistan and since then each one of Hashmi’s films have been super hits,” recalled Hasan. History has repeated itself once again with Jannat 2, which was supposed to be taken off the screens in a week but was held for longer because of a brilliant first-week business of Rs25 million.
Regarding Hashmi’s main target audience, Hasan said, “It comprises of females especially young girls. Apart from that, hordes of his fans are boys who come in large numbers to watch his films.”
However, what makes him a gold mine for Pakistani cinema is the fact that his audience is spread all over the country and the distributors don’t really have to target a certain circuit of cinemas to get people to watch.
“His films work in all regions and areas, be it the Punjab circuit or Sindh or Balochistan, as they give guaranteed business everywhere. Even in Karachi, his films do well in all cinemas be it Atrium, Nishat or any other cinema in the city,” said Hasan.
Even in the case of The Dirty Picture, which became a global blockbuster in no time, Pakistani cinemas received the feedback that audiences were enamoured by Hashmi’s work in it. For now, his performances in films like Once Upon A Time in Mumbai and Shanghai are cementing his success as a serious actor who can play a variety of roles.
That said, we still can’t understand Pakistani audience’s love-hate relationship with the actor.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2012.