• Friday, December 09, 2022


“I would love to do a horror-comedy film if someone offers me a good script,” says Dybbuk star Emraan Hashmi

Emraan Hashmi (Photo by SUJIT JAISWAL/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Mohnish Singh

Emraan Hashmi is unquestionably a horror film veteran. His tryst with the genre started with Raaz – The Mystery Continues (2009) and saw the addition of Raaz 3 (2012), Ek Thi Daayan (2013), and Raaz: Reboot (2016) to his filmography over the years. The actor now stars in Panorama Studios’ horror film Dybbuk (2021), which is the official remake of the Malayalam supernatural horror thriller Ezra (2017).

Before the grand premiere of the film on Amazon Prime Video, Eastern Eye got the opportunity to speak to Emraan Hashmi to discuss Dybbuk, what makes it different from all the other horror films that he has done before, the absence of songs in it, and what has been the proudest moment of his career so far. The actor also talks about how the coronavirus pandemic has changed him as a person.

How is Dybbuk different from all the other horror films that you have done as an actor?

It is a very different take on horror. The horror quotient, according to me, is different and amped up and more impactful in this film than other horror films from at least our country. The whole import of Jewish mythology and belief, supernatural or cult, is something that we have not seen in Hindi films before. So, that’s something new. The jump scare moments are pretty unique here.

Had you seen the original film before the makers approached you for the remake, or did you watch it later?

I had seen it almost a year before I heard the script for Dybbuk. Having said that, it was not there anywhere in my consciousness when I was doing the film. I remembered a few things, but I realised that Jay had introduced some interesting changes. He had taken horror a notch higher and put some nuanced changes in the story.

Your films generally have good melodious songs, but it is surprising that Dybbuk has no song. How do you feel?

I am very happy. Anyway, in the present situation, songs are generally doing great as singles. As far as film-based songs go, there is a little debate if they matter because if the theatrical release is not being that effective, we do not want to spoil a film with music, especially the horror films right now on OTT at home. It is not a theatrical viewing. So, we did not want to spoil that experience. It is a pure horror film for the audience, which was the way we wanted – uncorrupted, undiluted – just the way it should be.

After Jeethu Joseph, Jay K is the second Malayalam filmmaker you are working with. How working with South Indian filmmakers who are remaking their own films in Hindi is different than working with Hindi filmmakers?

I do not think it is very different. I mean, obviously, their interpretation of cinema is different. The way they do things in Malayalam is a little more subtle. Theirs is a very intelligent cinema. Some of the best films coming right now are from Malayalam cinema. I am a big fan of Malayalam cinema. It is different in vision, but on sets, everything is pretty much the same. A film set in any language can be as chaotic as it gets.

Suppose a certain scary scene does not have enough horror or jump scares, do you suggest your director add something to it to make it better because you have an experience of so many horror films behind you?

Definitely. I kept telling Jay to take the horror up, which he eventually did. We had a very serious discussion after the first wave of the pandemic. I was even more concerned because people had watched a lot of stuff on streaming platforms. There was a worldview that had changed about films generally, including horror films. I kept on telling him, zoom-calling him, asking him what was he doing about the horror scenes. We had shot 30 per cent of the film before the pandemic and shot the remaining 70 per cent, including the horror films after lockdown opened up. Thankfully, everything is looking scary in the film.

There is a 2012 film called Possession which also had a Dybbuk box. I was wondering if your film has some similarities with the Hollywood one.

I have not watched that film. Dybbuk box has been used in literature. It has been used in some plays and a couple of films also. It is just a device. Dybbuk is a part of folklore in Jewish culture. Jay has used that as a setting, which I am pretty sure has been used in a few other films also. The story of our film, however, in itself is all very original.

How much Dybbuk is different from Ezra?

Jay has tweaked a lot of things for the Pan-India audience. Ezra released in 2017. We were making a film for 2021, so we had to up the game. The visualisation is also very different. We had a fresh cinematographer come in. It looks very international. We had to bring in all those things to, kind of, make it more appealing to an audience that has seen so much great content on streaming media platforms.

What has been the proudest moment of your career?

There is no particular moment, I think. It is not even about successes at the box office. It is the great feeling that you get when you nail a scene on set. That is a proud moment because you put in hard work as an actor. The feeling you get after a hard day’s work and you feel that you nailed the scene is what we live for as an actor.

How about you doing a horror comedy film now?

I would love to do it if someone offers me a good script.

How has the coronavirus pandemic changed you as a person?

I think I have started giving more importance to my health now. I am not taking anything for granted. I have also learnt that it is important to save up for a rainy day. You realise how much you are spending when you stop earning. In lockdown, sitting at home, we did not earn anything. You realised things can actually come to a standstill. Think before you spend is what I would tell people.

Dybbuk is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Eastern Eye

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