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Chronicling my sons battle with cancer in a book gave me closure: Emraan Hashmi

Emraan Hashmi - Kartik (2)
Emraan Hashmi (Photo: Kartik Thakur)

In thirteen years of his film career, Emraan Hashmi has played variety of roles. He played a gangster, a bookie, a cop, a lover, among other characters. Though he got tagged as the Serial Kisser? of Bollywood quite early in his career, he has evolved as an actor over these years and is no longer known more for his kissing scenes than his acting. Quite contrasting to his on-screen casual persona, he played the role of a strong father in real life when his little son was battling with cancer in 2014. Parallel to the czars of Bollywood (Khans, Bachchans), he has carved a niche for himself in the industry. In his last outing, he played the character of the controversial former Indian cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin. Though the movie can’t be categorised as a grosser, Emraan was praised for the way he portrayed the character of Azhar. In an exclusive interview with Nation Next, Emraan Hashmi talks about Azhar?, his journey in Bollywood and his book The Kiss of life.


You must have grown up watching Mohammad Azharuddin play for the Indian Cricket Team. How excited were you when the opportunity for playing Azhar? came to you?

I was so excited that I didn’t even hear the script! I just took up the project knowing that it’s Mohammad Azharuddins life story. I have always been his fan and I have seen him play through the ’80s and the ’90s. He was one of a kind and no one played like him. Azhar bhai came from humble background in Hyderabad and made a mark. He got selected in the Indian Cricket Team and went ahead to become the captain. And then in 2000, everything was snatched away from him. I felt that it would be a very interesting life to put up on the celluloid.

Mohammad Azharuddin went on to become one of the most accomplished captains of the Indian cricket team. Clearly, when you play a character like that there is a lot of pressure?

There was a lot of pressure and it gave me sleepless nights. After the initial excitement, there was nervousness. I often asked myself, Can I do it?? Once we started shooting, after the first couple of shots went okay, Azhar bhai said that I was doing well in the cricketing shots. That gave me confidence. But it was a grilling four months of learning cricket for me and thankfully Azhar bhai was there throughout.

How difficult was it to imitate the cricketing and personality mannerisms of Mohammad Azharuddin correctly? 

Everything was difficult: right from the way he would walk on the field with his collar up and an amulet around his neck, to his lazy charm, to the flick shot he often played towards the leg side. As I was always an off side player, I had a tough time connecting the ball and hitting it on the leg side. Prior to starting shooting for ‘Azhar,’ I used to train heavy weights, so my wrist used to hurt a lot whenever I tried the flick shot. I had to start athletic form of training and Yoga to cope with the same.

You said in an interview that when you were shooting for Raaz: Reboot, you couldn’t get out of Azhars character. Was it because you got emotionally attached to the character?

I get emotionally attached to every character I play. But in this case, because the shoot went on for a year and half, it took a lot of time for me to get out of the character. Mentally and physically, I started doing things, which Azhar bhai would do. I started eating with a spoon and fork like him. It took me some time to stop walking the way he walks. Azhar bhai keeps shaking his head and I kept doing that on the shoot of another film. I had to mentally tell myself again and again, Stop being Azhar now!

When an actor plays a real life character on screen, it is bound to teach him a lot many things. What has Azhar? taught you? 

I find Azhar bhais life and mine very similar in some cases. I have been through my own set of problems in life and I kept my patience and tried to be simplistic, down to earth and humble. The movie Azhar? has given me a lot of inner strength, patience and courage to deal with hurdles and obstacles. It has also taught me to be grounded.

Prachi Desais and your chemistry was loved by everyone in Once upon a time in Mumbaai. How was it working with her again in Azhar and since it was your second film together, how easy was it? 

There was an ease from the first film itself. We are friends and we have kept in touch ever since Once upon a time in Mumbaai. Prachi is a lovely girl. Shes really professional and hard working. She puts her heart and soul into the character she plays.

Nargis Fakhri had a problem with the makers of Azhar? as she wasn’t told about the kissing scenes earlier. Did you sense any discomfort in her during the shoot of the film? 

There was no discomfort. When you’re shooting for a film, you really have to be hundred percent convinced about your character, and if you aren’t, it will be visible on screen. The disparity between Prachi and Nargis helped the characters they played. Sangeeta Bijlani (played by Nargis) was more glamorous, Naureen (played by Prachi) was more of a girl next door. They both fit the characters well. Nargis and I got to know each other pretty well during the shoot.

You said that you want to do more films, which draw from reality. Whom would you want to play on screen? 

I think Yuvrajs Singh’s life story is very interesting. I find Lance Armstrongs story very interesting as well. His story is like Azhar bhais story. He held seven world titles, he survived cancer and then everything was snatched away from him. Hes controversial and inspirational at the same time.

You recently penned down a book, The Kiss of life?, which chronicles the story of your sons battle with cancer. Was it emotionally draining for you to write the book

It was. I thought it would be very painful but reliving all the times again through writing proved to be more therapeutic than painful for me. I started enjoying the writing process. I started introspecting a lot. It helped me get a perspective about the trauma we went through and gave me closure.

It’s often observed that when cancer survivors come out in the open with their struggles of battling with the disease, it gives strength to people suffering from it. Do you think that this book will give a lot of strength to family members and people suffering from cancer?

I hope so. When we were going through this ourselves, we found strength by talking to other people who had been through similar situation. Reading books gave us guidance and perspective about the problem and made us feel that we can overcome it. So, I think this book will also give guidance to not just parents whose kids are suffering with cancer but even to people who never encountered the disease. Through my research, I came to know that one 10 percent of cancer patients get it genetically. It is primarily a lifestyle disease, so one can reduce the probability of cancer by adapting a good lifestyle.

Have you started valuing life more now? 

I have started valuing life, valuing the people I love and have started spending time with them. You never know what will happen in the future. Life at any point can go in any direction, that’s what I have realised.

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Thane Municipal Corporation adds 25 beds as COVID cases rise




Radhika Dhawad | Thane

Thane Municipal Corporation added 25 additional beds separately in the wake of rapidly rising COVID-19 cases.

Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) added 25 additional beds in Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Hospital Kalwa apart from arranging a special ward  dedicated to COVID-19 patients. The total number of active patients in the city stood at 252 while five succumbed to the virus.  Meanwhile, TMC Commissioner Abhijit Bangar said a ‘death audit’ of patients who died of COVID would be conducted. The TMC has ensured it has additional stock of oxygen concentrators, testing kits, medicines, to name a few. Bangar told HT, “Due to the increasing number of Covid patients, it is necessary for everyone to be alert.”

He added, The number of Covid tests should be increased to stay one step ahead of the disease. As a result, the number of patients is likely to increase due to increased testing. However, as per the ‘test, isolate, treat’ protocol for Covid, it becomes necessary to isolate and treat more and more patients. The testing centres will not remain closed even for a single day. At the same time, more arrangements for testing will be made immediately in public places, markets, railway stations, malls.” 

India recorded 3,095 new COVID cases and five deaths in last 24 hours.

Also read: Nagpur records 22 COVID cases in 24 hours

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After Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification, his namesake who contested from Wayanad disqualified




Radhika Dhawad | Wayanad
An independent candidate named Rahul Gandhi has been disqualified from contesting polls for failing to lodge account of election expenses.

Rahul Gandhi

An independent candidate for Lok Sabha elections named Rahul Gandhi was disqualified from contesting polls for failing to lodge account of election expenses. Gandhi, who’s name figures as ‘Rahul Gandhi K E S/o Valsamma’ in an Election Commission list of persons, had contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as an Independent and had received 2196 votes from the Wayanad seat in Kerala – a constituency from where ex-Congress MP Rahul Rajiv Gandhi had won with over seven lakh votes.

However, since it is mandatory for all contestants to submit their account of election expenses among other mandatory requirements under EC rules and the Representation of the People Act.

Rahul Gandhi K E S/o Valsamma stood disqualified to contest polls from September 13, 2021 till September 13, 2024. According to Section 10A, the Election Commission can disqualify a contestant for a period of three years from the date of the order if he/she has failed to lodge an account of election expenses within the time and in the manner required by law and has no good reason or justification for the failure.

Also read: ‘CBI under UPA govt. pressurised me to frame Modi,’ recalls Amit Shah

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Nagpur News

Nagpur records 22 COVID cases in 24 hours




Radhika Dhawad | Nagpur

A total of 22 patients tested positive for COVID-19 in Nagpur in past 24 hours on Thursday. Almost 242 people were tested in the city.

A total of 22 patients tested positive for COVID-19 in Nagpur in past 24 hours on Thursday. Almost 242 people were tested in the city, out of which 15 belonged to urban area while and 6 were from the rural areas, and one from outside Nagpur district. 

At present, there are 72 active patients in the city. Three new cases of the new XBB.1.16 variant of COVID-19 were detected that took the total tally to five in the district.  

India recorded 3,095 new COVID cases and five deaths in last 24 hours.

Also read: CELESTIAL! Unique alignment of Moon and 5 planets

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