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20 Years of Murder EXCLUSIVE: “Mallika Sherawat was one of the first few to learn how to play the (PR game). If we were smarter, we would have also done something similar” – Ashmit Patel

en Bollywood News 20 Years of Murder EXCLUSIVE: “Mallika Sherawat was one of the first few to learn how to play the (PR game). If we were smarter, we would have also done something similar” – Ashmit Patel

Murder (2004) completed 20 years today on April 2. The Anurag Basu-directorial became a pathbreaking film, thanks to its intimate scenes, which along with the super-hit music, made it one of the biggest hits that year. Emraan Hashmi and Mallika Sherawat became overnight stars but one can’t deny that even Ashmit Patel delivered a memorable performance. On Murder’s 20th anniversary, Bollywood Hungama exclusively spoke with the dashing actor about the film, its memories and a lot more. Ashmit, who owns a music label Ashram Collective, also spoke about his journey as a DJ. Interestingly, he also made a remix of Murder’s much-loved song ‘Kaho Na Kaho’, on this joyous occasion, which he plans to upload on his social media account later in the day.

20 Years of Murder EXCLUSIVE: “Mallika Sherawat was one of the first few to learn how to play the (PR game). If we were smarter, we would have also done something similar” – Ashmit Patel

20 Years of Murder EXCLUSIVE: “Mallika Sherawat was one of the first few to learn how to play the (PR game). If we were smarter, we would have also done something similar” – Ashmit Patel

You had earlier worked with Mahesh Bhatt and Mukesh Bhatt on Inteha (2003). Is that how they thought of you for the role of Sudhir in Murder?
I was assisting Vikram Bhatt in Vishesh Films on a few projects. This is when Mr Mahesh Bhatt and Mukesh Bhatt saw some potential in me. I was assisting on Footpath (2003), which was Emraan’s debut film. After the first schedule was over, they told me, ‘We have a lot of faith and belief in you. We want to sign you as an actor for three films. You now stop assisting and start preparing for your debut film’. Murder was the second film that I did as part of that deal. Nazar (2005) was the third film.

Murder was directed by Anurag Basu, who is today considered one of the most brilliant directors of our times. How was it to work with him at that point?
We were all newcomers. It was the second film for me, Emraan, Mallika as well as Anurag Basu. Right from the beginning, I could see the genius in Anurag. I met him a year ago on a flight. I asked him, ‘Do you still shoot the way you used to?’! He has the movie very clearly in his head. He’ll finish shooting three-quarters of the scene. And then he’ll leave a portion of it. He would tell us, ‘We’ll shoot the remaining portion later’. I would wonder why he is doing so! Later on, when he puts everything together, you realize why he shoots the way he does. But for an actor, it can get confusing but that’s his genius. His style of storytelling is also evident in his later films. We had a few creative disagreements as well. But there was only love for each other and it continues even today (smiles).

How was your experience of working with Emraan Hashmi and Mallika Sherawat?
I have known Emraan for a long time since my assistant director days. I even assisted on his debut film. Even when we were preparing to become actors, there was a lot of common ground for both of us. Hence, there was a comfort level and he's a very easy going, relaxed chap. He doesn’t believe in drama, or starry airs just because he’s Bhatt’s bhanja.

 

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With Mallika, the dynamics of our characters had to have tension. In the film, we were married but we had not consummated our marriage. In order to maintain that stress, I decided not to get too familiar or friendly with Mallika. I used the method acting technique. I kept my distance from her. At some point, I think she felt that I had a lot of attitude! That was fine as it added to the scenes. So, when we were performing, there was already a tension built up between us. In retrospect, she probably must have understood why I did so.

Murder became a talking point due to its intimate scenes and that added to the curiosity around the film…
Khwahish (2003) was released a year before Murder, which was publicized as a film with 17 kisses. Hence, Murder wasn’t a surprise for anybody. But yes, there was definitely hype around the music and the intimate scenes. At that point in time, it was a path breaking film in its boldness. It was probably the first Hindi movie that had such a level of intimacy on screen. Now, with OTT, almost every show has it. The biggest of stars are kissing. At that time, not many people did it. It was definitely a cult film in that respect.

20 Years of Murder EXCLUSIVE: “Mallika Sherawat was one of the first few to learn how to play the (PR game). If we were smarter, we would have also done something similar” – Ashmit Patel

What kind of feedback did you get for your performance?
Let me tell you an interesting anecdote. When Anurag narrated the script to me, he didn’t tell me which character he wanted me to play. I naturally thought I’d be cast for the role of Sunny. I started giving him my feedback and how I’d like to play my character. He let me speak for a few minutes and then he told me, ‘Bhatt saab wants you to play the other character’. It took me a while to dissect since casting-wise, I’d suit Sunny. Later, I realized that I should challenge myself and mould myself into a character that I didn’t fit into. That other character was much older. I was 24 then. I had to portray a man who’s married for the second time with a child who’s 5-6 years old. I wore glasses and kept stubble to look older. I had to bring that level of maturity to the character and to do it at that age was a challenge. When the film was released, I got great feedback. People were amazed that I pulled off that character.

Did you feel that Emraan Hashmi and Mallika Sherawat took away all the limelight?
Yes, definitely, since the songs, which were huge hits, were picturized on them. Also, Mallika’s PR was very strong at that time. I think not only me but even Emraan and Anurag didn’t get much credit. It was Mallika who stole all the limelight! Kudos to her for being able to play that so well. She marketed the hell out of herself. She was one of the first few to learn how to play that game. If we were smarter, we would have also done something similar (laughs).

Are you still in touch with the Bhatts?
I haven’t spoken to them in a while. But I did bump into Vishesh Bhatt a few months ago. He’s playing an active role in the company. Since you have reminded me that the anniversary is around the corner, I should touch base with them (smiles).

Tell us about your experience of being a DJ…
It’s great. It’s a lot of fun and also hard work. Even with actors, people feel ki ‘iski toh aish ki zindagi hai’. People feel the same about DJs. But a lot of hard work and struggle goes into it. I enjoy it. I just returned from Goa where I played on the occasion of Holi. It’s equivalent to doing theatre for an actor since you get an immediate response from the audience. You know whether or not your performance is hitting a chord. You might even have to make some tweaks, depending on the response of the crowd.

You once played the role of Prince Bharat at Delhi’s Ramlila. Any plans of dabbling in theatre?
I have got offers over the years. But I was busy with my film shoots. It was difficult for me to take a few months out to dedicate to rehearsals. I am open to it now if an interesting offer comes my way.

What next?
In February end, I had a film called Scammy Boys and a web show, State vs Ahuja. I have completed work on two films and a show. It should be out soon.

Also Read: 20 Years Of Murder: When Emraan Hashmi shared his experience of shooting ‘Bheege Honth Tere’ with Mallika Sherawat: “Entire city block came to a halt as they watched us shoot. I'm sure they would have been amused watching two entangled bodies under a sheet…”

More Pages: Murder Box Office Collection , Murder Movie Review


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