Call it a coincidence or a calculated move, but Emraan Hashmi has maintained a distance from comedies despite his knack for exploring different subjects. Now, as Bollywood is heading back to work, the actor has greenlit his first laugh riot, Sab First Class. The film — to be directed by Balwinder Singh Janjua who previously developed the script of Saand Ki Aankh (2019) and Mubarakan (2017) — narrates how the common man sometimes goes beyond his means to fulfil his aspirations.
Hashmi, who has given us everyday heroes in Shanghai (2012) and Tigers (2018), believes Sab First Class studies greed and its intrinsic association with class disparities, through the lens of humour. “The film is a hilarious yet sensitive story about how the protagonist can go to any length to fulfil his needs. In the bargain, he may lose his family, his standing in society, and gets caught in a situation he cannot find his way out of. Balwinder’s script is a laugh riot, but has its poignant moments as well,” explains the actor, adding that he came on board right after the first narration.
Though he has yet to wrap up the shoot of Sanjay Gupta’s Mumbai Saga, Hashmi is hoping to take the satire on floors by the year-end. Janjua, who has doubled up as the scriptwriter with Rupinder Chahal and Anil Rodhan, says he was keen to present the actor in a new light. “From the beginning of his career, Emraan hasn’t shied away from bold or negative parts. He has been stereotyped due to his past roles. When he heard the narration, he realised that this is the right script to break the image,” says Janjua. The filmmaker is conducting virtual tours in a bid to zero in on locations amid the current travel restrictions.
Talking about his narration with Emraan, he says, “I had been working on the script with my writers Rupinder Chahal and Anil Rodhan for a while. I happened to meet a friend to catch up. And he heard the story and thought why not set up a narration with Emraan. It is something he’s never done. I jumped at the prospect and said Emraan is outstanding for the role. We worked on the script and tightened it up and tailored it for him. As soon as he heard the script, his body language indicated that he was on. Although he wanted to sleep on it as any actor should. We did a few sessions on video conferencing as well, which is unlike anything I’ve ever done before. A week or so later Emraan called me with suggestions and his thoughts. He was on and we were super excited. Emraan is an actor with so much untapped potential. He’s been stereotyped with his past roles and when he heard the narration I think he realised that this is the right script to step out of that image with. He’s a very funny guy in person and has an ordinariness that is very endearing. I think it’ll translate well onto the screen.”