As someone who has built a career out of commercial potboilers, Emraan Hashmi says he has always loved to stretch his acting muscles in roles that demand a subtle approach. Subtext is often lost in mainstream movies where the emphasis is on "spoon-feeding the audiences, believes the actor, who made his Bollywood debut with Footpath in 2003 and followed it up with a series of masala hits.
Emraan, however, made sure to give the "high decibel" cinema a miss now-and-then in films like Awarapan, Jannat, Once Upon a Time in Mumbai and Shanghai. "When I started my journey in 2003, the decibels were obviously higher. In my first couple of films, there was more projection in the characters. But I believe I have always been more comfortable in subtler performances, in (exploring) the subtext. And then I also got some opportunities -- like 'Shanghai' -- where I could do it," Emraan told PTI in an interview.
The actor got a chance to return to his favourite space with his digital foray in Netflix's Bard of Blood.
Based on Bilal Siddiqi's book of the same name, the espionage thriller will see Emraan as an expelled spy, who is recalled from his new life as a Shakespeare professor to save four Indian agents who are held as hostages in Balochistan.
Emraan says while people creating content on digital medium are aware that the audiences are smart enough to understand the subtext, filmmakers in Bollywood are still trying to spoon-feed viewers.
"In the web, because we are pitching it to the world audience, we can't be jingoistic in places where we are not meant to be. It has to be entertaining but at the same time there has to be a lot of things in subtext because audiences now like to engage with a story from their prospective. We don't need to spoon-feed them," he says.
"I don't understand why our films keep giving them everything on the platter. I am more comfortable in underplaying emotions and being less dramatic."
Produced by Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies Entertainment, the show revolves around Indian spies planted in Pakistan, but it manages to steer-clear from being jingoistic.
Emraan says for him it was very important to create an entertaining show, which focused on the life and traumas of spies. "From the scripting stage, when they sent me the first three episodes, I wanted to see how they have adapted the book. Because I have read the book.
"When we shot everybody gave such real performances. The show made all the characters look so human. Spies have their strengths and weaknesses and we have put that out there. They do get scared."
The seven-episode India Original series, also featuring Viineet Kumar, Sobhita Dhulipala, Jaideep Ahlawat, Kirti Kulhari and Rajit Kapoor amongst others, will premiere on Netflix on September 27.
Emraan says even though things are not official yet, he would like to return for the second season of the show. "I have had tremendous time working on 'Bard of Blood'. In the beginning, I had some sleepless nights trying to figure out how to play this character. But now I have tasted blood and I would want the second season. But the tricky part is that we had a book here, that the show is based on. So if we plan anything in future, we need to be cautious and hopefully make a better second season," he says.