Jannat will be Emraan's Naam" - Mahesh Bhatt

A strange thing is happening to Mahesh Bhatt. After spending years extracting creative juices from real- life all his life, now when the cricket fever has touched an all-time high, thanks to the IPL, producer Mahesh Bhatt plays down the cricketing karma of his new film Jannat.

"The cricketing world is only the wallpaper in Jannat. The cricketing field is the space in which the tale of this risk addict, played by Emraan Hashmi, unfolds. He is a typical product of the 21st century who goes into shopping malls to look for new things to buy everyday. Emraan plays the kind of person for whom the end is more important than the means. He then meets this girl who changes his life. When personal gratification becomes more important than the larger concern, then society is doomed. Emraan plays a character who needs to restrain himself from the acquisitive tendency," opines the man whose cinema has constantly walked the tightrope depicting the worlds of idealism and corruption.

Mahesh admits Jannat goes into match-fixing. "But like I said, it's reflective of the times we live in. It holds a mirror to the conscience of today's youth who believe gratification is the bottomline of existence."

He hesitates in connecting Jannat with present-day happenings in the cricketing world. "Incidents like Bob Woolmer's suspicious death were at the back of my writers' heads. But to say that Jannat replays incidents from the cricketing world like the Woolmer one would be absurd. It's just a grotesque coincidence that the actor who plays Woolmer was a close buddy of the dead man."

Mahesh would rather focus on the larger moral question that his cinema raises. "Cricketers are as human as anyone else liable to be seduced by the goodies of the world. The film points out that there's huge money in cricket. It's a money-making industry. Everybody exploits this deity called cricket. So does my hero Emraan."

He saves a special word of praise for his leading man. "I think Jannat is Emraan's coming-of-age movie. It'd do for Emraan what my Naam did for Sanjay Dutt. He is a vulnerable abominable risk-taker who falls in love with a woman who has a value-system totally contrary to his."