Emraan Hashmi, who for years has been living with the serial kisser image in `A’ certified films, had once revealed that he’d like to make a superhero movie which would appeal to a universal audience. His son, six-year-old Ayaan has beaten him to it by defeating cancer and inspiring the tag line of his upcoming book. ‘The Kiss Of Life – How A Superhero & My Son Defeated Cancer,’ co-authored with Bilal Siddiqi, traces the physical pain of the child, then three years and 10 months old, and the emotional trauma of his parents, from the diagnosis through the treatment to two cancer-free years.
“We scripted a fairytale around his fave superheroes, Iron Man and Batman, fictionalising the illness and inspiring him to fight back,” reminisces Emraan. This changed when they reached Toronto for treatment where at the hospital’s child psychology department kids are taught to fight not just a mythical bad man but the Big C.
Ayaan was told that he had a malignant tumour in the kidney after the second round of chemotherapy. His dad had no idea how much he had absorbed till they returned to Mumbai after seven months and Ayaan went back to school. His teacher told Emraan and his wife Parveen that Ayaan had been telling his school friends everything, from what cancer he had to the name of the drugs he was administered.
“Kids live in the present and are not bogged down by beliefs, norms and fears. As they say, ignorance is bliss and pediatric cancer has a high success rate,” Emraan says, admitting that as a parent, he’s been living in fear as there is nothing worse than hearing that your son has cancer. “You wonder what you did wrong. Was it the environment at home or something you gave him to eat?” The fear escalates, becoming deep-rooted after the chemo ends because now there is nothing left inside to fight the ailment, and continues through the remission. “It’s a knockout blow that life delivers, brings the castles in the air crashing down.”
Along the way, the actor-father developed a strong sense of empathy, not just for the suffering, but everyone. And fear gave way to fearlessness, which reflected in his career moves, from the Azhar biopic to ‘Raaz Reboot’ and ‘Murder 4’.