When the devastatingly handsome man stepped into the Hindi film industry a good decade back, girls fell hook, line and sinker for him. Ten years down the line, they still do – and a lot more, at that. For John Abraham’s looks have now found their competition in his acting skills. On celluloid, Abraham is able to capture as many hearts as off it. Ananya Bhattacharya of Zeenews.com, in a candid chat with the ‘Dhoom’ star, speaks about that very capability of his and a lot more. Excerpts from the interview:
Do you think ‘Shootout at Wadala’ will be able to be your biggest film till date?
Ya… I think it’s going to be a complete game-changer; it’s going to be a second innings for me; it’s going to be a shocker to an audience who’ll say that they’ve never seen John Abraham like this before. We’d done a lot of research on Manya Surve from a photograph and we met a lot of people. Manya Surve was a Mumbai Shri - a professional body builder. There’s only one shot – if you’ve seen the trailer – where you can see that. But the fact is that he was a very tough guy. Outside of that, I think in terms of performance, I think it’s going to be a revelation.
How challenging was Manya Surve for you?
It was fun, actually. It was very challenging, but it was fun. Fun – because it was shot in locations that were real. We shot in areas where Bombay hadn’t moved in time. So even in 2013, we had to shoot in places where Bombay looked like 1979 – and we found those places in South Bombay where Time had just stopped. When you see the film, you’d think that it’s great set design – which at some places, it was – but at others, there were real locations. From that angle, it was really tough; but overall, it was a great shoot, great fun. We’ve still got about ten days of shooting left.
’Dhoom’ last had you playing a negative character. Do you feel comfortable playing one? Do you prefer a negative role to one that is romantic?
I do prefer it; it’s not that I don’t. ‘I, Me aur Main’ has got me in a real way. It’s a film that I’d made only for women. So I guess every woman is going to like that film. It’s a small, sweet film that comes in between ‘Race 2’ and ‘Shootout at Wadala’. But ya… I do feel normal is boring. I like playing characters with shades of grey or a little negativity.
Three upcoming films – ‘Race 2’, ‘Shootout at Wadala’, ‘I, Me aur Main’. Which one are you looking forward to the most?
It’s like asking a parent which of your three kids is the best. I think I’m very excited about ‘Race 2’ because it’s releasing now. ‘I, Me aur Main’ because the concept of me as an action hero is so strong that one of my friends who I showed the film to, she said, “From Action Abraham to Actor Abraham’.” She found the performance sublime; called it ‘amazing’; and added that “I just hope people fall in love with this character!”
‘Shootout at Wadala’ is again, beyond a revelation because it’s massive; it’s really big. It’s like I keep saying, it’d probably be a problem for me after ‘Shootout…’ to find a role like Manya Surve. It’s set a benchmark. Now to match up to that will be an issue. I’ve already started thinking about what script I’d pick up after ‘Shootout…’. And then after that, I have ‘Madras Café’.
Let’s talk about John – the Producer. There’s seldom been an instance where a producer has struck gold with his very first venture. How do you feel after ‘Vicky Donor’?
I want to enjoy it a lot more; and I’m doing so with someone like you who’s congratulating me for it (laughs). I remember meeting Shabana ji (Azmi) on the flight to Delhi yesterday, and she congratulated me and said, ‘The film won so many awards. You didn’t go for a single one… you’re a very modest producer – but stay that way!” And what means a lot to me, is creating content, good cinema, but not screaming from the rooftop saying ‘I’ve done this!’.
The script of ‘Vicky Donor’ was such an unusual one. Is there something that you noticed in it that made you take it up?
Totally – I noticed the very germ of it, and realized that it was going to fly. When I said that, even Shoojit (Sircar) was sceptical about my seriousness. Then, when I saw the edit, I got up and said that this film was going to be big. No one understood me then. I marketed it all alone – went to places to market it, all alone. They didn’t want to see anybody else – because there was no recognisable face. And back then, I’d said that that boy (Ayushmann Khurrana) and that girl (Yami Gautam) – they’re going to be big.
As John gears up for three releases in the recent future, here’s wishing him all the best for the same... Keep watching this space for more exclusive stuff on the actor!