John Abraham – the lover, John Abraham – the action hero, and now John Abraham – the villain. From many roles to varied ones, from quantity to quality – in the last few years, John has been able to prove his mettle with roles that he is extremely choosy about. And ever since the role of Manya Surve landed in his kitty, the actor is unsure of how to match up to the stature of a role such as that of Surve’s. Ananya Bhattacharya of Zeenews.com, chats up with the actor. Snippets of the conversation:
When it comes to co-stars, is there something that you look for in one?
No… not really. I don’t think so much. I just think that the co-star should be cast rightly in the space – that’s it.
Who all would you call your favourite co-stars?
Abhishek (Bachchan) and Akshay (Kumar). Completely. Look at all my hit films – I’ve been with Abhishek and Akshay: ‘Garam Masala’, ‘Desi Boyz’, ‘Housefull’ with Akshay; ‘Dhoom’ and ‘Dostana’ with Abhishek. Five films with two of these co-stars have been fabulous.
Name one director who you’d trade anything to work with.
In our industry… there are many, but I’d love to work with Anurag Kashyap again. I still believe that ‘No Smoking’ is my best performance till date.
When it comes to films, do you have a favourite genre? You’ve been seen in action films, comedies and so on.
I love action-comedy. I think it’s sweet, fun. If you’re asking it to me as a person who watches films, it’s action-comedy; a person who does films – then I think it’s very high concept films. Like ‘No Smoking’ or maybe something like ‘Inception’ – something in that space: where people just say ‘Wow! What a concept!’ That is what works for me: high concept films. ‘No Smoking’ was one such film; had it released five or ten years later, it would have been a big hit. It’s twenty years beyond its time.
Do you want to get into direction as well?
I will. Maybe four or five years later, but I will.
One actor you’d want to direct.
That’s a very good question. (pauses) I’d like to direct Shah Rukh Khan. Ya. Because I know that for me, Shah Rukh looked brilliant in ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’... very handsome. I think he looks better with age – and men look better with age, in general. The most attractive men in the industry are the guys who are older – Salman (Khan), Aamir (Khan), Shah Rukh (Khan). I’d love to direct Shah Rukh because I feel that there’s so much that I can do with him that’s so different and there’s his platform of a superstar too.
You came into the industry with ‘Jism’. Any plans of working with the Bhatts again?
I owe my career to Mahesh Bhatt and I’ll never forget that. I’ll give my right arm to work with him. He’s decided not to direct again – that’s different – but I’d love to work with him.
Let’s move on to female attention. How do you handle so much of it – women smitten by you, falling head over heels in love with you, fainting all over you?
It’s a beautiful feeling actually: it’s very nice. If you learn to channelize those feelings and understand that you need to respect them, that’s the most beautiful part of it. At the same time, if you can understand what your strong points are and if you can manipulate them on film, then it’s brilliant. And I’d love to do that! I’d love to be a superman (laughs).
If there’s one person from Hollywood who you’d want to work with in a film, who would it be?
As a female actor, only one person. I’m in love with her – Meryl Streep. For me, she’s the best actor in the world. Man or woman; India, Hollywood, anywhere – for me, she’s number one – Meryl Streep.
As a person in the industry, how much do you think you’ve grown?
As a person – completely. I’m an integral part of the industry today. I believe now that I’ve become a producer and also the fact that I’m acting, I feel like a family with my producers and talk more openly with them. I’m a part of the family now. If somebody addresses the Hindi film industry today, I feel that I’m also being addressed.
How do you deal with criticism?
I handle it in a very constructive manner. If I’m criticised for something, I try and look into it and find out where is it that things didn’t work the way they were supposed to have and work accordingly.
Finally, a few words for people who look up to you...
Work hard and be fit. Always. There’s absolutely no alternative to it.