John Abraham may not be belting out releases as often as some of his contemporaries do, but the actor believes he has the luxury of choosing his films. From the dark alleys of Rocky Handsome to the sunnier Dishoom, John talks about his films, the paucity of good scripts and how all the talk about his body makes him feel like a meat shop. Excerpts:
Your last release Rocky Handsome under-performed at the box office. How did you take that?
Of course I was disappointed. When one puts one’s blood and sweat into an endeavour, it’s frustrating when it doesn’t get the audience it deserves. Director Nishikant Kamat and I feel that we didn’t release the film at the right time, what with the T20 finals going on at that time.
Your upcoming film Dishoom is a trigger-happy one as opposed to Rocky,that was dark…
Some of my most cherished work has been done in the darkest tones-right from Jism and Paap to No Smoking, Zinda and Rocky Handsome. If I am given a chance to do another dark film with a powerful script, I’d do it happily. I love that dark zone. I feel it’s my own. Having said that, happy or dark, content is king. I want to concentrate on telling a good story. Even my production company is intent on content that leaves no member of the audience feeling cheated.
Action has always been your forte, but one doesn’t see you doing many action films…
That’s changing now. Dishoom has quite a bit of action. My film after that, Force 2 is an out-and-out action film based on a true story, so the action is done in a credible tone.
Due to the action, you had a leg injury while shooting. How much did that push back your schedule?
It put me back quite a bit. I lost 2-3 months. Even now I am restricted from doing dangerous stunts. But I can’t allow a body double because to find a standby my size is impossible. Just this week they suggested I use a body double for my stunts in Force 2. I refused. You can’t stitch my face on someone else’s body and fool the audience.
Speaking of your body, you were one of the first to introduce Bollywood audiences to six pack abs...
I’m never ashamed of talking about my body. But at times I do feel like a meat shop. There are times when I don’t know how to react. I am proud of my physique, but I can emote too. In fact, I perform the best when I’m unhappy. I function best when in angst.
Dishoom is your second film with Rohit Dhawan…
Yes, we did Desi Boys together and that was a lot of fun. I feel it was a rare instance of an intelligent Bollywood comedy. I’ve a lot of faith in Rohit. He represents a progressive thought in mainstream cinema. His brother Varun is like my own kid-brother. I love him.
Is it important for you to work with directors whose style gels with your thinking?
Absolutely. In the past I’ve tried working with directors who are successful, but whose thought process is not compatible with mine.
Are you referring to Anees Bazmi and Welcome Back?
I do not disown any of my films. And Welcome Back was a big hit.
Your production Vicky Donor was a trendsetter. What are you producing now?
Vicky Donor director Shoojit Sircar and I are developing some content. I firmly feel that a film is created on the scripting level. It’s an arduous process. You can’t rush through the screenplay. It’s very easy to make a proposal with five potentially hit songs and two big stars.
So you’re saying no one makes such proposal films any more?
Oh, you’ll be surprised (laughs). But it doesn’t work. The biggest of stars don’t work if the content sucks. Someone has to launch newcomers with strong content. I am glad I am doing it — Shoojit Sircar, Ayushmann Khurrana and now Tahir Raj Bhasin. Trust me he’s brilliant as the antagonist in Force 2. He’ll make me so proud of him when he gets all the awards. Moreover, he is a good boy.
Are you a good boy yourself?
I think so. I am a very secure person. I don’t feel threatened by the presence of other co-stars. I think Varun Dhawan knows this.
What after Dishoom and Force 2?
Nothing so far. I’ve the luxury of being selective. After Force 2 I am developing 1911, a period film based on the game of football. But that will take some time. I am open to doing any genre as long as it motivates me to push myself.