Straight-forward, intelligent and handsome – John Abraham meets us as his film ‘RAW’ hit the theatres. The actor turned producer has come a long way over the years – here he talks about creating his own space and his kind of movies!

Is it a conscious decision to do some real-life based patriotic stories?
Doing a film like this is not by design, it’s by default. I work on scrips that appeal to me. I do films which I love as an audience. ‘Raw’ blew my mind, ‘Batla House’ blew my mind, similarly, ‘Pagalpanti’ – because Anees Bazmee and I have worked before, I enjoyed the space. ‘Raw’ is not a stereotypical patriotic film. Whether he is a spy or a trailer, one never knows from the trailer, so there’s a lot to be revealed when one sees the film. As far as real stories are concerned, yes, the audience is very attracted to real stories. Fact is always stranger than fiction. It’s easier to present something that’s real, it’s difficult to concord something on your own and put it out there. And if you know something has really happened, so it brings about some kind of credibility. The fact of the matter is, I’m a lover of India, I’m patriotic by heart, so maybe such films just gravitate towards me.

How many avatars do we see you in ‘RAW’?
There are 15 totally, but there are three main. We had a fantastic script, I give credit to my co-producer to come up with the title based on the names of the characters. We thought it’s an interesting title. ‘RAW’ is inspired from three different characters – Romeo Akbar Walter – true stories of three characters which we’ve culminated into one. Otherwise, everything in the film is fact. Everything is exactly how it happened. The film is not to educate but to entertain. When you walk out, you will feel something. Robbie Grewal, the director is a film’s hero. So, I’m saying ‘RAW’ is a great film. I don’t say that about too many films.

Obviously there’s a big turnaround when we look at your modelling days as opposed to the kind of films you’re doing now. How has your acting evolved ever since?
When I was doing modelling, I was doing my MBA, so I was always politically aware. But at that time, because I did marketing, I knew that if you sell the product, you have to sell the USP of the product. I was a product. It was about my physicality. So, I used my physicality upto a point where I had to sell myself. Then I went on to do, what I really want to do. So, after I became a producer, you saw that the level of performance has been completely different from before I became a producer. Of course, ‘New York’, ‘Taxi No.9211’, ‘Zinda’ have been good films, but after turning producer, there’s been a certain maturity in the performances because I’m convinced about what I’m doing. ‘Vicky Donor’ was my film, but at the end of the day, I cast the best person for it. Similarly, for ‘Madras Café’, I cast the best I thought. It’s important that you cast right and when you cast right, the performances are great.

How have you managed to build a wall, despite the fact that stars are always being followed, looked upon with the paparazzi culture?
It’s been very simple. In another interview someone told me that you don’t fit in anywhere, you’ve built your own space, and you rule that space. That’s exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to create a space for myself and live in that space because if you constantly confirm to a certain style or culture then you land up at every party or a camp. I’m not a follower, I don’t know how to do that. I don’t understand that culture which is why I do my kind of films. I don’t go to any director with hands folder to give me a film because I believe I can create my own content. I don’t think my content is the best in the world but at least today when anyone goes in to watch a film by JA Entertainment, they will expect something different. That’s what I wanted to achieve. I just want to create different stories that engage people. That’s why I keep myself private because what is the point in me sitting somewhere and shooting what I’m eating or doing whatever. That’s what the problem is today – that there are so many social media stars but what have they done in cinema. Have they done anything that’s impacted you in cinema? No. So, it’s important to let your work do the talking. It’s easy for me to stand bear bodied on social media, or do 40 different forms of exercises but that’s not what I wanted to do. For me, ‘RAW’, ‘Batla House’, or even ‘Pagalpanti’ will do the talking.

You don’t seem to be seen at award shows as well…
Because I have least respect for awards, barring, just the national award, they don’t even call me. Was ‘Parmanu’ worth any nominations? Yes, but they won’t consider it, because of my disrespect for them. It’s become a laughing stock, and we still stand next to some Pan Masala brand at award shows. But that’s okay, that’s a lifestyle. You’ve chosen to dance at weddings, you can do this also.

What’s your view on our current Censor Board scenario?
I’m really surprised that there are no cuts suggested in ‘RAW’. We just had to remove two words. One we changed, and another one we beeped. Apart from that, the Censor has passed the entire film and they loved it. So, I give credibility to them for that.

Tell us about ‘Pagalpanti’ that you’re currently shooting for.
I love Anees Bazmee, I am a big fan of his work so I really enjoy the space. It’s just a fun film, a roller-coaster ride. It’s a universal film, anyone from the age of 4 and upwards can watch it. Trade Magazine