Interview By: Amul Vikas Mohan
John Abraham is already garnering great accolades for the recently released ‘Dishoom’. Not only has he proved his caliber as an actor over the years but also established himself as a good producer. We catch up with the actor for a chat where he talks about his latest release and the kind of cinema he wants to make!
Is ‘Dishoom’ the kind of space that you really enjoy?
Yes, it’s a space that I really enjoy watching. It’s really amazing and fantastic that I am part of a space that I enjoy watching.
Can we expect the ‘Dishoom’ franchise to just be like ‘Dhoom’?
I think ‘Dishoom’ is very young franchise, the director is young, his thoughts are young, his projection is young and it’s a very contemporary film. It’s going to fly with the youngsters. So, honestly, I think only a couple of films are franchisable like ‘Force’. ‘Dishoom’ is a film that could go in a franchise but it’s all about the economics, it’s all about how the film does. I can sit here and tell you that it should be a franchise but if tomorrow the film doesn’t do well, the producer may not want to make it into a franchise. But I do believe that ‘Dishoom’ is a very franchisable film. And why I spoke about ‘Force 2’ is because just like Sylvester Stallone has his ‘Rocky’, ‘Rambo’ and Matt Damon has his ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’, John Abraham has his ‘Force’. I feel that each one of us have a very defined space or franchise that we hold on to.
How was it working with Varun Dhawan?
Varun and I have known each other for many years. We knew each other when I was doing ‘Desi Boys’ with Rohit. So, working with him was just a natural extension of how we use to be regularly. There was no designed effort from Varun or from me like “Oh, we are meeting a new co-star and we now have to understand how the mechanics works and all. With Varun, it was just natural progression because we get along so well off-screen that we translated that to on screen chemistry. And if you see both of us, it is evident that we both are so comfortable with each other.
What made you to say yes to the film at the script level?
I said yes to ‘Dishoom’ because of Rohit Dhawan because I have done ‘Desi Boys’ with him and I know his potential as a director. If Rohit Dhawan has offered me a script that I didn’t like, I would have still done it. Thankfully for me, ‘Dishoom’ was a fantastic script because Rohit concentrates not on the proposal but on the story that he wants to tell. ‘Dishoom’s’ script is very relevant in today’s times. The point I am trying to make is that even the Sri Lankan cricket team got attacked in Pakistan few years ago. And we all know what’s happening all around the world these days. So, when you are talking about a cricketer getting kidnapped, it’s not something unheard. It’s a possibility. It can happen to anyone. Taking from that very relevant space, Rohit has created these two cops who are trying to solve this problem. Kabir Shergill, is a complete no nonsense cop, who is always in a bad mood because he is dumped by his girlfriend and you can’t mess with him. He doesn’t want anybody around that can mess with his brain and he meets exactly that guy, Junaid Ansari. How they get close and how their relationship grows through the entire film. That’s what ‘Dishoom is. It’s been a fun space to work in.
Tell us about the action in the film.
‘Dishoom’ is not specifically an action film, it’s everything on its plate like action, romance, comedy , song & dance, it’s a mix of everything. It’s just the way Rohit has planned the film. I know how Rohit plays with his characters, he wants them to be very real. Rohit was very sure about how he wants his characters to behave. For example, when I heard the characterisation without hearing the script, I said “Rohit, I don’t want to smoke”. He said, “No bro, the character smokes, it’s very important to the film”. When you will see the film, you will understand why because smoking is relevant in the film from the first frame to last. Many things are played around it, of course smoking is not cool and we don’t propagate it.
How do you see your journey as an actor?
I think I am learning and learning every day. There are certain films that are really special to me, in terms of performances I hold very close to my heart. I hold ‘Madras Cafe’, ‘New York’, ‘Taxi No.9211’, ‘Jism’ very close to my heart. It’s not about me performing better with every film, there are points where certain directors held me really well. Anand Rai recently said “There is no good or bad actor, there is good or bad director”. That’s a fact. You can give the best actor a bad script, it doesn’t work but you give a actor a fantastic script and you will see how it shines out. It’s just about the right casting and characterisation.
How was it working with Akshaye Khanna?
He is one of the best actors of our generation. It’s an honour and pleasure working with him. We got along really well. I know he is been off the scene for a long time. Each actor has got his own life cycle, he goes up, comes down, stays out of all this and then comes back with films. Akshaye is on his way up again, ‘Dishoom’ is going to re-introduce him. He is going to be so busy with work. It’s not only with Akshaye, it’s with each one of us. Akshaye is a fantastic guy, just very quiet and reserved but actually a very nice soul.
So are you planning to produce regional films or just sticking to hindi films?
I’m very much in a space of making a regional film, right now I’m finalising on Marathi and Malayalam films, because my father is from Karela so I have a very strong infinity towards the community. The other one, is of course in Marathi because I’m a Marashtrian at the end of the day. I’m born and brought up in Bombay so obviously it’s our land. And I believe regional cinema is more content driven than Hindi. And I want to make Malayalam films not because my dad’s from there but because the best cinema comes from there. There was a film ‘Premam’ its amazing you don’t need to know the language, subtitles are enough to understand the film. On the other Gujarati films are also doing great. We just need to keep a note of everything.
You have always had good chemistry with your co-stars, be it in ‘ Dostana’ with Abhishek even with Akshay in ‘Desi Boyz’ and now we see you with Varun in ‘Dishoom’ so is it a conscious affort or its natural?
I believe someone has to do it right? I feel I’m the only actor who gets along with great co stars and hangs around with them, makes them feel comfortable.
Now that you are turning into a full time producer, how does that feel?
Yes I’m working on that, hiring people, setting things once the idea is fixed I’ll go and present it to xyz actors. I’m very clear when I produce films. If I fit into something that’s my priority if I don’t fit that’s not my priority. I don’t mind collaborations but the idea should be to tell a good story. I like films which are in the real space or in the gangster space or even a commercial film with a good story. I like everything which has good content