John Travolta, the man behind two of the biggest Hollywood musicals of all time — Grease (1978) and Saturday Night Fever (1977) — is waiting to hear from Bollywood. And all that has reached his ears until now are mere “mumblings.” “I would love to work in Bollywood, but I have never been approached by anyone. I keep hearing that people want to work with me, but none of that has ever materialised,” says the actor, who was in Mumbai over the weekend for the world premiere of Breitling’s limited edition Navitimer Caliber 01 watch.
Though he hasn’t heard of any Indian imitations of his style incorporated in films such as Disco Dancer and Dance Dance by actor Mithun Chakraborty in the ’80s, he understands what he has in common with Hindi cinema — song and dance. “I love to perform, and I’m sure I will enjoy singing and dancing in Bollywood,” says the actor, who is but 56 now. Travolta says he has tried watching Bollywood movies, one of them being Ashutosh Gowariker’s Oscar-nominated film, Lagaan (2001).
He played a woman in his last musical, Hairspray (2007), and stunned his audience with his guise: “They needed a man to play the part, but they also needed someone who could sing and dance, which is, unfortunately, not very common in Hollywood.”
Travolta, also a certified pilot, has over 6,000 flying hours to his credit, 10 jet licenses and a few aircraft always parked in his backyard. The organisers of the Mumbai event claim he had piloted his own plane into the city airport, though there are no reports to confirm this.
On screen, the dancing star, saw an unexpected renewal in his career with Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994) that went on to earn itself a serious cult status. He says, “Honestly, I thought it would somewhere be along the lines of Reservoir Dogs (1992) in terms of its performance and run. What happened with Pulp Fiction was a revelation; I didn’t know it was possible.”
Meanwhile, he adds that the epic musical Grease’s sing-along version, which was released in the US recently, will come to India as well. Asked if he was going to make an appearance on one of the biggest musical shows currently on international television, Glee, like his co-star Olivia Newton John, he says, “I was asked to, but I don’t want to. Not because I don’t want to do TV, but because I am so valued and I don’t want to waste it. I have the two biggest musicals in history!”