John Abraham claims he’s here to make cinema, not clichés, and adds that, for him, nothing is more exciting than good content. Of course, since he has turned producer, he has two successful ventures — Vicky Donor (2012) and now Madras Café — to back that claim.
The kind of cinema you produce is content-driven. Does competition from more commercial movies bother you?
I just believe in creating content, and if that demands no songs and if it is un-Bollywood like, then I go with my gut. I’m not worried at all. I was clear that I didn’t want to market the film too much and waste money on
publicity and advertising. I was told that visibility was low, but I said that there would be two films (Chennai Express and Once Upon Ay time In Mumbai Dobaara) tom-tom-ing and screaming their lungs out before us, so the best thing would be to hold tight. As a producer, I smartly controlled my budget.
Do you always calculate your moves?
Chess is my favourite game. Yes, I am calculated in my approach to films. I think 30-40 moves ahead and always have various back-up plans ready. But nothing is fool-proof, and I am
susceptible to failure. I’ve failed so often that I’ve become hardened. I’m not conniving. Having a management background helps me position my films the way I want to. There was a chance that I would be told to dance in a mall to promote Madras Cafe. But I wouldn’t have done that. I want to defy existing laws and show that content can run at the box-office.
Tell us something about your girlfriend, Priya Runchal.
Priya is just a regular, super girl. She brings a lot of maturity to the relationship, and is very supportive. The good thing is that anyone in her place would love to be photographed, but there’s a sense of dignity and class that this girl has. I respect and love that. It’s an attractive quality. We make a great team.
Does a stable personal life have an important role to play in your professional life being on the rise?
Priya has a sensible approach to life. And when your personal life is stable, it reflects in your professional space as well. It all comes together because I’m allowed to do what I want to do. I’m allowed to spread my wings and fly. I’m allowed to make the kind of films I want to, and I’m not questioned on anything. I’m given a free rein and it’s beautiful. So yes, I guess that’s true.
Why do you avoid being in the public eye so much?
I don’t go for award functions or parties. I have a problem with them. I don’t enjoy that space. My kind of crowd is regular. I love my industry and I’m proud to be a part of it, but they know that I won’t land up or dance. I’m principled in that way. And I think my credibility as an actor, and a producer should speak louder through my films than gimmicks.
I don’t have a problem with other people doing it. I’m happy that they do it and they’re damn good at it. Maybe it’s my shortcoming or my way of thinking.