He was always into sports.. but he makes his living from movies. His new film, Hook ya Crook, combines both. John Abraham in a khel khel mein encounter with Hiren Kotwani.
Hello dost.. so, is the Dostana sequel on?
Yeah, I’ve heard that Abhishek [Bachchan] is interested and [director] Tarun [Mansukhani] is thinking of taking the story forward. Everyone at the Dharma Production office has his or her own ideas for the sequel. [Grinning] I have one too. It starts off pretty staid.. Abhishek and I are settled and everything is smooth sailing till we meet at a holiday
destination and then. [Laughs at the rapt expression on my faces] Watch it to learn more.
Abhishek and you seem to share great male bonding.
I love the guy, he’s an amazing co-star. And I don’t think he can live without me. <b1>
After Garam Masala and Dostana, Hook ya Crook, is your third comedy. Is it getting easier to make people laugh now?
Comedy is David’s (director David Dhawan) forte. Hook ya Crook will take me out of my comfort zone and help me expand my range as an actor.
It should help me reach out to the audience in the single screen theatres.. the aam janta. (Chuckles) And after this movie, no one will say, John can’t dance. I’ve moved every joint.. even those that I didn’t know existed.
This is the first time you’re working with David, right?
Yeah, but when UTV, the production company, gave me the first draft, I didn’t know who was going to direct the film. I accepted it because I loved Rensil’s (D’Silva) script. Hook ya Crook is a departure from what David has done before, he’s working with a new bunch of actors.
After football (Dhan Dhana Dhan.. Goal) you have moved to cricket now.
Hook ya Crook is not so much about cricket as it is about a bunch of prisoners who even out their differences over a game. Quite a while after the project was announced, I sat down with David and realised he was just as keen as me to make it. Three days later, everything was finalised and work on the set had started.
Apparently, you’ve also been instrumental in getting your good friend, Mahendra Singh Dhoni on board.
The film needs a star batsman but we haven’t signed anyone yet. Mahi is the best cricketer in the world. I don’t think there’s a better captain, batsman or wicket-keeper. As a friend, he asked me about my work and I’ve told him about Hook ya Crook.
(Smiles) He told me to hold the bat like an axe and go chopping at the ball. Mahi and I are friends for life. We’ll be buddies even after his cricketing career and my run in films comes to an end. If we need him, we will sign him.
With more tips from Mahi, think you can make it to the Indian XI?
My coach, Mr Lad, who has also trained Rohit Sharma, is keen that I play for the country. The other day he called me for practice.
When I told him I was shooting.. and he was like, “Forget films, you need to work on your grip, stance and technique more. I want you to be the first actor to play cricket for India.”
Nagesh Kukunoor’s Aashaayein seems to have become Nirashayein and is reportedly having trouble finding buyers.
Everything has been sorted out now. New York will release first, followed by Aashaayein. It’ll work but has to be handled with kid gloves, keeping in mind the sensibilities of the script.
I’m proud of my work and I will stand by Nagesh in the same way that I stood by Anurag Kashyap during No Smoking. I’m honoured they approached me for their movies.
Let’s move to New York..
It will be a cult film. The one man in the industry who knows best what I need is Aditya Chopra. He offered me Dhoom saying bikes are my property.
New York is topical today, post 26/11 and the attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers. You cannot marginalise any country or community.. we are all one people. Kabir (director Kabir Khan) documents his research. So you have videos of people discussing experiences. It helps you understand your character better.
You’re venturing into production. What prompted the decision?
Sabal Shekhawat is one of my most favourite directors. He made the Coke ads with Aamir Khan and the Sony-Ericsson Thump ad with Hrithik Roshan. I’ve done some ads with him too.
Three years ago, I told him to make a film. He wasn’t interested then but now he has come up with a fabulous script for an action thriller. It’s something I think I’m good at and want to do.
There’s one film being co-produced by UTV with Nishikant Kamat as the director. Before that, I also have a film each with
Madhu Mantena and Abbas Tyrewala.
As an actor, I’m also doing Bombay Velvet with Anurag (Kashyap) and Deven Khote’s directorial debut, Film City, though that’s only a special appearance. I guess that’s enough in these times of economic slowdown.
You seem really upbeat about your movies.
I’m happy with the choices I’ve made. The audience has always held my hand.. so have my producers, directors and co-workers. I’m not the industry’s child but they have always made me feel I’m one of them. It’s beautiful.
During Goal, you got Bipasha Basu interested in football. Has she got you hooked on to any of her interests?
I’m too much of a sportsperson anyway for anyone to get me enthused into any sport. I can say that’s in my blood.. my mom used to play basketball for India.
Bipasha has spoken about wanting to start a restaurant and a clothesline. You already have your own line of jeans with Wrangler. When do we see Bipasha’s signature collection?
Bipasha is knowledgeable about food and fashion. I’ve told her she must do something on those lines. She’s a rock star. She’s doing something with Reebok, for starters.
Reportedly, you egged her on to sign Aa Dekhen Zara with your friend Neil Nitin Mukesh.. and also wanted her lend her voice to the title track with him later on.
I don’t know if she’s singing, is she? Actually, we don’t usually discuss work. She is more of an advisor to me. I’m impulsive.. I speak my mind. It has got me into trouble. She thinks twice before saying anything. I’ve learnt that from her.
Having been in a relationship for seven years.. marriage is the next step. Bipasha says she’ll get married when she’s 32.
Fair enough, that’s ideal. As a man, I must respect my woman, that’s very important in a relationship.