I decided I didn’t like him. He was too tall.. six feet one-and-a-half inches to my barely five feet two inches. He was too much of a hunk.. they didn’t make Greek gods on Indian shores, did they? And too charming.. all my colleagues who’d met him had fallen under his dimpled spell. Not me, I was going to stay away.
I did. For four years.. through Jism, Dhoom, Water, Zinda, Taxi No. 9211 and Baabul. I finally saw him from up close at a press conference of Kabul Express.
But before I could corner him, he was whisked away for the TV cameras. Eye candy, I told myself, as I marched towards Hanif Humghum, his Afghani guide in the film.
The following year I switched jobs. And one of the first assignments I landed was an interview with John Abraham. Close to noon, I landed up at a suburban nightclub to be told that John was running late. “He should be here in a few minutes,” I was assured by the publicist and ushered into a room already crowded with other journalists.
Look back in anger
The minutes ticked away. It was almost two hours before John finally stepped in with an apologetic smile. Since the carefully planned PR schedule had gone haywire, it was agreed that he would take general questions first and then give each journalist five minutes for more specific queries.
As we gathered around him, John scanned each face. Mine wasn’t recognisable since we had never met. His smile remained in place till I mentioned the publication I was representing. Then, to my surprise, he turned hostile. Digs about yellow journalism were pointedly directed at me. I squirmed uncomfortably wondering at his attitude.
Change in manner
I had to wait a good half hour for my allotted five minutes of which two flashed by as John ranted about the ‘fictitious’ stuff we’d been writing about him.
Having joined less than a month ago, I was completely clueless about what he was talking and said as much. I guess my confusion was reflected on my face because after a while his anger dissipated and he answered my questions politely.
The one about Bipasha’s quote in a recent interview that she would marry only after four years when she was 30, even got me a smile. “Whom is Bipasha marrying? Couldn’t be me.. I don’t plan to settle down for another 10 years,” he joked.
I hung around outside for a few minutes after wrapping up the interview, waiting for a friend to join me. And bumped into John again, as he stepped out for a photo session. This time he greeted me with a smile rather than a scowl and I knew that all was forgiven, if not forgotten.
Later that year I went back for a second interview. Inviting me to Karan Johar’s office, he asked, “Do you know the place?” I assured him that I did. “Okay, but if you still get lost you can sing one of the Dostana songs,” he laughed.
John had stepped into Tarun Mansukhani’s directorial debut after Saif Ali Khan had bowed out, uncomfortable with the gay undertones. John however didn’t find the homosexual references derogatory or perverse. “The script is really funny.. the audience will enjoy it,” he had assured me the last time.
In sunshine yellow shorts, which he pulled down to show off his well-toned butt, Dostana had made John the ‘Sexiest Man in Asia’ and the seventh ‘Sexiest Man in the World’ even before its release.
Towering over me, in a pair of well-washed jeans, John assured me during our second interview that Abhishek Bachchan and he would win the Best Romantic Jodi Award for sure. They did at a recent award. Today I like John..
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