The response to New York has been overwhelming and I must say, in all humility, that it feels great to be accepted so completely. One of the best reactions to the movie came from a British lady named Venetia. She posted a review on the Yashraj website that spoke at length about my character in the film and his evolution. Towards the end of her article, she said ‘If anyone still has questions about John’s acting ability, they should shut up and go watch New York.’
As an actor I have this strange quirk of wanting the audience to engage with my films in a way that makes them want to discuss the film and the issues the film evoked. In many ways the unprecedented success of New York goes on to prove something I have always believed — that our audience has evolved and if we give them good cinema they will accept it with open arms. Over the years I believe I’ve built a repertoire of such cinema — qualitative rather than quantitative. Kabul Express, No Smoking, Water, New York… they are all films that bring forth discussion. And a large part of New York’s appeal is that it connects with a debate that every section of society, and specially minority communities, are engaged in today. Both characters — Irrfan Khan’s and mine — represent two sides of a debate and encourage people to take the argument further.
I can sense that there’s a strange sense of surprise in the industry that the movie worked so well. While people are congratulating us, they also seem taken aback — and it feels awesome.
I was in a script workshop just before I began writing this, and I asked myself why I was in one at all. The truth is that for any role homework is mandatory and an honest performer never takes himself or his audience for granted. Which is why it’s always important to keep learning and keep growing.
A reviewer even wrote ‘John can now hang his [Dostana] trunks because John Abraham the actor has arrived’. Though I feel some of best movies were never given a fair chance, New York has the raised the bar for me. But right now I feel zero pressure. In fact, I’m having the last laugh.