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John Abraham: My wife Priya watches all my films, and Dostana is her favourite

Bollywood actor-producer John Abraham, who has scored a hit with Parmanu, talks about his professional and personal choices — how his default setting is to go for subjects that are unconventional and why he keeps his family life guarded.

bollywood Updated: Jun 30, 2018 18:03 IST
Rishabh Suri
Rishabh Suri
Hindustan Times
John Abraham,Bollywood,Parmanu
John Abraham says that he can’t do a formula film, and if something looks difficult, he’d definitely go for it. (Photo: Dabboo Ratnani )

Most actors claim that they’d like to experiment and that they’re undaunted by failure. John Abraham doesn’t just say it, but has proved it through his film choices, both as an actor and a producer. Sitting in the happy glow of Parmanu’s success, John talks about his favourite genre, the belief that keeps him going, and why he’s so guarded about his private life.

You’ve had a track record of taking up unconventional subjects. How do you approach a new film?

I cannot make formula films. What I do is when I choose a subject, I say ‘Hey, it’s difficult, how am I going to pull it off?’ Then I smile and decide ‘Then I’m going to do it!’ (laughs) — because it’s very clear that if it’s difficult and practically impossible to pull off, then I’ll do it, because I like non-formula. I have no fear of failure. At the most, what... I’ll fail, right? But people will say, ‘He attempted what normally people won’t attempt.’ I will keep doing that, till the industry permits me.

As a filmmaker, you choose non-masala subjects, but as an actor you continue to do masala films...

My favourite genre is comedy; I love it! I am not equipped as a producer to do probably a big comedy like Welcome Back (2015) or Housefull 2 (2012). A journalist pointed out to me recently, ‘John, you’ve done everything, from a Garam Masala (2005) to a Madras Café (2013) to a Water (2005) to a Kabul Express (2006), to a Welcome Back. But people probably realise a lot later about the diversity of your filmography.’ I think it’s important to do all kinds of cinema.

What makes you remain so guarded about your private life?

I’m not a firm believer in the way things are being done right now. Is it important for you as an actor to put everything out in the public domain? Then you get affected by what people say. It’s a matter of personal choice. I don’t conform to it.

Does your wife Priya watch your films? Any favourites?

Yes, totally. Dostana (2008) is her favourite.

Parmanu is a hit, but how do you deal with failure?

I’m so nuanced now, that when I do the first shot of my film, I go to my producer, and say ‘This film is not working. Do you still want to go ahead, because I’m contractually signed with you?’ They say ‘Yes, it will work.’ But in my head, I know what’s working and not working, and I just go back and shoot, knowing it’s going to fail. Sometimes, I feel there are certain films that don’t come at the right time.

From your filmography, which remains your favourite?

My favourite film is No Smoking (2007). But who saw it outside of my director and me? No one did. Very few people saw it, but due to the passion among cinema audiences, it got a cult following. But does it affect me? No. (Producer) Aditya Chopra once said, ‘John, your most intelligent choices have been the ones that were different, whether they worked or failed. You keep doing that, while everybody else does the same commercial thing, and they will burn out. You always experiment, that will always work in your favour.’ I will do that not by design, but by default.

What’s next after Satyamev Jayate?

I have Romeo Akbar Walter (RAW), then Batla House. As for my next production, I’ll announce it soon, and we’ll start work on it by March 2019. I’ll attempt probably the most beautiful human story. I also want to start my own action franchise; I’d like to do a different take on action for our Indian audiences.

Interact with the author on Twitter/ @RishabhSuri02

First Published: Jun 30, 2018 18:03 IST