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John Abraham on a roll

Taxi No 9 2 11's success is just another feather in John's cap. Film review

india Updated: Feb 27, 2006 11:55 IST

"Gentle and romantic, also red hot and smashing. You're not just hot, you're on fire," is how John Abraham was described at a chat show. And the description could not be more apt.

From a model who was advised by director Karan Johar to steer clear of films after winning the Gladrags Manhunt contest in 1999 to now being Bollywood's hottest sensation, John's phoenix-like rise is nothing short of a miracle.

And given that he has made it in an industry as close knit as Bollywood, the feat is even more commendable.

John's latest film - Taxi No. 9211 - comes at a time when even the best of stars are weary of featuring in solo-hero projects. The highly promoted film is riding solely on the able shoulders his 6.1 feet well-sculpted physique, as far as attracting crowds is concerned.

The Milan Luthria film itself benefits hugely from Nana Patekar who has, as always, delivered a remarkable performance. John and Nana are cast in diametrically opposite roles that seem to be custom-made. The music by Vishal-Shekhar, who worked magic in Bluffmaster, is like icing on the cake.

John's latest film - Taxi No. 9211 - comes at a time when even the best of stars are weary of featuring in solo-hero projects.

While commercial success came to

Parsi

(as Bipasha Basu likes to call him because of his Malayali-Parsi parentage) following

Dhoom

, and phrases like sex symbol and Bollywood's man-of-the-moment have stuck, critical acclaim has not lagged behind. His subtle performance in Deepa Mehta's

Water

fetched him standing ovation at international film festivals.

The vast range of his repertoire is also impressive. While debut Jism was a skin flick; Kaal was a super-natural thriller; Dhoom an action flick;

Viruddh a family drama; Water an off-beat film; and Garam Masala a comedy.

Lucrative endorsements are swamping him with brands realising his broad-based appeal.

John, who used to joke that he entered films "to get back ad campaigns I lost to film stars", is the brand ambassador of Diet Pepsi, FastTrack, Samsung, Wrangler and Yamaha.

Even when he was struggling, he was bold enough to say no to Karan Johar when he was offered the role of Kareena Kapoor's boyfriend in the 2001 smash hit, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.

His very public romance with sexy siren Bipasha, his passion for bikes and compassion for animals have all added to the creation of an all-percolating urban superstar.

A trade watcher remarks: "The importance of being John Abraham comes not from his success in the glam world, but from his very real impact on urban sexuality.

"John, inadvertently perhaps, has taken on the mantle of being the representative of the sock-it-in-your-face variety of expressive sexuality that is reaching full-bloom everywhere."

"He is a symbol of the basic shift in attitudes to sexuality and the breaking down of gender divides in open expressive sexuality," says Ratna Golaknath, a behavioural expert and therapist.