The actor speaks up about laughing through his first such role in a fun, non-offensive film
PIC/ RANE ASHISH
Three days to Dostana, John Abraham is chilling at his sea-facing home dressed in a white vest and blue jeans.
The buffed-up actor asks his Man Friday to serve us, "mere wali chai.' It arrives shortly, and it's light and sweet. Just like his upcoming release promises to be. Here, John talks about playing his first gay character, his gay friends and what his girlfriend Bipasha Basu thinks about him cosying up with another man. Read on...
How comfortable are you with your sexuality?
Very. Completely. Totally. I wear my sexuality like I wear my clothes.
So there was no hesitation when you were asked to play a gay character?
Not at all. See, when Tarun offered me the film, I actually fell off my seat laughing. At the end of it, I thought, 'If I am laughing, and enjoying it, then why shouldn't I do a role like this?" And I was very comfortable with the fact that Abhi- shek was opposite me. Because we get along very well and that comes across on the screen.
What if there had been another actor in place of Abhishek?
I would've done the film anyway but had there been any other actor, I don't know whether the chemistry between us would've been that good. Abhishek is probably the only actor in the industry who is taller than me. I am 6'1Â½ and he is 6"2.
Oh, so you have a taller girlfriend!
(Laughs) yes, I have a taller girlfriend in the film. Even though Abhishek insists that I am the girlfriend, and he's the guy in the film.
But you are dressed as a groom and he as the bride in the promos.
It's good thing that people are seeing those promos now! In the initial promos, people saw me pointing to Abhishek and saying, "ye mera boyfriend hai."
If not Abhishek, which actor do you see pulling off this role opposite you?
I think anybody in that age bracket. Abhishek, Hrithik and me are classmates since junior kindergarten, so if I had to think of anybody in this role, it would have to be anyone of them. Hrithik would've looked very pretty. But honestly I think Abhishek comes off best in this part because he's the rough, alpha male.
A rough Alpha Male to play the effeminate part is a odd choice, no?
Trust me, he is right for the part. Because we have played gay, straight. There have been films which have had gay characters in the past but they've shown the characters in a very caricaturish way. Except for one portion in the film, we haven't done that in Dostana. And the credit goes to Tarun because he has made sure that we are making a fun film, which is non-offensive. And we've stuck to that.
How do you think the gay community will react to Dostana?
I think, very positively. Actually they will react like the rest of the audience. And that would be that they'd laugh when they watch the film. Like Venky, my make-up guy, who's gay, was on the sets throughout the shooting and he'd be laughing hard. So if he reacted like that, I don't foresee any problem.
In Dostana, you are a straight guy pretending to be gay, would you play a gay character like Brokeback Mountain?
I'd love to do a role where I can actually play gay. But not because of Brokeback Mountain. There's a Sean Penn film called Milk. It's based on a true story, and Sean Penn plays a gay activist. I would love to play a role like that for a cause.
How about taking up Section 377 for a cause? it says it's crime to be gay.
I don't think it's a crime to be gay. I think it is ridiculous to even say that. We call ourselves citizens and not inhabitants, and we can choose what we want. And it's completely fair that we chose whoever we want for our partners, irrespective of their sex. These laws have been made in ancient times and should be changed.
Playing a gay role, sometimes includes doing an intimate scene with another male actor, would that stop you from accepting the film?
If you ask me, between playing a gay character like Sean Penn or a Brokeback Mountain, I'd choose the former.
Fair enough, I don't see any top B-Town actor who would do a role like that.
I don't have any reservations. I was asked if I'd go nude for a role. And I said, 'definitely.' .
But you draw the line at kissing a guy?
That would be the case with any straight guy. But I would definitely think about it. If the script was awesome, I don't think I would have a problem with it.
Yes. I think she would run away from me. (laughs)
But she was okay with your Dostana role?
She's seen bits of the film and and really enjoyed it. And I was like, 'ok, that's a compliment.' Bipasha is always hundred per cent right on her gut. Whenever she has seen any of my film and said, 'It will work', it has. And when she has said, 'This is not going to work,' it hasn't. Dostana is a fun film, and comedy is working right now, so I am sure it will work.
Five physical attributes every guy should have?
The biggest physical attribute a guy can have, according to me (which I think is metaphysical), is intelligence. Then you need to well-packaged. It's not just about the way you look. Its about the way you dress, speak and the way you conduct yourself. Also, you need to come across as very honest. Your eyes should convey what you say and feel. And finally, a great smile.
What about one's body?
I think that should be a way of life. The fitness industry is a sunrise industry. That has to go with your being. The thought shouldn't be like, 'I have decided to go to the gym today,' it should be like, 'I have decided not to go to the gym today.' It's good to see most actors getting fit.
How hard did you work to bulk up for Dostana?
I did an-hour-and-a-half of intense training everyday. In Miami, I was doing two-and-half hours a day, seven days a week. And all that work for two shots of me getting out of the water.
Any awkward moments during shooting?
(smiles) Only when I had to stay away from Abhishek, because in the entire film, there are only two shots when we are not together. But to be honest, Abhishek made sure that things were not awkward. I give him complete credit to him for letting himself go.
You have gay friends. Are you comfortable being seen in their company?
Totally. I am a very open person. I am very clear. My friends are my friends and it really doesn't matter if they are gay. I think my closest gay friend is Venky, and I am very comfortable in his company. He is with me 24/7. I trust him completely. He's comfortable around me and I think that's special.
What's the raunchiest pass a man has made?
Yesterday it was, "Bite your bum" (laughs) but one that comes to mind instantly pass was when I was in London this time... (hesitates)
C'mon tell, tell!
I am so used to be followed into and out of the loo when I am abroad that it's getting stressful now. The last time a guy followed me into the men's room, he said to me, 'you are beautiful' and I found that very strange because suddenly my body started cringing. I shouldn't be talking about this. It seems narcissistic. It's embarrassing..
Is it a bigger compliment when a guy makes a pass, or a woman?
In terms of compliment, I think it's the same. But obviously, I like the fact that a woman is making a pass at me. I am very clear about that. But I am very embarrassed about compliments. I don't know how to accept it. I get awkward.
Your thoughts on gay marriage?
I know Bush wanted it to be illegal. If you choose to stay with your partner, be it a man or a woman, and if you wish to solemnise that bond, as an individual, I don't have a problem with it.
Finally, what does Bromance mean to you?
Bromance is Dostana to me. It's bonding between two friends. It's what Abhishek and I share. It has nothing sexual to it. Just clean friendship.