John Abraham: I like being on shaky grounds

Updated: Mar 17, 2019, 17:23 IST | Shaheen Parkar

John Abraham is keen on surprising the audience and having them look at him anew with his next, RAW, based on the 1971 Indo-Pak war

John Abraham: I like being on shaky grounds
John Abraham

It's all about making the right choices for John Abraham now. Bolstered by the success of his last outings, Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran and Satyamev Jayate, which released last year, he now wants to surprise the audience.

"OMG, John can do this," is what he would like them to say. His upcoming film, Robbie Grewal's RAW - Romeo Akbar Walter, is one more way of making the audience sit up and notice him. He is currently shooting for Anees Bazmee's Pagalpanti in England. Abraham recently jetted into Mumbai for a day to launch the trailer of RAW. We caught up with him at a Juhu hotel. He's honest and forthright. Bollywood's beefcake wants to prove that there is more to him than just brawn.

A still from the flim
A still from the flim

The recent happenings along the Indo-Pak border has yet again brought to the fore the strained relations between the two countries. RAW is based in the backdrop of the 1971 Indo-Pak war. "The timing is coincidental. We had always planned to release the film on April 5. It is so easy to drop words but that has never been our intent. We would never want to cash in on it."

As an actor, Abraham likes being a part of all types of cinema, but as producer he prefers subjects that are factual. "Fact is stranger than fiction," he says. "This does not mean that I will only stick to subjects about war and patriotism. After RAW, my next outing will be Nikkhil Advani's Batla House [based on the 2008 Delhi encounter against terrorists]. It is the most contentious topic after the Babri Masjid issue. What I like is telling real stories."

RAW was originally announced with Sushant Singh Rajput. Abraham has no qualms replacing him. "I would not mind being the fourth option. I am fortunate that it came to me. I am secure about what to do; you have to make the choice. I am glad these kind of films have been coming to me. I am lapping it up. If you see my slate, each tells a different story."

Abraham plays a RAW officer in the film, which was shot in Kashmir and Gujarat. "Robbie's [the director] father was in the army so his research is all first-hand. I am well informed and politically aware. If you ask me what is happening in Syria, I can tell you the entire history. So when you come from that space, you ask a lot of questions. Robbie had all the answers and I was on board the project.

Gone are the days when Abraham had to face the 'can he act' question. "I always took it with a pinch of salt.As an actor, I had to depend on what was offered to me. But as soon as I turned producer with Vicky Donor [2012] and Madras Cafe [2013], I could choose the content and provide something novel each time."

At the same time he does not mind being part of comic capers like Pagalpanti. "I love doing comedy. I adore Anees Bazmee. This is also a way to for the audience to know that I can do this and that."

Abraham is among those few actors who does not subscribe to the camp culture in Bollywood. "I like being on shaky grounds. If I work with the top names, my failure would be zilch. I want to take risks. I agreed to be part of Milap Zaveri's Satyameva Jayate even though he may have been known for a film like Mastizade [2016]. I went with my conviction. I knew he was making a hardcore Bollywood action masala and it worked. I don't influence the casting. I sit on scripts and give my inputs. It is ultimately the director's call on whom he or she wants in the project."

If Abraham had his way there are two films of his, which he would love to make a sequel to - Rocky Handsome [2016] and No Smoking [2007]. "I am sure their directors themselves would not even want to touch it. But these two are my favourites," says Abraham who also loves to talk about his half-Parsi roots from his mum's side. "That part is alive and kicking and how. I am a pescetarian, so saas ni macchi and patra ni macchi I can devour. I love going to Jimmy Boy in Fort, they specially make it for me."

John Abraham and Priya Runchal
John Abraham and Priya Runchal

'She's a private person'
John Abraham fiercely guards his personal life. He tied the knot with NRI financial analyst, Priya Runchal, in 2014 but is rarely seen with her in public. Being papped is definitely not in his scheme of things. "This is the way I like it. She is a private person. She finished her course from business school in London and was earlier in Los Angeles. She chooses to quietly do her work and I appreciate it. She also handles my football team, North East United FC, which is based in Guwahati. Managing the team is like handling two big productions. We spot talent, nurture them and then a billionaire comes and buys them for his franchise. So, then I lose them, and have to find new talent again. We do the hard work of identifying them only to see them go, but I enjoy the process."

'Allan is low-key too'
The actor's architect-interior designer brother Allan Abraham is helping the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in developing areas around Mount Mary, Bandra. "He too prefers to be low-profiled. It runs in the family. He has designed my office as well as Tiger Shroff's gym and Sunil Shetty's villa resort. If he sees his photo in the papers, he will be devastated and won't come to office for two days. He has outlined a plan for Juhu and Haji Ali. He is hoping authorities that matter give him a hearing."

Also Read: John Abraham: RAW: Romeo Akbar Walter isn't a jingoistic, flag-saluting film

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