There have been reports about John Abraham’s unwillingness to sign or promote films in which he may be required to share the spotlight with other actors (he reportedly refused five multi-cast projects recently, including one with Shah Rukh Khan).
This comes at a time when he evidently enjoys a certain currency in the fraternity as an actor and producer. While a section of the industry dubs it as ‘John’s arrogance’, we asked him if he has been at the receiving end of any such criticism. “Most people have been supportive, encouraging,” he says calmly, adding, “Except a few who may have been dishonest.”
Last week, when Race 2 — in which he co-stars with Saif Ali Khan — released, John tells us why we may not see him play second fiddle in any project any time soon. “Let me put it this way,” he articulates. “I am only interested in author-backed roles. Something like a Manya Surve in Shootout at Wadala or I, Me Aur Main, or Madras Café,” he says.
“There are way too many proposals in our industry, and too few actual scripts that translate into films. I am not interested in being a part of a mere proposal.” But we nudge him gently — remind him that he has not always been known for his acting chops and ask him if this is why he is anxious and hungry to grab meaty roles. “The hunger to prove myself has always been there,” he says. “In Kabul Express or No Smoking, I tried out content-driven films.
That I am now in a position to command is largely due to the fact that I have managed to marry commerce and content as an actor and as a producer.” Explaining how the formula may have worked for him, John says, “Had I not been able to prove my mettle as a commercial star, no one would have backed my film on sperm donation.
Now we are doing something as ambitious as Madras Café and as special as I, Me aur Main. It just goes to prove that there are more people who are willing to back my vision.” Speaking about Madras Café, earlier titled Jaffna, which is a political thriller, John rubbishes reports that the script may have undergone changes because of the many times he changed his mind.
“That is not true. The script had been locked a long time back. And we are happy to have Nargis Fakhri on board as a foreign journalist,” he says, referring to the last change in the casting, in which Nargis replaced Sheetal Mallar, who was supposed to make her acting debut in the film.
He is also excited about I, Me aur Main, in which he plays a man in love with two women. “This is my tribute to women — mothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends and even the other woman,” he says, adding, “It is my ode to them.”