John Abraham talks about his next film – Dishoom, his family connect with the Dhawans, action sequences, Force 2 and much more
The actor talks about his next film, his family connect with the Dhawans, action sequences, Force 2 and much more…
Actors and directors rarely hit it off after just one film. And it’s rarer to see them bond when the director is younger than the actor. But Rohit Dhawan and John Abraham, whose Dishoom is up for release, have just that kind of equation. He feels like a Dhawan by extension (by his own admission) and thinks of Rohit’s brother and his Dishoom co-star as a younger sibling. Here, he talks about the film, his rishta with the Dhawans, his fears, what it means for him to be an action star, his upcoming roles and more…
Did you sign Dishoom because of the past connection with Rohit Dhawan (he directed John in Desi Boyz)?
Rohit and I are really close. We kept in touch after Desi Boyz. He calls and asks for my opinion about the scripts he has and I tell him what I think. So, Rohit and I share a very unselfish relationship. One day he chanced upon a film about a cricketer getting kidnapped and he said he needed two cops and I would be one of them, no questions asked. He asked me who should play the other cop? I told him that he had the other cop in his house – Varun (laughs). Varun and I are so comfortable off-screen, and that’s because of Desi Boyz. I often went to Rohit’s home. David and I share a beautiful equation. I am part of the Dhawan family in more ways than one. We are so close that getting Varun and me to do Dishoom was so natural. From Rohit’s point-of-view, you get two people who are really close to you. I have got two brothers in the house and I will take both.
Tell us more about this equation with Rohit.
I can’t imagine doing a film without Rohit and Rohit shouldn’t imagine doing a film without me (laughs). I am very attached to Rohit. The one person that I am really close to and would want Dishoom to work for is him because he’s a gem of a person, a clean-hearted boy, very hard-working and uncorrupted by what’s happening in the present world of filmdom. Rohit’s been very untouched by all this. He’s very clear. Rohit wants to make commercial cinema, but he has a lot of faith in his script and actors. Even though he’s only two films old, he has developed his own brand of filmmaking, just like his father. After a long time, you are seeing two guys as buddy cops going out there on a mission. He’s put a great cast together.
Any apprehensions while doing the action scenes for Dishoom?
I was more apprehensive about Varun as he hasn’t done this kind of action before like hanging from a helicopter. At the chopper sequence we came nose-diving at 180 km an hour. He didn’t understand what hit him when we came down. He looked at me and screamed because there’s a rush of adrenaline, so my only apprehension was taking care of him. The only time that I didn’t turn up on set (in UAE) because my scenes were not there and the scene involved Varun jumping over a car, he twisted his finger and fainted. I got worried and found out that he was on this crazy diet. I went to his room and fired him. I said ‘Buddy, you do things my way or the highway. You don’t do things like this.’ In dance, there are second chances, but in action scenes, there aren’t any. You’ve got to be attentive, be sure, feed yourself well and get out there.’ From the action point-of-view, that was one apprehension I had. But on a general level, Rohit is a very big-scale director — so the action is very large, expensive and the climax is spectacular. We have done chase sequences on air (chopper), land (cars, run on foot) and water (motorboats).
Do you have any phobias?
Anything we do in action, if I say I am not scared of anything, I would be lying. As a child, I have grown up wanting to jump off buildings. I just want to do action in a big way. The biggest action heroes — Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson, the thing common about all of them — they are big, massive and they don’t do action. It’s not so much about the action they do, but just the attitude that they have. When Bruce Willis says ‘Go ahead and make my day’, Arnold says, “I’ll be back and Dwayne Johnson says ‘This is Rio!, it’s just about attitude. There must be a certain attitude that you must have to become an action hero.
You recognise an action hero when you see his face and when he’s ready for action. I believe I possess that attitude and that’s something that just comes to me naturally. You either have it or you don’t. When I have that attitude, it doesn’t allow me to fear anything. When I stand on top of a building and think Kabeer Shergill has to jump, I can’t feel scared as Kabeer doesn’t feel that. I forget myself and become the character and if I have to jump, I jump. I guess the only fear I have is not fearing anything. My threshold for pain is very high. As an action hero, the minute you are jumping your heart rate climbs and you just use that and let go. That’s why it looks so natural. Action should look natural to an action hero. The minute it looks unnatural, people spot it.
After Dishoom, you have Force 2…
Yes and that’s it. I am working on my productions right now. I have got a team of writers writing internally for me. All I do is create content, because as actors we are hungry for content.
You play a cop in Force 2 and Dishoom. How different is your character in Dishoom from Force 2?
The format of Dishoom is completely different. It’s a differently presented film as is the story. My character Kabeer Shergill, is a loner who operates alone, likes Kishore Kumar, can’t tolerate idiots or nonsense or stupidity. Everything has just gone wrong for Kabeer, so he is on this mission that either damages him or he damages everyone. Force 2 has action too where I have hung down from choppers and jumped out of buildings… I have done that without a body double. Force 2 implies a level of action that’s just unparalleled and its sheer physical abuse on the body. I like that —something in my head loves all this. I am an adrenaline-action junkie.
Why did you refuse Hera Pheri 3?
The best person to ask is Mr Firoz Nadiadwala. If he gives you an answer, please let me know. Honestly, I have no idea about it. The last I heard about the film was when Abhishek said somewhere that he’s not a part of it.
Was your price the issue?
That’s the biggest misconception people have about me today. I get no pride in saying that I charge so much more. I just need to be appreciated and I am very simplicistic in my heart about my profession, not corrupted where money is concerned. A lot of people say that John is a smart businessman. There is nothing wrong in being smart or being a businessman, but does that mean that I charge irrationally? The answer is no I don’t. On the contrary, I don’t speak about money when I talk to other producers for acting in their films. I am an actor at the end of the day so I try and steer clear about speaking about money. It becomes an issue and a speedbreaker while talking about the creatives. I am more interested in the kind of film I am doing, my role and how I can get in there.