John Abraham is the RAW star

John Abraham is the RAW star

An understated actor, John Abraham has come into his own through his various outings, writes RAJIV VIJAYAKAR

A still from the movie 'RAW'.
A still from the movie 'RAW'.


He’s evolved remarkably from being a model to a versatile actor. But as a person, John Abraham has always been evolved. His choices in his profession, as well as life, reflect the human being he has always been.

For example, John has always been an ardent India lover. And yet, his foray into patriotic cinema like Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran, Satyameva Jayate, the
just-released RAW (Romeo Akbar Walter) and the forthcoming Batla House have been organic and coincidental: as scripts that appealed to him. Even in his past
innings, a film like New York or his own production Madras Café were stories he loved and wanted to tell as an actor.

On the other hand, he would now like to do a regular love story, but his image has probably gone into another zone. Like most action heroes (Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Suniel Shetty) he also proved adept at comedy in films like Dostana, Housefull 2, Welcome Back and the forthcoming Pagalpanti.

All things real

As he sums up, “RAW and Batla House blew my mind. And I enjoy the comic space of (director) Anees Bazmee sir. The film, for which I am now shooting in London (he has come to India only for the promotions of RAW), is a rollercoaster in which you will be laughing every second. Even while shivering in the cold and with winds blowing at 100 kilometres an hour, we all — Anil Kapoor, Arshad Warsi, Ileana D’Cruz, Kriti Kharbanda, Saurabh Shukla — were laughing in between shots. We would forget the cold, and after the shots, Anil would preen and admire his own work despite the weather!”

With RAW, as with Madras Café and Parmanu earlier, barring his own character, which was fictional, everything was inspired from true stories, or was a narration of facts.

“My director Robbie Grewal is the son of a man who has served in our military intelligence, so a lot of the details and even the lie detectors and decoding machines shown in RAW are authentic, as they actually were in 1971,” he says.

“It is my character who plays Romeo, Akbar and Walter, three names that organically, and not by design, added up to RAW, the name of our secret service. And my character is a mix of those three people who served in those times.” John admits that the audience is gravitating towards real, including patriotic, stories. “It is easier to present real stories rather than concoct something totally fictional, and then there is the attached credibility that it has really happened,” he feels.

“However, I do not follow trends or conform to them,” he maintains. “I operate in my own world and rule my space. I do not compete with anyone. I do not attend parties, or go into camps — those are things I neither know how to do nor understand. I have never gone to directors asking them to cast me. I would rather like my work to do the talking.” And the last, he says, is a major chunk of the reason why he has also succeeded in being a private person who is not into controversies, and whose wife
is never in the public glare. “I do not see why everyone should see what I am doing, eating or whatever I am doing in the toilet!” he grins with a wry smile. “I
can easily get 40 shots doing exercises on Instagram showing my body but I would rather disappear after a film and surface for my next, instead,” he says.

His body, he reveals, however, is what he would flaunt in his initial days. “Very few know that I had done my MBA before I became a model. I knew that
the marketing of any product — which in this case was me — should be based on its USP. And I thought that my physique was my USP! Yes, I was never appreciated for my performances in that phase, though I did get good films like Taxi No. 9 2 11 and New York and a few more.”

But then came a time when he decided to change things. “I decided to do what I really wanted to do,” he smiles. “I turned producer with Vicky Donor, in which I was not even there in the cast. I realised there were stories I wanted to tell, whether it was Madras Café or Parmanu. From then on, there was right casting, and you can see maturity in my performances that was not there before.”


His banner J A Entertainment works towards ensuring quality, he says. “They even vet scripts in which I star but are not my productions,” he says. “But as far as my company is concerned, people know now a J A Entertainment film may not be the best in the world, may not do 100 or 200 crore, but will definitely have something different and fresh in it.” Being politically aware, John has just visited the families of a few victims of the Pulwama attack. Asked about it, he replies, “We all get angry when we read such news. But when you meet them and see their fierce sense of pride and
national spirit, I tell you, your heart bleeds! Their sacrifice is heart-wrenching and
so much at a higher, different level, and here we all are, complaining of relatively
trivial things like the heat, water supply, roads…!” What has he to say about Parmanu (which also ran for 75 days in these times of one- or two-week business) not even being nominated for awards? 

“I did not expect it to be nominated at all, because I do not cultivate awards, dance there, or at weddings!” he replies.

“I have never respected awards, except maybe the National, so they do not even come to me. Frankly, what can I say about someone giving an award for “Best Social Internet Star”? Does that social media person even contribute significantly to cinema? I would say, mostly not. And pan masala companies sponsor such shows and we have to endorse them by posing in front of their hoardings! We all know what goes into these shows, it’s a lifestyle choice for so many, but not for me. As I said, I would rather let my work talk.”