Joined: 02 February 2006
"In Canada 'Water' has catered to an all-white audience. And they were completely taken aback. If I have to reach to a global audience I'd rather do it through a film on an Indian theme like 'Water'," said John.
"Water" depicts the plight of widows in the 1930s' India. John plays an idealistic young man who falls in love with a widow played by Lisa Ray.
The film won the Best Film award in at the Bangkok International Film Festival last month. It has also proved a smash hit in Canada, having opened five film festivals and grossed almost two million dollars at the Canadian box office since November.
John is a big fan of Amitabh Bachchan and feels indebted to him because when most of the established actresses refused to work with him, Big B came to his rescue.
"At a time when big heroines refused to work with me Mr. Amitabh Bachchan worked with me in 'Aetbaar'. Mr. Bachchan and Bipasha (Basu) have been very supportive. I am very close to Abhishek and the entire Bachchan family. I wouldn't want anyone to say anything negative about them," John told us.
Your performance in Deepa Mehta's "Water" has been widely appreciated?
Not too many people in India have seen it. And I didn't tom-tom it. It's such beautiful film. In Canada "Water" has catered to an all-white audience. And they were completely taken aback. We have never had reactions like that before. For them the whole concept of the film was alien. It's one thing for audiences here to call out 'John Abraham'. It was quite another when they did it there. If I have to reach to a global audience I'd rather do it through a film on an Indian theme like "Water".
Has it opened doors for you abroad?
I have had offers. But I don't want to proclaim like other actors out here that I am doing a Hollywood project. Here they don't seem to know the difference between Hollywood and any other international project. I wouldn't like to make a fool of myself by making such proclamations. There's no offer that I'd like to talk about. I am considering some. But I am doing none till next year.
But you're doing Deepa Mehta's "Komagata Maru"?
Yeah... but we still need to finalise dates. Honestly, for the other role she needs Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. Only he can do justice to it. He's a rock star. Mine is more a Bhagat Singh kind of a role.
What new films have you signed?
I am choosing very, very carefully. I need to work with filmmakers who'd get the best out of me. I still need that one huge film in my career. I am doing a Yash Raj film in 2006. My new film "Taxi No. 9211" is out. I recently saw an uncut version without background music. The movie took me completely by surprise. It is really entertaining. It's a fun movie and I have a light role.
How's life been lately?
2005 was good but hectic. I feel I got far more appreciation from the audience than the success of my films would suggest. I am relatively successful. I am not being humble. I am just being honest. I want to be more successful.
It's been a gruelling time for me. I shot in Afghanistan. Then I came back and was in hospital for a really long time. I've been asked to be very careful for the next three to four months. A relapse of typhoid is like... deadly! The docs (doctors) told me it's my call now. I am not supposed to overwork.
I was shooting in Afghanistan. It's a country in transition. Twenty-six years of war has ruined it. But within their means they were outstandingly hospitable.
So hospitable they put you in hospital?
I feel so good being back to work. I have heard mixed reports about "Zinda". We knew this film would have a limited audience. But that audience loves "Zinda". The messages I am getting about my performance are very encouraging. It makes me feel I've improved since my last film.
But "Zinda" was Sanjay Dutt's film through and through!
It was. But I feel my role was very powerful. It required very little of my time. But I am omnipresent. I remember Sanjay Gupta had come to me with his next film. But he wanted me to hear "Zinda". It was obvious that Sanjay Dutt was doing the older man. I was immediately interested in the other role. Sanjay Gupta wanted someone who could match the other actor's physicality... I am happy with the footage I have in "Zinda".
So footage isn't an issue?
Was there a security threat in Afghanistan?
If I needed publicity I could put out my 'Diaries From Kabul' and it'd become a bestseller. Or maybe we could make a film on what happened there. But everything was well taken care of by the Afghan government and Yash Raj Films. It was my choice to shoot a film that had to be shot in Afghanistan.
How has your career been so far?
The industry has been very patient with me. At a time when big heroines refused to work with me Mr. Amitabh Bachchan worked with me in "Aetbaar". Mr. Bachchan and Bipasha (Basu) have been very supportive. I am very close to Abhishek and the entire Bachchan family. I wouldn't want anyone to say anything negative about them. In their unspoken way they have been very supportive... Abhishek is the co-star I am most comfortable with. You can't take away from that boy's success. He has worked hard for it.
Any new endorsements?
Yes, I have signed on as UN ambassador for drugs and crime. And I am the sole ambassador for diet Pepsi in India... Good fun. I'll endorse only a product that matches my image, physically and psychologically. I won't do alcohol. In real life I don't even touch wine. It's not a morality issue. I just don't like the smell of alcohol.
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