Here's looking at John!
MARK MANUEL , TNN 23 July 2009, 12:00am IST
Abraham's career is going to be among the easiest to follow in all of
Henceforth, everything will be 'before
Dostana' or 'after New York'. I cannot remember which film he
made before these two back-to-back hits.
And, when I asked him, John
paused to think like he was resting in between sets of a workout, then replied,
"Goal." This was a forgettable experience in November 2007, yes, the
lovely Bipasha Basu notwithstanding. Then came Dostana a year later.
When Karan Johar was preparing John for homosexuality on the beaches
of Miami, in his majestic way he told the hunk, "I want to remind people
what you look like." And he did. People are still talking about John
rising out of the heaving waters in those tiny yellow trunks. A scene, even
without the dramatic background of KJo's film, that screamed, "This
is John Abraham and what he looks like in his critical self."
Aditya Chopra, on the other hand, was more restrained. At the start
of New York, he warned the actor, "People will stop looking at you, they
will start looking at your performance." He was right.
audience has appreciated John's performance, perhaps for the first time,
and Bollywood now has a strange smile of respect for him that says, "We
have to admit, that was nice."
I picked up the phone to find
out how John was taking this. He's in London, doing a script workshop on
Abbas Tyrewala's film 1800-Love, in which his heroine is the
director's wife Pakhi. The film starts a week later. And it pretty much
ties John up till September. "This is a time for introspection," he
told me. "It's easy to get swayed with two films doing well
But more important is to realise what got me here and
to watch my steps from now on. I feel a sense of completion as an actor. This is
a visual medium, and you have to look right for it; but when you also perform
right, then you have everything on your side. And thereafter it's all
about selecting the correct film."
What he's gone and
done is raised the bar for himself. "From now on it's going to be
difficult to let anyone down... especially myself," said John. But, simple
Bandra boy that he is, he credits God and his audience for his new success.
"It's a give and take relationship," he explained, "the
audience connects with the John Abraham in their lives, I remind them of their
own struggles, and looking at me – they know there's bound to be a
He admits that before Dostana, he was like a horse with
blinkers that just kept its head down and worked. No wonder the industry often
"But there was reason behind the
ridicule," he protested, "constructive criticism always has a
reason. I didn't have to try hard to better myself, but I had to work hard
on my performance." Yet, he believes that people had to see New York to
realise what he had been upto earlier in films like Jism, Aetbaar, Baabul and
Dhoom. "Going back to my films that hadn't worked, it made people
think, I had done it even then – but they hadn't noticed,"
It is true. And he's grateful that New York has
created a new space for him in Bollywood. But he's not into competing with
anyone for a leading position. His fans don't consider him the No. 1, 2 or
3 actor, to them he is just the John Abraham! "We are all
competitors," he agreed, "but I have no sense of competition
outside, my competition is within, I'm trying to better myself in my own
In a way, that's a wise thing to do, because
John Abraham will always have an audience. He has a loyal following. He's
the only actor in Bollywood I know who has young girls telling him, "You
did well in your last film." And old ladies smirking, "You're