Gift me a house in UAE: John Abraham
John Abraham talks to City Times about training himself to look like a lethal killing machine for Rocky Handsome and also why he will never be good enough to attend award shows
Dubai is one of the biggest overseas markets for Bollywood apart from the United Kingdom. John Abraham who was in town on Sunday to promote his upcoming film Rocky Handsome said that they prioritised their Dubai promotion because great returns come out of Dubai box-office. 43-year-old John is producing this film as well. In recent times, he has strengthened his position as a producer by backing up content driven films like Vicky Donor and Madras Café. We caught up with director Nishikant Kamat and John Abraham to know more about what fans can expect from the movie.
John, don't you think it's about time you got a home in the UAE? You were here in February for the entire month to shoot for Dishoom and last year for Welcome Back and Hera Pheri 3.
Someone should gift me a house here! I like the UAE because we get a lot of support from the Film Commission and the infrastructure is great. For us, more specifically, there is no disturbance.
You trained really hard for this film, didn't you?
I went to Thailand and trained for a month in different forms of martial arts. I would train for 14 hours a day. When I would shower, my body would burn because it was full of cuts due to training. My body went black and blue. I used to think, 'why am I doing this?' But when I came back and did some action scenes, my director told me, 'John the way you are doing these stunts, it looks like you have been doing martial arts from childhood.' His validation boosted my morale. I also underwent weight reduction for the role. I wanted to look lean and ripped and wanted every muscle defined. I had to look like a lethal killing machine.
How much is the story important in a hardcore action film like Rocky Handsome?
Nishikant: Right now, this film is coming across as a pure action film but there is a very intense story and heart to it. In fact, it is a very heart wrenching and emotional film at its core. The ornamenting of the film is action; we concentrated a lot on action and tried new things.
John, what appealed to you more, the story or the opportunity to try new action?
Any film that I do is because of the content and the story that we are going to tell. Rocky Handsome is a beautiful story to tell which is why I did it. You can do the greatest action in the world, but if your emotion is not right, you will fail. We knew the emotional content of this film was strong, so we took the pain of making the action scenes of this film even more special.
The crux of your film is taken from the Korean movie The Man from Nowhere. Many of the popular Korean films are very gory, violent, brutal, and graphic. Have you mellowed it down in this film?
Sometimes Korean films are dark and the action is gory but that's exactly what Rocky Handsome is not. The action is very palpable to a female audience and we actually tested it amongst women. The film is very emotional. If you see the emotional quotient of this film, you will immediately say that it is a Nishikant Kamat film. He brings that level of beauty and emotions to the film. I have seen quite a few Korean film but when you see Rocky Handsome you will understand that it's been turned around on its head. It is an Indian film in its heart.
Why is your character called Rocky Handsome?
He is a very strong and silent character. The beauty of the film is how this character breaks down. This little seven-year-old girl breaks him down. She is very fond of this character and calls him 'Handsome'. She tells him, 'You look like a criminal but you look very handsome.' Then something happens in the film and this man has to go and get that girl back. 'Rocky' and 'Handsome' are two separate entities that belong to the same physical being. He is 'Handsome' for this little girl and you realise that he is 'Rocky' as well.
Nishikant, as a producer John has taken big risks in backing up quirky comedy Vicky Donor and political thriller Madras Café, he also loves doing mass entertainers. How would you describe John as a creative member of this industry?
As a producer he is fantastic and as an actor, his range has increased so much that he can pull off a comedy or an action film. His choice of subject for serious cinema is beautiful. I personally find Vicky Donor and Madras Café very important films.
Not everyone would have dared to make those films. He took that responsibility to make those content-driven films. His personality has changed. After a certain age, your face becomes very likable. As a director, I can see that his close-up is very likable because, with age, his face now has got a certain character attached to it.
John, why is Bollywood afraid of going towards the zone where it will have space for action franchises like Hollywood has for Rocky, Rambo, Die Hard, Fast, and Furious etc.?
This is a very good question. I think as actors, we are very scared to get typecast in one kind of role. I think we shouldn't be scared to get typecast in a way because all the top action heroes in Hollywood, they all have the biggest franchises with them.
Bruce Willis has Die Hard, Sylvester Stallone has Rocky and Rambo, Arnold Schwarzenegger has Terminator, Vin Diesel has Fast and the Furious, Dwayne Johnson will have something. I think it is great to have a franchise. Every film that I do, I don't do with the intention of making it franchisable, sometimes it naturally progresses into a franchise and sometimes it doesn't. So we must cross that bridge when we come to it.
John, we don't see you at film parties or awards functions. What kind of people do you connect with?
I connect with people who are simple. I don't think I can go to a film party to connect with people. I don't believe networking is going to get me to places. Everybody is different. Nishikant and I are on autopilot. He doesn't even have to tell me what to do, I just have to look in his eyes and I know if he is happy or not. I get disheartened at times because I don't get great scripts most of the time but thank God for Nishikant.
I don't care about awards also; Nishikant can go and collect the awards for this film. I don't go probably because I am not good enough. So it's fine. I won't. I am great friends with Varun Dhawan and he loves awards shows. He can dance on a table, he is very cute. We all co-exist with our own ideas and I think that is beautiful. Nothing is right or wrong, we just co-exist.
Who are your favourite action heroes?
I would say Sylvester Stallone, Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis, Jason Statham. There is one thing common between them, barring Jason, none of them can do action well. It is just about the attitude.