We want people to have a laugh with Pagalpanti: John Abraham
City Times caught up with Pagalpanti star John Abraham ahead of it's UAE release this weekend
Of late, there's been a surge in demand for comedies in Bollywood. Following on from Akshay Kumar's Diwali laugh riot Housefull 4 that featured an ensemble cast, comes another madcap comedy that brings together a stellar line up of actors including John Abraham, Anil Kapoor, Ileana D'Cruz, Arshad Warsi, Pulkit Samrat, Kriti Kharbanda, Urvashi Rautela and Saurabh Shukla.
Directed by Anees Bazmee, who has made hit comedies like No Entry, Welcome and Singh is Kinng, Pagalpanti promises to provide wholesome fun for the family. It is devoid of the usual trappings of Bollywood comedies like double meaning dialogues, over-the-top adult content or vulgarity. "You could safely watch Pagalpanti with your parents, grandparents, children or grandchildren. You're sure to go home happy after watching the film," John Abraham told City Times ahead of the movie's release in the UAE this weekend.
The story revolves around a man who is going through a spell of bad luck, and it engulfs everyone around him, creating a hilarious turn of events leading to chaos, destruction and utter craziness. John plays Raj Kishore, a confident man going through a bad phase in life. Ileana D'Cruz plays his love, Sanjana, who is also suffering professionally because of Raj's bad luck. Add to the mix a gang of misfits and what you have is a crazy comedy packed with hilarious misadventures. And if you are planning on going to see the film in the theatre, you should take heed of the warning in the Pagalpanti trailer, 'Don't use your brains (when watching the movie) because these guys have none'. We speak to lead stars John and Ileana to know more about their crazy adventures.
John, what can you tell us about your role in Pagalpanti?
More than my part in the movie, I think people should watch this film because these days, we rarely make movies that cater to a larger section of the audience, content that can be watched by people from the ages of 6-90. In the case of Pagalpanti, you could watch it with your parents, grandparents, children or grandchildren. It's a positive movie with a message about happiness. There's no bloodshed, no double meaning dialogues or adult comedy content in the film, even the villains are so cute. We want people to watch Pagalpanti, have a great laugh and go home happy.
Have you had any Pagalpanti (crazy) moments in your life?
I am sure we've all had crazy moments in our lives. I can't put a finger on one specific incident, but yes, I did have some crazy moments, some of them I can't even mention.
You've been working on serious movies like Parmanu and Batla House, and your last comedy was Welcome Back in 2105, how was it switching back to comedy?
Honestly, it was very difficult. When I started Pagalpanti, I had just finished Batla House and for the first two days (of filming), I didn't know what hit me. It took some time to settle in because I was doing an ensemble film after a long time. Moreover, being the lead actor, I had to ensure that my co-stars felt comfortable. So it took me a few days to adjust and then it was easy going.
Do you require more effort to do comedy or intense roles?
I think comedy is the toughest genre to perform or to direct, though we make it look fun and easy for the audience. A lot of effort and hard work goes into the making of a comedy. Because if the dialogues come right and the lines don't come on time, no one is going to laugh at the jokes, and that's the worst thing that can happen in a comedy. We left it to Anees Bazmee to bring out the best in us. He has so many years of experience (directing comedies) and he is also a gifted writer. Anees has got his heart in the right place and the beauty of his writing is that he makes films for families.
Your first film as a producer was Vicky Donor, and you also took a big chance signing on Ayushmann Khurrana to play the lead, what do you have to say about his phenomenal rise to fame?
I am so proud of Ayushmann. When I see him, I see my own success in him. I'm very happy for him. A lot of people credit Ayushmann for selecting the right kind of scripts. I too believe that it's the kind of scripts he chose that has made him (successful) today. When you want to see a film with diverse content you think of Ayushmann. He is a thorough professional and talented boy and I'm really proud of him. He deserves every bit of success. He doesn't allow fame to get in the way of his work, he just puts his head down and works with dedication. All power to Auyushmann!
Producing movies vis-a-vis acting, what gives you more satisfaction?
I like both. I found it very gratifying producing movies like Vicky Donor, Madras Café and Batla House. I am also very satisfied as an actor because I have been able to push my own boundaries as an artiste. I think both are satisfying in their own place and it's great to do both and create two different worlds.
How did you gel with others on the Pagalpanti set?
Though I gelled well with everyone, there was a certain comfort level that I shared with Anil Kapoor because we have done so much of work together that we were literally on autopilot. I have done two films with Arshad (Warsi) and I was happy to work with him again. He is such a talented actor. Similarly, it was a delight to work with Ileana D'Cruz and the other actors. Since Pagalpanti is based on happiness and positivity there was no negativity on the sets and that reflects in the movie as well.
Who is your favourite 'crazy' star in Bollywood?
I think someone who has mastered the art of being crazy undoubtedly is Akshay Kumar. He's an all-rounder. I have worked with him in comedies like Garam Masala, Desi Boy and Housefull 2, and we had fun in those movies. I am very close to him and speak to him often. We are exploring the possibilities of working together in a film again soon.
And which is your all-time favourite Bollywood comedy?
It's the iconic film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron which had a stellar cast including Naseeruddin Shah, Satish Shah, Om Puri, Pankaj Kapur, Satish Kaushik and Neena Gupta. A rare movie.
Audiences' viewing preferences have changed over the years, if you were to do a Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron reboot, do you think it would work?
I am guilty of working in films that have featured remixes. Honestly, I'm tired of them. There are certain classics that can't be remade, and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron is one of them. I can understand if we are reinterpreting a classic from another language because we want a wider audience to see it, that's justifiable. But trying to remake a classic in the same language, I can't ever think of doing something like that, it would need a lot of thought.
You're working on a few web series, is that right?
I am working on two web series, but it is in the developing stage. It's an elephant task to work on the digital platform. All I can say is we have acquired the rights of the two best-selling book, it is an interesting book. I can't reveal the names right now but will surely be able to disclose more about it later.