It now threatens to become one of the ugliest fall-outs in the Indian entertainment industry, with actor-producer John Abraham trading public insults with producer Prernaa Arora of KriArj Entertainment. The two parties collaborated over the forthcoming true-life political drama Parmanu – The Story Of Pokhran. But the drama being played out between the two in real life threatens to get far more dramatic. And murky.
After issuing public notices against one another, John and Prernaa are now locked in a fierce verbal duel which now got extremely ugly after John accused Prernaa of financial irregularities and defaulting on commitments. He has also referred to her as a “trader” who “came into the business with a lot of money that has now whittled off.”
Reacting sharply to John Abraham’s dig, Prernaa Arora retorts, “For John’s information, we are not traders who came in from the outside. My father is a film producer. We’ve been born and brought up in the film industry. I’ve grown up with the best of actors and filmmakers, watching all the great movies over the decades. Hindi cinema is part of my genes. How many of the Hindi movie classics has John watched? John, with due respects, couldn’t speak a line of Hindi when he came into the film industry. So who is the trader from the outside? And what is wrong with being a trader?”
Angry and insulted Prernaa says she has taken enough insults from John. “I’ve been polite and well-behaved throughout this whole ugly episode with Mr John Abraham. I’ve been brought up to respect everyone. Please ask Mr John when have I ever spoken to him badly? On the other hand he has been extremely rude and discourteous to me on many occasions. I don’t want to play the woman’s card. But I’d like to ask Johnji would he dare to talk to any big-name male producer the way he has spoken to me on so many occasions? On several occasions I’ve been reduced to tears because of his obnoxious behaviour. I hate myself for sounding weak and emotional. This business has no place for soft-hearted people. But I guess being a woman has certain inbuilt vulnerabilities that can be taken advantage of. While John would often be sweet to me on my face I’d hear how he was badmouthing me to all and sundry in the film industry. Sorry, but gentlemen don’t talk like that about women.”
Going back to the beginning of her association with John, Prernaa says, “Initially John was sweet gentle and responsive. We decided to co-produce a film. But we couldn’t find the right script. Then I heard the idea for Parmanu when I was in Jaipur. I sent my friend director Abhishek Sharma to John and before I knew it, the two of them became friends and finalized the film. I was taken aback. I advised John to slow down, let’s meet and discuss before getting into it. But he was excited as he was looking for something exciting to do after Rocky Handsome had bombed. I appreciated his enthusiasm and we agreed to make the film without really pondering on the finer points. Let me tell you, from this point onwards the director Abhishek Sharma who was my friend ceased to interact with me. He was only communicating with John Saab. But that’s okay. I was happy that John and Abhishek were getting along so well. The crux was making a good film.”
About the contentious budget, Prernaa explains, “John Abraham pegged it at Rs. 35 crores which was way too high for a film which had no stars except Johh Abraham, and even that (John’s stardom) is disputable. Anyway, of that Rs. 35 crores we’ve already paid John Rs. 30 crores, Rs. 3 crores will be paid on delivery. It’s just the remaining Rs. 2 crores that we at KriArj have been pleading with Mr Abraham to forgo. But he is not willing to budge. Instead of understanding the economics of this project, he accuses me of not understanding the dynamics and economics of film production. Excuse me; I grew up in an environment of film production. I don’t need anyone to wag fingers at me questioning my capabilities as a producer.”
Prernaa accuses John of misleading her. “Film production was a new excitement for him when we collaborated on Parmanu. He gave me the impression that he had a whole infrastructure and production team in his production house when in fact he had just one person to take care of all the production work. The entire process of production for Parmanu was outsourced. No major studio was willing to come on board for Parmanu. I got Zee to partner with us. But now with all that is happening I wonder if I made the right decision in collaborating with someone so soaked in arrogance that he can’t see he’s destroying the very creation that could restore his career.”