John Abraham speaks to Subhash K Jha on the pleasures of doing action films and why he hates comedy shows.
Does Force 2 have relevance beyond entertainment?
Absolutely, we were really inspired by Captain Saurabh Kalia’s story…the way his body was mutilated by Pakistanis shook us to the core. Force was a film close to my heart. But it was about one man’s personal grief and revenge. In Force 2 we wanted to move ahead.
How did you do that?
The idea came organically. In the first film my character fought for family. Here we wanted to take him beyond our borders. Our soldiers are losing their lives. While we sleep peacefully our soldiers are losing their lives. Our film is dedicated to the soldiers who gave their lives on the border fighting for our safety.
Was that sentiment thrust on you by political pressure?
Not at all. We haven’t thrust the message down people’s throats. We’ve got the message across through an engaging plotline. People are going to walk out with some thoughts in their heads.
Did you miss your friend Nishikant Kamat who directed you in the first Force film?
To be honest they are two different creators, with very different visions. Nishikant is a close friend. We’re constantly discussing ideas for film. Abhinay Deo who directed me in Force 2 is also a man with tremendous ideas.
What makes you so confident about Force 2?
Both my director Abhinay Deo and I believe Force is the largest action-franchise of this country. If Matt Damon has a Bourne series and Vin Diesel has a Fast & Furious, John Abraham has the Force series.
Too many sequels in the market?
And as far as sequels go this one is not Force-fitted, pun intended ha ha. Now we are looking at Force 3. And we are not presuming that Force 2 would be a success.
So a global political awareness would be common to the Force series?
Yes, that’s how my co-producers Vipul Shah, Viacom18 and I feel. And no beating of the chest, no jingoism, no self-congratulation. Just a sincere attempt to look global happenings.
A serious recession has hit the entertainment industry after the demonetization. How will that affect your film?
To be honest we’ve been very practical producers. We’ve worked out the numbers so that we’re financially safe even before the film’s release. That’s one part of it. The other more important part of the film is the audiences’ acceptance. I bow my head and say in all humility to the audience we’ve made a sincere film. Going on comedy shows to say this won’t help our film.
You walked out of Comedy Nights Bachao?
I am a meticulous media marketing planner. But even I’ve to admit that a lot of the media stuff we do to promote a film is wasteful.
You can make an epic film out of the budget set aside for the marketing of big films?
I’ll reserve comments on epic films because they often shut down shop. But yes, the marketing budget can easily fund an entire film. Still I roam around in my chappals on various channels promoting my films.
But you don’t attend awards functions?
Speaking in the capacity of a producer, when studios are attached to a film there are certain commitments that one must fulfil. But I am totally against city tours and television events to promote a film.
So how far will you go to promote a film?
I will never stand around in a mall, throw tee-shirts and blow kisses. Ultimately it’s the product that counts, not how much you sell it.
Would you attend an awards function if you’re promised an award?
With awards functions, it’s a complete no-no for me. But to each his own. Awards functions are live shows where actors get paid to perform. The same actors win all the awards every year. I don’t know how that actor doesn’t get bored. I am one actor who doesn’t get that chance.
To get awards or to get bored?
So tell me why would audiences want to see Force 2?
Because we’ve got some of the best action directors from across the world. We’ve got Franz Spilhaus from South Africa, and we’ve got our own Allan Amin. We’ve got a wide a range of the best stunt choreographers to make my action look convincing. And we’ve got hero who doesn’t believe in promoting a film beyond a point.