I make films where everybody in the distribution chain should make money.

globalmovie     24 May,2018         No Comment

John Abraham: Quitting Gym For Parmanu Was A Big Task

John Abraham speaks of recuperating after the legal battle and hurdles, his film, Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran has gone through

Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran, with a twinkle in his eyes, the producer-actor assures that the film is very crisp, won’t take more than two hours of the audience. Incidentally, we sat at the same place, where director Abhishek Sharma narrated to him the story of Pokhran. the actor says that he is excited, proud and relieved that the film is being released.”

You have completed 15 years in the industry. Are you satisfied with the way your career has shaped up?
It has been a sinusoidal wave, so there have been crests and there have been ups. Overall, it’s been a great journey, a fantastic one.

And after 15 years, you are here as an actor and a producer.
I didn’t get to see or do the films that I really wanted to. So, it was important for me to produce and make the non-formula films that are still very commercial, like Vicky Donor, Madras Café, like a Parmanu now. It’s not about how much money the film earns. The fact is that Beautiful-Actor-John-Abraham-Wallpapers

When you began with your Bollywood career from Jism, were you apprehensive then about how far would you survive in this industry?
No. I was too new to think about it. After Jism, I remember, some numerologist said that John’s numbers add up to so much, and his career will be over after Jism. And today, I don’t believe in numerology. I believe that the only reason why I’ve come so far and become a producer is that of self-conviction. I have told myself that I am worth it and I can do it. There’s a certain commercial gut I have on films and I make the kind of films I really want to make. Who would’ve thought that I would make a film on nuclear testing? But, I go by my gut and I tell myself that the subject is very difficult to do. And then I say that at JA Entertainment (John Abraham’s production house) these ideas, we need to pull it off, and that’s where we come in. I think it’s my gut that really takes me where I want to go.

And now you are a well-established actor and a producer. How did the entire idea of making this film germinate?
Abhishek Sharma (film’s director) narrated a ten-pager to me, and gave me the idea in 20 minutes. I said, ‘Wow, this is crazy’. Even he said that nobody has made it in 20 years out there. I was shocked and I said, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’ Luckily, for me, my development head, Sanyukta Chawla, who is also a co-writer of Neerja, she and her partner Saiwyn Quadras, they came in and wrote Parmanu. We developed the film in-house for five months, and we went on the floors in June 2017, and in record, 11 months, we are releasing the film.

How did you go about for the research of this film because this mission was kept under secrecy?
In fact, our research also was kept as a secret. When we went on floor, even then, very few people knew that we went on floors. The research was very exhaustive. We met people who told us for the sake of confidentiality. They said, ‘You can ask, we’ll tell you, but you cannot take our names.’ So, we understood it’s a matter of national security and we respect it. We got all the information out and Parmanu is based on a true story but we had to fictionalise and change the names of the people. We couldn’t use APJ Abdul Kalam’s, Rajagopala Chidambaram or Dr. Anil Kakodkar’s names (these are the people who formulated the plan of nuclear testing). So, there were certain names that we had to turn around. 90 percent of our film’s plot is accurate. The only fictional character in the film is mine, and that’s exactly like what happened in Madras Café, because you need to tell the story from a third person’s point of view, and here, I am that person. Otherwise, the story is absolutely factual, only the names have been changed.

Since your character is a fictional one, what was the base for your character’s research and preparation?
I had to go through a lot of research. The character’s name is Ashwat Raina and he’s a junior bureaucrat in the Prime Minister’s Office. So, for that Abhishek said, ‘Even a blind man knows when John Abraham walks. Your physicality is very over-powering. So, you need to deconstruct yourself. You need to stop going to something called a ‘gym’ and eat regular food like a normal human being and live normally’, which for me, was a big task in itself. Then, we went into the backstory of the character. ‘What did Ashwat’s parents and grandparents do’, not that we have used it in the film but Abhishek is a NSD (National School of Drama) graduate. So, he thinks differently. He put me through the entire process, and when I kept going through it, and when I saw the film, I realised it was very useful. The extent of workshops that I have gone through for Parmanu has been intense but it’s all being worth it.

The trailer undoubtedly is fabulous and has received rave reviews. It shows the hard work, research and passion it has been made with. So, what kind of responses are you’ll receiving?
The reviews have been tremendous. I didn’t expect it to be so overwhelming and good. I guess it’s also because there are hosts of trailers that are being released; they are purely commercial, where you feel they are taking the audience for granted. Suddenly, when you see something sensible, you kind of lap it up. So, there’s a strange sense of respect that has come with this trailer. I can only assure you that in the first twenty-five minutes of the film, we set up the entire film. It has got its own pace, but the minute we enter the second half, I don’t think you’ll have time to look at your phone, because it’s a phenomenally edge-of-the-seat thriller. It’s not an overtly-patriotic jingoistic film, it’s a film that is meant to entertain you, whether you care about the Pokhran test or no, is immaterial. It’s there to entertain you, but when you walk out, you feel proud to be an Indian. I’m saying this because my entire team believes that the film is better than the trailer.

Isn’t all this worth it, especially, after all the hurdle and obstacles the film has gone through?
Absolutely! For us, the fact that the film is releasing is relief enough. You are usually nervous about how it’s going to be lapped up, but we don’t care about it. We are just happy that the film is releasing. Honestly, it’s the collateral damages that we had no time to market this film, and that’s a huge damage, but, it’s fine. The trade knows, the people know that we have gone through a lot. And, I have fought for this film because I believe this is a story that needs to reach out to the audience. In fact, someone who saw the film said that not only is the film entertaining but they should be in the curriculum of every school and college. Everybody should know what you’ve put out there.

The biggest challenge while making the film was?
There is so much of technical information – fusion bombs, fission bomb, BARC (Bhabha Atomic Research Center), DARDO (Infantry fighting vehicle), the agencies – IB (Intelligence Bureau). The challenge was that how do you collect all that, how do you simplify it, so that you can tell a common man about what happened. That was the tough part. So, we have simplified the film a lot. I learnt from Madras Café, the film was still dense and it was too intelligent and niche. I wanted to simplify this film, so that it reaches the lowest common denominator. Maybe, a Madras Café audience will feel that the film is too simple but a general commercial audience will say, ‘Samajh liya humlog ne’ (We understood this) and that is my intent as a producer, to reach my masses.

Are you enjoying being a producer?
Yes, totally because I feel empowered. I feel my gut is very strong, and I go by my gut when I choose my films. I feel I can make a difference to films in this country, if given the opportunity to do so. In the three years that I have been in existence, now maybe I’ll be more. I have developed so many scripts that I am so rich in terms of a bank of scripts. With JA Entertainment I want you to be assured that something new is going to come out. And you’ll be like, ‘This guy is never going to think formula. He’s going to think out of the box.’ And that’s what I want to do.

Along with it, we’ll also get to see you on screens?
Yeah. Next is Satyameva Jayate, which is not my production but it’s releasing on August 15, 2018, and that’s for the Shootout at Wadala or the Force audience that really wants to see me in full jolly there. Then I have RAW (Romeo Akbar Walter), which is being directed by Robby Grewal. I have never seen a director more prepped than him. Then I have Batla House with Nikhil Advani, which is such an intense, fantastic and explosive film. So, each one has got a certain flavour, and then I’ll also be doing an action franchise.

What about the romance genre?
I want to do it. Two things that I really want to do is – romance and the other is comedy. If I do a romantic comedy, I’ll be very happy.

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