‘I like on-the-edge films’
John Abraham: Delighted with Kabul Express
MANY MODELS have become top-notch heroines, their male
counterparts haven’t been so lucky. Be it Arjun Rampal, Deepak
Malhotra or Dino Morea, none of then have been able to make it
to the top five slot. The only exception, perhaps, is John
Abraham. Not only was he a rage when he was into modelling, he
also continues to be one of the hottest properties in the Indian
film industry today.
caught up with the handsome hero to find out more about
the man, the actor and his latest film Kabul Express.
making news lately, what with a controversial film, swimwear
calendar and a clothesline by your name.
To say the
least, it feels great. I am absolutely delighted to reach this
point of my career. Apart from doing movies, I feel it is
through these alternate channels (calendars, clothesline) that I
can interact with my fans and relate to them. Plus Subi (Samuel
- the photographer for the calendar) is a dear friend of mine
and there’s no way I could have said no to him. We both have
Mallu background and call each other Mallu! I am really happy
that my hard work of all these years is finally paying off.
Tell us something
about Kabul Express. It is a different kind of film but
did not fare well at the box office.
It is a
fantastic film — that is all I can say. And it has been
accepted very well in the global market. Let me share with you
an instance that happened when we went to promote the film in
North America. Before the movie released in Toronto, there was a
bit of controversy and apprehension about trivialising an issue
like 9/11. We had two screenings — one for the North American
audience and the other for the Asian audience, predominantly
Pakistanis, Afghani and Indians. Believe it or not, there was a
standing ovation after both the screenings.
I am very proud
to be associated with a film like this. In fact, this is the
only movie to be completely shot in Afghanistan after the
How did Kabul
Kabir Khan (the
director of the film) approached me and asked me to read the
script of a new film he was planning. I had earlier heard of
Kabir as an award-winning documentary filmmaker so I told him I
will get back after reading the script.
speaking, the moment Kabir told me that this would require
shooting in Kabul, I had decided in the affirmative. I thought
this was a golden opportunity for me to visit and shoot in a
location that till now I had seen only in CNN and BBC.
Is it true that
you received death threats while shooting for the movie?
Yes, there were
some radio interceptions by RAW after which I was advised by the
authorities not to go out for the shoot. I spoke to Aditya
Chopra (the producer) and they stopped shooting for three days.
The production team and Kabir did a fantastic job after that.
They spoke to the Indian Embassy and when we went out to shoot,
there were more security personnel than unit members of the
authorities also helped us a lot in ensuring our security. But
there was always a worry of bombing or a bullet flying over our
heads. After I returned to India, it was like coming back to the
Garden of Eden.
You also fell
ill during the shooting
Yes. I was
running fever (102 degree centigrade) continuously and with that
I had to shoot in minus 15 degree centigrade. The most pleasant
weather we got in Kabul was 4 degree centigrade! Unfortunately,
I was diagnosed with asthmatic bronchitis and was allergic to
the fine dust particles there. By the time I got out of there
and came to India, I had to be hospitalised. It turned out, I
had typhoid too. But thankfully, I became fit in some time. Now
when I see Kabul Express, I feel it was worth all the
You seem to
have this uncanny knack of working with first-time directors.
I follow my gut
feel while selecting a film. If I like the script, I say yes. I
like doing films that are on the edge and are kind of crazy and
enjoy the process. And most first-time directors like to do
films on crazy topics, guess that is why most of my films are
with debutant directors.
How was working
with Arshad Warsi?
Arshad is a brilliant person
and a fantastic actor. Arshad is the most underrated actor in
our country today. Till now, we have mostly seen his fantastic
comic timing, but he is a very complete actor. I don’t have
any qualms in admitting that that I have learnt a lot from
Arshad Warsi while working for Kabul Express. He helped
me a lot with a number of my scenes. Working with Arshad is