By FATIMA PATEL

John Abraham started his career as a top model, before getting his big break in 2003 with the film Jism. While his debut didn’t make big money at the box office, John certainly left his mark.

In 2004 Dhoom happened where John stole the show as the main antagonist. Not only was John’s performance applauded, the film also went on to become the highest grossing film for that year.

With a career spanning more than fifteen years in the Hindi film industry that brought both success and failure, John has never been complacent about his work. From acting to producing John is perhaps one of the few B-Town stars who has really experimented with his scripts, not bothering too much about the box office mullah and working on his own terms.

Our Editor caught up with John while he was filming in Leeds, Yorkshire for Pagalpanti, to discuss his latest release film ‘Romeo, Akbar, Walter (RAW).  

RAW explores the story of an undercover Indian Agent who is deployed on a mission to serve his nation, and in that process he has to leave his family behind to do certain things which put his own life in jeopardy.

The film also stars Mouni Roy, Jackie Shroff and is directed by Robbie Grewal. ‘RAW’ is set against the backdrop of the 1971 India-Pakistan war, coming at a time when tensions are high between the two countries following the recent Pulwama attack that resulted in the death of Indian army personnel.

John spoke candidly about being typecast as an action hero, his love for Leeds and about his most favourite genre – comedy.

Over to John and Fatima.

Fatima Patel: How are you, John, I hope you are enjoying the British weather?

John Abraham: It is really lovely up here in Leeds, we have fallen in love with this place and it’s absolutely fantastic we are shooting Pagalpanti here.

Let’s talk about your upcoming film RAW. RAW seems to have come at quite a topical time, with the recent tensions between India and Pakistan. What are your views on the relevancy of the film releasing considering the current situation?

John as Romeo in RAW

Well, it’s very simple for me, first of all RAW in full form is Romeo, Akbar, Walter it’s a human story and of one man who goes across the border, so I say this very categorically that it’s not a film about jingoism, it’s not a film that’s going to bash any country or religion. It’s a film that is based on emotion and is a true story. When you put a true story out there, it’s important to get your facts straight. We’ve done the maximum amount of research before going out there and making it. I think it’s a very honest film – a clean film and I think audiences from any country would really enjoy this film, because it’s just an emotional film.

RAW sees you in several different looks, so it must have been quite a task for you to do so many different looks and so many different mannerisms, especially considering you shot it in a space of 46 days. You make it look effortless from your performance in the trailer. How did you manage moving from one character to another in a short frame of time?

I think the toughest part was getting the Kashmiri accent right. I think we worked on each and every character by understanding where Romeo comes from, where Akbar came from, what Walter goes through. Each accent was different, each mannerism was different, each back story was different. So, getting into the skin of the character I think credit to the team. This was my toughest role till date, which I enjoyed playing thoroughly. We really researched for a role and the outcome is really special and amazing.

To do so in 46 days was very tasking and very tough, but I think I am that point in my career where I think I have graduated as an actor and so I was happy to take on the challenges especially as we had a limited time frame because we made the film with a very tight budget and to add to that the challenge to deliver something that’s credible.

So, for me RAW is a really really special film.

You seem to have done a lot of action films lately, such as Parmanu, Satyamev Jayate and Batla House coming up, all action genres. Are you not worried about being typecast as an action hero?

No not really, because I’m a big fan of Anees Bazmi and I am doing a comedy right now called Pagalpanti, in your home town.  I enjoy all kinds of films, but if you ask me which one is my favourite genre – it’s comedy, because I think to make someone laugh is the hardest thing to do. I can sleep walk through action. For me action is the easiest thing for me to do. The most difficult thing for an actor is to make the audience laugh. I think Pagalpanti does that and I am enjoying every minute of shooting this film.

RAW has some amazing songs, which one is your most favourite?

There is a song called Maa, as in mother. It’s my favourite song in the album. I can promise you, anybody who watches the film will love it. It’s a complete tearjerker, it’s a beautiful emotional song and it’s a relationship between this guy and his mother. It’s based on him going, and she asks if he will come back for her and he says yeah, I will come back for you and it’s beautiful. I think that’s the crux of the film.

We often see a romantic relationship with a girl and boy in a song, but very rarely do we see a relationship between a mother and a son, or a father and a daughter.

It resonates with an audience if the emotions are right. I hope RAW has got that emotion right.

Well let’s hope it does and wish you all the best.

Thank you and I think Leeds has been announced third place in the championship and I hope they get through to the premiership and I wish them all the best.

I am sure they (Leeds United) will be very pleased to hear that from you John. Thank you so much for a lovely interview.

Thank you.