Q. Is there any reason to do patriotic films back to back?
John- Doing patriotic films is not by design, it’s by default. As an audience, there are certain scripts that appeal to me so I work on them. RAW is something that blew my mind, I loved the idea, even Batla House. RAW is not stereotypical patriotic film. In the trailer, you won’t understand whether I am a spy or traitor, so there is a lot to be revealed in the film when you watch it.
Q. Do you feel that audience are more attracted to real stories?
John- If I have to answer in a very cliche way then yes the audience is very attracted to real stories. They want to see true stories because the fact is always stranger than fiction. It’s easy to present something that is real, it’s more difficult to concoct something and put it into a character. If this really happened then it comes to credibility, so that’s the big advantage true stories have.
Q. Please tell us something about Pagalpanti?
John- I love to work with Anees Bazmee, I am a big fan of his work, and I enjoy the space. Its a fun film and kind of rollercoaster ride, I don’t think there is a minute of rest from laughter you gonna laugh every second of the film. Its universal film so anybody of age after 4 can enjoy it.
Q. How many characters do you play in RAW? Is it 3, like Romeo Akbar Walter or is it pun on raw?
John- Actually there are 15 but the mains are only 3. I give credit to my co-producer Bunty Walia, so he coined the idea. The character name is Rehmatulla Ali (Romeo), Akbar Malik and Walter Khan, so when we got these names, fortunately, it was Romeo Akwar Walter so RAW worked for us. So we thought its very attractive name.
Q. You do all the stunts in your film, seeing that children also try to imitate it, so what is your say on it?
John- Before the film, there is a statutory warning, like on cigarette packet it will kill yourself still people take it. So it is a matter of choice. We clearly inform in comments – do not try this at home, so it is all about your choice, there cannot be a restriction. After all, we are the cinema we have to entertain, we have to make different kinds of film. I am an action person if I break through a wall, so no kid is going to try to break a wall.
Q. Is the story of RAW about Ravindra Kaushik?
John- No, it is different. In RAW my character is inspired by 3 different character – Romeo Akbar Walter. It is a true story of 3 characters, which we have combined, culminated and amalgamated. We have portrayed 3 characters the rest of everything in the film is fact.The father of Robie Greywal is into military intelligence, so we have not gone wrong with any kind of detail. Everything in the movie is exactly what happened in 1971. Important is that this film is not there to educate but to entertain, but when you walk out of the film you will feel something and you will love the film. Everyone should watch this film it is a very special film, I don’t say this about many films.
Q. From a long time you doing serious issue content film and as you said this is not planned. Your modeling days are over now and you are doing content-driven films. According to you is there any change in your style of acting?
John- I started modeling after my MBA, then I was politically aware. I had done marketing so I learned if you have to sell a product you have to sell USP of the product. I was a product and USP was my physicality thus I used my physicality till that point where I had to sell myself, then I decided to do what I really wanted to do. After I have become a producer the level of performance has been completely different from before. After becoming a producer there has been certain maturity in the performances because I am convinced about what I am doing now that’s why I became a producer. Vicky Donar was my film but at the end of the day, I cast the best person for the film. So casting is also very important if the casting is right than performances are great.
Q. An actor/actress is being constantly judged. You have been in this industry for so long, how do you deal with all this? Also, you have smartly managed to build up a bridge. How have you managed to do that?
John- I wanted to create a space for myself and I wanted to live in that, because if you conform to a certain style or a culture then you land up being at every party or a cam, and I am not a follower, I don’t know how to follow people, I don’t know how to belong to a cam, I don’t understand that culture, it doesn’t exist in my head. Which is why I do my kind of films, I don’t go to any director with hands folded saying please give me a film, because I believe I can create my own content. I am not saying my content is best in the world but at least today when anybody goes to watch J Entertainment film there is something different in the film. I am not saying I want to do a 100 crore film or 50crore, I just want to create a different story that viewer could possibly enjoy it. That’s why I keep myself private and think what is the point in me sitting somewhere and shooting. The problem today is there are so many social media stars but what have they really done in cinema, have they done anything that is impactful in cinema, the answer probably is no. so I think it’s important to let your work do the talking.
Q. We haven’t seen you in the award function. What’s your take on awards?
John- I don’t respect awards. How do you have an award called the best social media internet star for me? I don’t know which award it was, I don’t want to create any this year. I have zero respect for awards and because they know I disrespect them they don’t even nominate me. Parmanu was worth the nomination but we wouldn’t be nominated because of my disrespect for every award expect national awards. Award functions are the laughing stock but still we go for it, still, we have paan masala brand that is endorsing the award and we are standing in front of a paan masala. Where is our credibility gone today – to the dogs. But that’s the lifestyle.
Q. When a patriotic film is released there is a big take of censor. So what do you have to say about it?
John- I was shocked that RAW didn’t get a single cut, it got U/A certificate and its got only 2 words, we changed one and beap the other, apart from that sensor has passed the entire film. They enjoyed it and they said this needs nothing. So I give them credit for this, maybe the board has changed or their mindset has changed, maybe I know it in the next film. I don’t want to be presumptuous, but they have been good at RAW.
By Rupal Purohit