Auto drivers become John Abraham when they have me on-board, says Satyameva Jayate star

Two back to back hits, both speaking inadvertently about patriotism… John Abraham is steadily winning over the masses

For a while, we saw John Abraham only in gossip columns. We didn’t know what he was up to — whether he was giving his career any thought. What with his clothesline, his production house and more, making more news work-wise than for his films, we had safely assumed there wouldn’t be much we would see of the man. Just then he slams us up with back to back hits. The multi-crores he has made at the box office tells you that John Abraham’s equity is going high, as always.

Did you think post-Parmanu, Satyameva Jayate would be such a huge hit?
I knew it was a good film, in fact, I didn’t think twice about saying yes to the film. My first reaction upon seeing the film was WOW! This needs to be made. I was very keen that Manoj Bajpayee plays that other important character in the film, and I was told, his reaction to the film was similar to mine. We both instantly said yes. It was very organic for me, being a part of this film, and it was the same for Manoj, which shows that we intrinsically saw something positive in the film. The magnitude of acceptance cannot be judged ever.

How was it working with Manoj Bajpayee?
I really love the man, I have loved his work, it is really amazing to see how just having him on-board adds credibility to a film. I really think he added gravitas to Satyameva Jayate.

It sure does bring the angry young man back into business…
You could say that. And I will go on to say that it appealed to people because it is the need-of-the-hour. Satyameva Jayate becomes, by default, an aspirational film because the angry young man is within us all. Today’s society, on one hand, is saying India is economically progressive, as we are moving ahead at every juncture. But just take a moment and look at what we are doing with women, what we are doing with children, tell me who is safe in this country? This thought is playing on everyone’s mind. Think this: If you are walking on the road and you feel that a man is undressing you with his eyes, you want to slap that man — my character is doing that for you on screen. If you see corruption going on right in front of your eyes, you want to hit the guy…. My character is doing just that. There is an underlying angst in this country and through Satyameva Jayate we were addressing the main culprit — corruption.

I cannot help but notice how both your recent hits were all about word of mouth publicity. It is the people who are making it a hit…
…and that’s exactly how it should be. I am not someone to say this is right and this isn’t, but I really think it is futile for an actor to go to 90 cities promoting your film. Yes, you need to go on television and give interviews but you don’t have to do it on every show with a moderately strong TRP. It is madness to see how much money is spent on promotions these days. It is a vicious cycle; we need to stop that madness.

You mean, one shouldn’t promote films so vehemently?
I just feel one should market a film organically, tell people this is the product we have made. Let them have their own opinion about it and stuff. I love the way Aamir (Khan) works around his movies. He comes out with the look in the beginning, if someone asks, he mentions the film and so on. It is very organic and smart.
My problem is coming on 20 different shows, 70 different cities, actors travelling with an entourage of 50 people. I don’t think one needs to spend so much for publicity.

Being a producer yourself might have helped change your perspective considerably about many things related to filmmaking, right?
Of course, it is educational to be a producer, but if you think my views on marketing have changed because of that, that is not true. Once again, I am not judging the actors who do have an entourage of 50 people around them, but I am just one of them who doesn’t believe in having a bodyguard or even a driver. I drive myself around. If the car is not available I take an autorickshaw. I don’t have a problem with it, I am not trying to make a statement either. I just don’t like the hassle.

I am sure, the autorickshaw driver would have been most frazzled having John Abraham as a passenger, every time you board one…
They themselves become John Abraham when they have me on board, zooming away keeping the bystanders gawking! It is lovely
to see.

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