John Abraham doesn’t believe in promoting a film beyond a point, and says he would never stand around in a mall, throw T-shirts and blow kisses to sell a film.
Excerpts from an interview with John ahead of the release of his new film Force 2, which hits the screens on Friday:
Q. Does “Force 2” have a relevance beyond entertainment?
Absolutely. We were really inspired by Captain Saurabh Kalia’s story — the way his body was mutilated by Pakistanis shook us to the core. ‘Force‘ was a film close to my heart. But it was about one man’s personal grief and revenge. In ‘Force 2‘, we wanted to move ahead.
Q. How did you do that?
The idea came organically. In the first film, my character fought for the family. Here, we wanted to take him beyond our borders. Our soldiers are losing their lives. While we sleep peacefully, our soldiers are losing their lives. Our film is dedicated to the soldiers who gave their lives on the border fighting for our safety.
Q. Was that sentiment thrust on you by political pressure?
Not at all. We haven’t thrust the message down people’s throats. We’ve got the message across through an engaging plot line. People are going to walk out with some thoughts in their heads.
Q. What makes you so confident about “Force 2”?
Both — my director Abhinay Deo and I — believe “Force” is the largest action-franchise of this country. If Matt Damon has a Bourne series and Vin Diesel has a Fast & Furious, John Abraham has the Force series.
Q. Too many sequels in the market?
And as far as sequels go, this one is not ‘Force’-fitted, pun intended, ha ha. Now we are looking at “Force 3“. And we are not presuming that “Force 2” would be a success.
Q. So a global political awareness would be common to the Force series?
Yes, that’s how my co-producers Vipul Shah, Viacom18 and I feel. And no beating of the chest, no jingoism, no self-congratulation. Just a sincere attempt to look at global happenings.
Q. A serious recession has hit the entertainment industry after the demonetisation. How will that affect your film?
To be honest, we have been very practical producers. We have worked out the numbers so that we are financially safe even before the film’s release. That’s one part of it. The other more important part of the film is the audiences’ acceptance. I bow my head and say in all humility to the audience we’ve made a sincere film. Going on comedy shows to say this won’t help our film.
Q. You walked out of “Comedy Nights Bachao”?
I am a meticulous media marketing planner. But even I’ve to admit that a lot of the media stuff we do to promote a film, is wasteful.
Q. You can make an epic film out of the budget set aside for the marketing of big films?
I’ll reserve comments on epic films because they often shut down shop. But yes, the marketing budget can easily fund an entire film. Still, I roam around in my chappals on various channels promoting my films.
Q. But you don’t attend awards functions?
Speaking in the capacity of a producer, when studios are attached to a film, there are certain commitments that one must fulfill. But I am totally against city tours and television events to promote a film.
Q. So how far will you go to promote a film?
I will never stand around in a mall, throw T-shirts and blow kisses. Ultimately, it’s the product that counts, not how much you sell it.
Q. Would you attend an awards function if you’re promised an award?
With award functions, it’s a complete no-no for me. But to each his own. Award functions are live shows where actors get paid to perform. The same actors win all the awards every year. I don’t know how that actor doesn’t get bored. I am one actor who doesn’t get that chance.
Q. To get awards or to get bored?
Q. So tell me why would audiences want to see “Force 2”?
Because we’ve got some of the best action directors from across the world. We’ve got Franz Spilhaus from South Africa, and we’ve got our own Allan Amin. We’ve got a wide range of the best stunt choreographers to make my action look convincing. And we’ve got a hero who doesn’t believe in promoting a film beyond a point.