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‘It’s not about the body, it’s about performance’

Meet the new John Abraham, who doesn’t believe in revisiting the past but only looking ahead. With several movies of different genres in hand, the man is back in action.

Of all the ten solo films you’ve done, only one (Jism) worked at the box office.

Ten, really? I haven’t counted (Laughs). Since you’ve counted my solo releases, you must have figured that they’re of varied content. That’s why the probability of them working at the box office was low. But that will not stop me from doing experimental cinema. I have always taken risks and will continue to. I know one thing for sure, whenever I do commercial cinema, it rocks!

Do you feel additional pressure when you have a solo-hero release?

I usually do experimental films. So when I do a commercial film, there is suddenly additional pressure on me. The things is, the moment your next film releases, people forget your last film, whether a hit or a flop. In my case, I have a lot of films coming, one after another. To answer your question, I’m not taking any kind of pressure. At the same time, I am a biker and I love pressure. Put as much pressure as you want and I’ll take it. (Laughs)

Force is a cop film. Do the box-office collections of other cop films like Dabangg and Singham, which have made over Rs 100 crore, bother you?

The moment we cross Rs 30 crore at the box office, Force will be a hit. Anything more is a bonus. We have recovered a lot of money from our satellite rights. Also, the film has been made on a very good and small budget. Despite this, it looks really huge.

You have five major films coming up – Desi Boyz, Housefull 2, Race 2, I Me Aur Main and Shootout At Wadala. Is this a make-or-break time for you?

There is no such thing as a make-or-break time in the industry. It is unnecessary pressure that people try to put on us actors.

You’re usually in the news for your physique. Why did you take so long to do an out-an-out action film?

If you have seen the posters of Force, it is pretty evident that I have the body to be an action star. Physicality will always take precedence in my case even if I cover myself. So I have stopped trying to. But I try to keep on challenging myself with roles, which are different from my image as I am fighting a different battle. A regular-looking guy would be considered a good actor but a guy who has a certain physicality has to fight against it so people can see him beyond that physicality. I am fighting this on an everyday basis. If someone says, “I liked you in New York,” there will be someone who would say, “In that torture sequence, you were naked and I loved it.”

It’s shocking but then, every individual has their own way of looking at things. How long can you tell people that it’s not about the body; it’s about the performance?

Action movies are doing well at the ticket counter. (Smiles) I think people perceive as me joining in late. After Dhoom released, I was advised to take on more action movies. Now they’re asking, “Why now?” But I think I have matured as a human being and as an actor and I am ready for all types of films. Action films will go a long way but it’s just a coincidence that there are so many releasing at this point. It is not happening because we actors had come up with a secret plan to do action films now. But comedy still rules the business. When you watch the promo of Desi Boyz; you will tell me how much you laughed.

What is it like working with Akshay Kumar in two films after a gap of seven years?

He’s a teacher to me. I have learnt a lot from him. Though we’re both into fitness, we have our own style of working out. His level of fitness is completely different. You can’t compare us as he’s in a different league.

The grapevine has it that Akshay Kumar recommended you for Housefull 2.

I don’t think so; I have known Sajid for a very long time. To a lot of people, he might appear arrogant but on the inside, he’s a real softie. To top it all, we are both half-Parsi.

There was talks that a few action scenes in Force were changed recently as they were very similar to those in Singham.

I haven’t watched Singham. Nishikant, our director, must have watched it. But all our action was locked in, enacted and in the process even before Singham released. The only thing we added to the film was one romantic scene between Genelia and me.

The main villain of Force has a physique just like yours. Was he cast so that the film had the perfect climax, where both of you rip off your shirts and fight?

When we met Vidyut, we felt we were blessed. Till then, we couldn’t find anyone who could match my body. A lot of people asked, “Why him, he’s an unknown face.” My answer was that I was an unknown face when I made my debut. It is only fair to give someone new a chance and Vidyut was a deserving candidate. And as you said, when you see the two of us fighting at the end, it will be jaw-dropping. (Smiles)

About your future projects… You have two comedies, two action films and one romantic film coming up.

(Cuts in) Do you know what Aditya Chopra once told me? He said if I capture the action space, I would occupy it for 15 years. There is no one doing action in the younger age bracket and I’m in the younger bracket. Aditya Chopra is like a God for me. He praised me after watching New York and I did not believe him. But when the reports came in, I agreed to anything he said. When I met him later, I told him people would still see only my physicality. Adi Sir advised me not to bother with what people were saying.

Though you say Aditya Chopra is like a God to you, you haven’t signed any films with Yash Raj Films since New York.

Right now, they don’t have any scripts for me. But the moment they do, they will call me and I will grab it with both hands.

What do you think went wrong with Jhootha Hi Sahi?

I still consider it my best performance. But the film happened nearly a year ago and I don’t think I would like to revisit it. The best thing you can do in life is look ahead.

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