One genre that John Abraham has definitely mastered is action. From Dhoom to Force 2 and even Madras Cafe, this is something John is unbeatable at. After a few duds, John is finally returning to what he does best. With three consecutive action flicks up his mantle, John does the straight talk as he discusses action in Bollywood, focusing on his next three releases- Rocky Handsome, Dishoom and Force 2! 

Rocky Handsome is receiving tremendous responses from the audience. Does this get you excited?
I didn’t expect the trailer to receive such an unprecedented response. Rocky Handsome is a genre specific film whereas there are lots of films which are palatable to other audiences as well. Full marks to Nishikant and his team to cut such a brilliant teaser and trailer but trust me the film is way better than what you see in the trailer. I hope the great response translates into great opening numbers, but one thing I can assure you of is that the film will carry a great word of mouth which will help it sustain well.

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As a producer, how important is a film’s box office return for you?
Rocky Handsome is a commercial film. Being a producer, what matters to me is money and fortunately, I have pre-sold the satellite and overseas distribution rights because of which Rocky Handsome will be a safe film by Sunday. Numbers is a gratification you get when people like your work.

You have turned a very hands-on producer. As a producer, what is it that lures you to make films?
I became a producer because I wanted to act in films which I really wanted to be a part of, but didn’t get an opportunity for the same. I wanted the audience to see films which they have not seen before. It has become very difficult for me to produce content which appeals to the audiences as I am a very young producer and I may often make mistakes. My biggest battle as a producer is that I don’t see myself as an actor in most of scripts which I like, so I have to go and approach someone else.

Any other scripts in mind now?
I am working on two scripts and both of them are very credible. One is in the space of Madras Café and other one is in the space of Vicky Donor. I have got the real excitement of working with younger actors as I feel all of them are very talented. Apart from them, I really like Akshay Kumar. He surprised me recently by suddenly coming in the middle of an interview and sitting on my lap. He is one of those persons with whom I genuinely love to spend time with. I actually had an interesting conversation with Varun Dhawan on how I could best project him.

The element of emotions hasn’t been unraveled in the promos yet. Is it a planned move?
We are unfolding a little bit of Rocky Handsome with the songs. They capture different moods of the film. Apparently you will feel action is the USP of Rocky Handsome, but we want to surprise the audience with the emotional content. Also, we want to show action which is not just palatable to the male audiences but also to women. Our action is very cool, urban and sexy. I always compare the content and marketing strategy of Bajrangi Bhaijaan. The teaser and trailer did not tell you much about the emotional content, but when you came out from theatre, you realize what a beautiful film it is, you felt the emotions. Similarly even we want people to come out and say what a beautiful film Rocky Handsome is!

Censors have given it an A certificate. Did you have a problem with that?
The A Certification will limit our audience as we will get only 18 plus audience coming for it. We are surprised but we respect the decision of censor board. They are going by the rule book. If anything has to be changed it has to be changed at macro level. My film does not have any intimacy or double meaning jokes but violence, and I guess violence exists everywhere. We are confident that our film is good.

Were you expecting something like this?
Not at all! What we have done consciously is bring about a change in our presentation of action making it palatable for women and kids. So our action is cool, sexy, urban and we like it that way.

When an action film like this gets an A-certificate, somewhere it limits the audience as well…
We have taken the decision very graciously. Though the younger audience seems to be very fascinated. A lot of reactions that I have got are from 10-12 year old kids who love that knife fight. It’s so cool!

Salman had previously said that giving A certificate to action films is the worst decision ever.
Ya, I also feel the same.

Do you think it will affect the box office prospects in any way?
No, I don’t think so. I believe in smart movie making. I have always tried to back a concept driven film. For Rocky Handsome, we will be in the safe zone by the end of Sunday or the first Monday latest.

Don’t you think because of this certification, people will watch the film on pirated DVDs and torrents?
Everyone will watch this film. Mark my words. Even kids under 16 will watch Rocky Handsome. It’s a kid friendly film and is absolutely inoffensive.

Other countries have different ratings like 12+ and 16+. Do you think something like that should be done here as well?
Before I can answer this, I think I need to delve further into what the censorship laws are overseas vis-à-vis India. Once I have a clear understanding of that, I can comment on this.
In Hollywood, actors take pride in being called action stars while in India, it’s considered a typecast. Do you think the scenario will change soon?
I think actors should be apologetic by slot in a certain way. When you talk about Sylvester Stallone, these guys are action stars but more than the body, it is the attitude which works big time. Attitude and body language make actors huge action stars. We get worried because we have a tendency of ruthlessly being slotted. Stallone will do films like Creed, Rocky, Rambo and Expendables and be happily secure in that space but here we like to keep experimenting.

Rocky Handsome is clashing with a big Hollywood film Batman v/s Superman. Any worries?
We respect the fact that we have another film releasing alongside but will that affect our collections? I don’t think so. I am of the opinion that our collections will not be up to the mark only if our film is not good. I am sure there will be an audience who would want to see a real hero and not a super hero.

Do you think action today in India is a bastardised term?
I think we have been entertained by larger than life action. I will be very honest, the audiences enjoy watching action wherein the hero hits 5 guys. With Rocky Handsome, we have tried to bring a change. When was the last time you found reliable action in a Bollywood film? It was Force where you could actually see the characters hitting each other. Before Force, the most intense action sequence was in Gaddar when Sunny Deol pulls the hand pump out. I don’t think such action is bad as there is a big market for it. I cannot be critical about action and I love all kind of action. It is beautiful to try different forms of action.

Among the younger generation, anyone you want to work with?
I would love to produce a film with Varun Dhawan. He is a good boy, a khulla actor and he can do anything. He is Salman Khan meets Govinda and that is one of the biggest qualities he has. He has Salman Khan’s style and attitude and Govinda’s comic timing. Since he is sweet looking, he is very endearing to his audience. I want to make something which is very special to me as well as to him. I want to produce a film which Varun will be very proud of.
You are working with him in Dishoom. How’s that shaping up?
Dishoom is shaping up fantastically. I can guarantee that there will be a Dishoom 8 and Dishoom 10. Other action franchises in Bollywood have now aged, and Dishoom will be a very young franchise because of Varun Dhawan.

Back to back three action films, how will it be different?
The action in Rocky Handsome is completely different from the action in Dishoom and the action in Dishoom is completely different from the action in Force 2. I think Rohit Dhawan is the Micheal Bay of India as he makes everything look larger than life. Dishoom is going to have choppers flying, speed boats. I think the action in Dishoom is similar to Bad Boys. Force 2 has completely different action where we have roped in guys of Mad Max Fury Road. We have used different kinds of action like we have used bikes, cars, guns, hand to hand fight sequences and we have mounted it differently. Rocky Handsome is completely raw and real.

Would you love to remake a Hollywood action film in India?
I would like to do a film like Expendables in India. It would be fun to blow up all the buildings right? There were 30 actors in Expendables and in Bollywood there are about 15 actors, so I expect the entire Bollywood to be a part of Expendables if made in India.

What’s the update on
Hera Pheri 3?
As far as Hera Pheri 3 is concerned, I called up Firoz Nadiadwala before leaving for the shoot of Dishoom and told him that I will give him dates from May 15 to July 15 but he has not got back to me. No one knows anything about Hera Pheri 3 except Firoz Nadiadwala.