He wears his love for the country on his sleeve. And John Abraham’s film choices too, reflect the same, with a streak of films such as Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran, Satyameva Jayate (both 2018) and Batla House (2019).
We get talking to the 48-year-old on the occasion of Republic Day about a post lockdown India, speaking up on issues as a celebrity, and as he puts it, his ‘obsession’ with India:
To start with, what’s your definition of patriotism?
I just think it starts with little things rather than beating your chest and being jingoistic. That’s a basic thing. Basic prerequisites like tolerance, co-existence with others, these are important. It’s very important that the secular fabric of the country should remain intact.
Has it’s definition evolved in any way in the social media age today? What is that change all about, if it has?
I don’t know whether it has evolved, I know it has changed. For some it may be evolution, for me it’s a change. It’s a different trajectory, you can’t put a finger on what the change is. Till a point, we are proud to be an Indian, beyond a point I guess the change manifests itself either in aggression or opposition, in whatever way you want to manifest. It’s definitely changed, evolution is a question mark.
As a celebrity, do you find it difficult to express your opinion about anything happening in the country, openly today?
As a celebrity, you can express yourself, you have got a platform, but you also must be prepared for the vitriol, negativity and toxicity that comes with it. If you are well prepared to take that, you must voice your opinion. On the other hand, there are issues close to my heart. There is no point in me voicing my opinion on every issue in the country so that I am learned and knowledgeable. I rather voice my opinion on certain issues without spreading myself too thin, because I know there are others voicing theirs on other issues. Someone on animals like me, I am sure someone else is doing it for children, farmers, many people raise their voices. We can’t be flagbearers for every issue, and public should not assume that we necessarily need to be that for all issue. As long as we all understand, that we are also limited like every other citizen of the country, and not endowed with superpowers, then it’s all fine.
You’re doing Satyameva Jayate 2 (SJ2) next, which will release theatrically. What’s that one thing you are sure your patriotic films won’t contain?
What they won’t have is an element of lie in them. Honesty that people see in my love for the country is very evident, not necessarily in films but off films. In general I have an obsession I have with India, I am probably in love with the country for so many reason. Honesty in playing a person who cares for his country comes naturally to me. The element of lie and trying too hard doesn’t exist in my films.
How was your experience of shooting for SJ2 after lockdown restrictions were lifted?
Fantastic, I must give credit to the producers and the positivity that Milap (Milan Zaveri, director) brought. He’s such a wonderful director. There is a wish list actors have to work with x y z directors. Me and Milap have such an equation that it doesn’t matter if the film works or fails. He is happy all the time, that percolates down to the entire unit.
In the post lockdown world, what’s that one change you wish to see in India as it gets back on it’s feet again?
I hoped in the post lockdown world in general and India particularly, it would be a cleaner place. I wish the sense of hygiene in the country would be far more improved. I don’t really see that happening at a very basic level. I am not talking about Mumbai, I travelled to small towns recently, they haven’t really evolved in terms of basic hygiene and cleanliness. These are micro things which need to change. That will also happen through education and awareness.
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