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Just A Minute With: John Abraham on 'New York'

MUMBAI (Reuters) - John Abraham is hurting and it isn’t for the first time.

File photo of Bollywood actor John Abraham in Kolkata fashion week April 5, 2009. The 36-year-old actor is laid up with a broken ankle he sustained while shooting for David Dhawan's "Hook Ya Crook". REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw/Files

The 36-year-old actor is laid up with a broken ankle he sustained while shooting for David Dhawan’s “Hook Ya Crook”.

Things are looking up on the professional front though -- after the box-office success of “Dostana”, Abraham is back with Kabir Khan’s “New York”.

The actor spoke to Reuters about “New York”, his career and why he likes being called eye candy.

Q: You seem to have hurt your leg

A: “Yes, I have broken my navicular bone. I am getting used to walking on crutches though. In 2006, I broke my other leg in a bike accident. This is actually much worse than that. You know so far, I have broken four bones in my body. That’s a lot isn’t it?”

Q: Tell us about ‘New York’

A: “‘New York’ is looking good. The name of my character is Sam, a guy who is a typical jock. He has two friends, Maya and Omar, and it is about a sequence of events that changes their lives.”

Q: This movie talks about discrimination and the after effects of 9/11, which is not a very common theme in Indian movies.

A: “Yes, this is not the jingoistic, America bashing film. It is a very unbiased way of (showing) what happened in America post- 9/11 and the way America looks at a certain section of a community and the way that community looks at America.

“We are also trying to tell a story that is commercial enough to be called a commercial Hindi film. The basic subtext of the plot is very different but the way it has come across is very peppy.”

Q: There is a particularly disturbing scene of you in the promos, lying chained in a small cell.

A: (Laughs) I wish I could tell you more but all I will say is that you are right -- it is a very disturbing scene and we prepared for it for a very long time. I think that is one of the clinchers of the film. If that affects you positively or negatively, then we are home.

“It is not always about the time you have spent on screen, it is about the impact you make, which is what I have always believed an actor should do. If I have managed to do that, I have succeeded. But that is something the audience can say after having seen the film.

“I could blow my own trumpet and say this is my best performance, so films are better not being spoken of the actors themselves.”

Q: So is it your best performance?

A: “Yes. By eons and light years.”

Q: Do you remember the first time you went to New York?

A: “I am very familiar with New York. I used to go there in my modelling days. But when I went there post-‘Kabul Express’, I was taken aside by the authorities and questioned for six hours because I had an Afghanistan stamp on my passport.

“I remember the head honcho (sic) coming in and me talking about ‘Kabul Express’. So he asked me to narrate the story to him. At the end of it, he said ‘really nice story, when is the film releasing?’

“When I played Sam, it was partly reminiscent of what I went through in a very small way. But obviously, there are greater prejudices in the world and there are ways of looking at it. You either feel crucified or you give the other person the benefit of the doubt. I feel there is always a reason for someone to behave irrationally. That is what ‘New York’ is about.”

Q: Do you face moments of insecurity?

A: “All the time. But then, you have to channelise that insecurity into excelling and doing better for yourself. Either you can sit and brood over what you don’t have, or you can work hard and try and achieve what you want.

“I have been the subject of ridicule. I have been pushed into every corner. But these days, because I have broken my foot, I sit across from my father and we talk. And he is a very wise man and he always gave me this example of a fable by William Wordsworth.

“A big man was crossing a bridge that only one person could pass at one time. Little John was crossing it from the other end. They meet at the centre and the big man told John, ‘I don’t let fools pass’. Little John walked back to his end, stepped aside and said ‘but I do’.

“That is exactly my philosophy in life. Give the monkeys peanuts, let them rant, rave and scream, you just do your work. Be a horse with blinkers.”

Q: Are you okay with being looked on as the nation’s eye candy?

A: “Why should I have a problem with that? I want people to look at me as eye candy, if they don’t, I would be in deep trouble. After all it is a visual medium. Why should I feel defensive?

“My audience is the one who comes out of the theatre and says ‘John, we loved you in Dostana’. That’s it. I don’t have to sit at 40 fake award functions and go up and give the same speech 25 times, so that I can prove to the world that I have been liked by my audience. My audience has already rewarded me.”