We recently caught up with John Abraham, Sonakshi Sinha and Tahir Raj Bhasin for a quick chat regarding their upcoming action flick Force 2 at a suburban studio.
Excerpts from the interview...
Q. How relevant is Force 2 in today's times?
John- We planned this film one and a half years back. So, there was no sense of nationalism or being opportunistic that we wanted to do or we wanted to be in this film. Co-incidentally, unfortunately the Uri attacks happened. Suddenly Force 2 has become a far more relevant film in today's times. It was never planned that we will work around a certain attack. I was also fascinated by the film's script. We should make films based on true stories.
Force 2 is an amalgamation of true stories of RAW agents, spies and all these people. We got these things together and created a credible story. But we were also clear that we wanted to make a commercial film and not a preachy documentary. Force is a hardcore commercial franchise. So, Force 2 is a commercial film. There's maar-dhaad, there are songs. But still it's very credible. When you will walk out after watching the film you will be like wow, this film does make sense.
Q. You have done life-defying action stunts for this film. Do you think it's worth it?
John- I don't have a false sense of bravado. If there is enough amount of safety measures taken then there is no harm. Of course, if there are no safety standards then you will have a problem like what recently happened with two Kannada actors. Sonakshi and Tahir did their own stunts. See, when you do your own stunts, the audience is also smart enough to know that your face isn't stitched upon someone else's body. Trust me, doing all stunts by your own self is a lot of fun. It was all smooth sailing.
There are some heroes who like to dance while there are others who like action. I enjoy this space.
We didn't realize when the film's shooting started and when it ended. The energy on the sets was very positive.
Q. Wasn't your family scared to see you doing all these risky stunts?
John- My family has seen me landing up in the hospital so many times. Every time when I do some action, I end up injuring either my hands or my legs. But the idea is not to worry about how you get hurt but post-operative care is very important. I don't want people to feel sorry for me. I believe sometimes the injury helps you to become stronger and fitter because till then you have been taking life for granted. When you get hurt, you realize life is precious.
Q. When you posted your injury video on the social networking sites, you received a lot of mixed reactions. There were a few who viewed it as a publicity gimmick. How do you react to these things?
John- The social media is filled with faceless people. I feel sorry sometimes. I feel women are more honest in expressing their views today. Bravery or honesty on the internet doesn't exist anymore. I feel these people are unhappy, there are some who want to vent their anger. An actor is an easy target for them.
I didn't post that video to gain any kind of sympathy. I wanted to tell people that people that we really worked hard on this film and we did get injured. Being an actor isn't a glamorous life. I am not only speaking up for myself but for the entire actor fraternity. It's an honest film. When we have tried to make something good that we hope you will enjoy.
We don't sit here and pacify critics. We don't expect five people from the industry to write something on us. We just want to get our film and hope to receive appreciation from them.
Q. You have done a lot of action flicks. Do you think there has been a significant evolution in this genre in Bollywood?
John- Yes. I hope we get safer. Like they say safety begins at home. For example, if I am shooting a film in Mumbai, I need my action directors to have the harnesses and other safety measures to protect me and most importantly my stuntmen who risk their lives. Action is not about doing backflips or jumping on a wall like a monkey.
Action is an attitude. Most of the times it's our stuntmen who pull off action scenes like breaking the glass. They go home injured at times. Do we even ask them their names? I think we need to give them credit and respect.
I say this because action is like a second nature to me. I have always supported that cause.
Q. Sonakshi, we saw you as an action girl in Akira. So, is your role in Force 2 an extension of that?
Sonakshi- Akira and Force 2 are two different films. You will get to see a whole new variety of action in this film.
The action in Akira was very raw whereas here it's very stylish and sleek. There are running and chase sequences. There is hand to hand combat as well, shot in a very different way. My character is very different. I play a RAW agent here. You can say that it's the extension of my action persona.
Q. Do you think that the audience is still taking some time to see the girls doing action?
Sonakshi- I got some great feedback for the action that I did in Akira. Whether the audience is taking some time to see girls doing action, is yet to be seen. As far as I know, I was really appreciated. Why should boys have all the fun? (laughs)
Q. This is your second film after Mardaani where you are playing the antagonist. The trailer does faintly remind one of the villainous character that you played in your first film..
Tahir- The character that I played in Mardaani was a dark one, someone who is always on the phone. Here, he's got a sense of humour, is very sarcastic and a lot more open with the protagonist. It's an agile film. Surprisingly, he doesn't like violence. The reason why I took up Force 2 was because my role here was so different from what I had done in the past.
Q. Mardaani released in 2014. You have a gap of two years before Force 2 releasing. Were you looking out for some specific roles?
Tahir- I didn't want to do something similar. I believe that it takes time to make some quality films. We started shooting for Force 2 in September last year. Yes, it did take time to make this movie but the reason for that would be pretty evident when you watch it.
Q. Do you enjoy exploring the grey space more?
Tahir- I believe a gangster can have a soft side to him and a romantic lover can have a dark side. It becomes interesting to play characters when they have depth to them. The reason why I chose to do Force 2 was there was depth to my character. There is a reason why he is doing things in the film.
Q. Actors generally look forward to kick-start their character with a lover boy role whereas you chose the other way...
Tahir- A lot of actors like Shahrukh Khan, Irrfan Khan, Sonakshi's dad and John himself did negative roles at the start of their career. In today's space you just have to prove yourself with your work.
John- Black is the new white.
Q. Force performed well at the box office. Does that kind of adds pressure when you come you come up with a sequel?
John- We know people have expectations. We are also putting our heads down and working. We haven't proclaimed anywhere that Force 2 is a fantastic film. We don't say that we expect this much business. We just want to make an honest film and want the audience to accept it. I have learnt it the hard way. I don't make any false proclamations and don't want anyone to validate what our film looks like by having a secret screening for five influential people. I am being very honest. I think the audience is the final decision maker.
Q. Can you elaborate further when you say you have learnt the hard way?
John- I have only learnt the hard way. There's nothing that has come to me easy. I have always been in a situation where everything that I have done has been questioned. From the time I have come into this industry to the time I became a producer. The only thing that has brought me till this point is self-conviction. I am only convinced that I can do it by myself. I sit alone and convince myself. I am often criticized but there is a difference between self respect and ego. If you draw a thin line then you know when to take the hit and when to hit back.