The patriotic platform is no longer the personal province of Akshay Kumar. Many times over John Abraham has proved he can be as much of a patriot as the next-door guy. His tryst with socially relevant cinema has a longish history. Here are the films where John showed he cared.
I had laughed outright when my friend director Deepa Mehta had suggested John’s name for this film on the plight of the widows of Varanasi. But John pulled it off, much to everyone’s surprise including his own. As far back back as 2005 John slipped out of his comfort zone to play a reformist from the 1930s who marries a widow. Just getting into dhoti to play the character was an ordeal for John as he had never worn one. He worked hard on his speech , body language read up on the reformist movement and delivered a convincing performance.
2. Kabul Express (2006):
Kabul Express Poster
In Kabir Khan’s first feature film, John and Arshad Warsi play journalists exploring the grim reality of Afghanistan after the American invasion. Blending the grim with the grin, in this gritty quasi-documentary John displayed a political consciousness far beyond anything that Bollywood stars are capable of.
3. New York (2009):
New York Poster
Three years after Kabul Express, John re-united with Kabir Khan for this memorable treatise on terrorism where John played a charismatic college student in New York who turns into a jihadi. It was a controversial subject and role and one that John or any other leading actor would not play in the present day and ‘rage’. But John sank his teeth into his best career’s best performance.
4. Madras Café (2013):
Madras Cafe Poster
The harsh brutal reality of Sri Lankan politics in the 1990s when after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, John Abraham’s character is sent to Jaffna to deal with the bloody strife between the Sinhalese and Tamil population. The film became hugely controversial even before release with the Tamilians in Tamil Nadu demanding the film be stopped.
5. Parmanu The Story Of Pokhran (2017):
The surprise success of the year. No one thought this slice-of-history tale would be a success. Chronicling how one man’s initiative turned India into a nuclear state, this wobbly tale found a staunch core of loyal viewership and proved that John’s political cinema was finding wide acceptability.
6. Satyameva Jayate (2018):
Satyameva Jayate Poster
A good honest cop vows to cleanse Indian politics of corruption. Milap Jhaveri’s film was elemental elementary basic raw bloody and brutal. Audiences loved John’s vigilante-cop act . Released for Independence Day it did better business than Akshay Kumar’s polite nationalistic offering Gold.
7. Romeo Akbar Walter (RAW) (2019):
Country first was the big message in this Robby Grewal espionage drama where a RAW agent risks everything, life included, to serve as a spy in Pakistan. Many thought this was the male version of Alia Bhatt’s Raazi. But John taking on various disguises for the first time, wasn’t following anyone’s example. He swings to his own jingoistic beat.
8. Batla House (2019):
Batla House Poster
And now, ladies and gentleman, here comes John Abraham as a real-life cop from the controversial Batla House encounter shootout in 2008. The film defines patriotism in the light of the violence that undercuts all attempts to thwart terror attacks within the restrictions of the law. This film will take John’s career to the next level.