John Abraham is packing a punch with three theatrical releases this year, most recent being gangster drama Mumbai Saga, and the actor-producer says he will “always” choose the big screen over streamers. According to the 48-year-old star, it is important for the film industry to instill confidence in cinema owners as they open their theatres with adherence to the COVID-19 protocol, so that audience can once again look forward to the community viewing experience.
“For me, the joy is reaching out to common people through my films because we are here to entertain them. I want to make good films. I don’t care about success and failure. I like to succeed in reaching out to more people. I want the audience to have that big screen experience. We lost that sense of big screen, heroism in films and ‘Mumbai Saga’ will bring that back,” Abraham told PTI in an interview.
There is “general consensus that actors are palming off their not-so-good films” on OTT (over-the-top) platforms, he said.
“There are few actors who see their films and realise it is best to go on OTT directly to save from the embarrassment of coming on the big screen… Films are judged on every medium. (And) They are ripping apart films on OTT,” he added.
The actor also stars in Satyameva Jayate 2 and Attack, both action dramas scheduled to be released in cinema halls. While Satyameva Jayate 2 will clash with Salman Khan’s Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai on the Eid holiday of May 13, Attack will open on Independence Day weekend.
This year, Abraham will also be seen in a cameo in Sardar Ka Grandson, slated to be released on the streamer Netflix. Starring Arjun Kapoor, Neena Gupta, and Rakul Preet Singh in the lead, the film is a joint production of Abraham’s JA Entertainment, Emmay Entertainment and T-Series.
Although OTT is a “great avenue”, the actor said he doesn’t want to take away the theatrical experience from the audience.
“The OTT platform is a great avenue and an option. But for me, it has always been about the big screen, being a big screen hero. I won’t be available for subscription fee,” he added.
In Mumbai Saga, directed by Sanjay Gupta, Abraham plays a gangster named Amartya Rao. The actor, who has played grey roles in movies like Shootout at Wadala and Race 2, said he enjoys playing the anti-hero.
“Normal has become boring. If you make a regular film, where the script is conceptually different and then you play a regular man, it is fine. People also love the anti-hero and they are going to relate to the film because we all are a face of rebellion in this country.”
The film, slated to be released on Friday, is set in the 1980s-90s and revolves around all that went into transforming Bombay into Mumbai. There were unconfirmed reports that Mumbai Saga will premiere on a digital platform, but Gupta stuck to his promise of releasing the movie in cinema halls.
Abraham, best known for action entertainers like Dhoom, Madras Cafe, Satyameva Jayate and Batla House, said the surge in COVID-19 cases is worrying for the makers who had barely started rolling out the dates of the ready to be released films.
“My concern as an actor is my film has to be decent enough to be a good enough film. Also, every actor is worried about his filmography and what his net collections will look like. We don’t know what is going to happen next, the cases are going up now.”
Mumbai Saga also features Emraan Hashmi, Kajal Aggarwal, Mahesh Manjrekar, Suniel Shetty, Prateik Babbar, Rohit Roy, Gulshan Grover, and Amole Gupte. It is produced by T-Series, White Feather Films, and Sangeeta Ahir.