John Abraham – An ‘outsider’ with a two decade successful journey who made Bollywood his home

By Joginder Tuteja

Of late, there have been quite some extensive debates, conversations (and unfortunately) arguments too over the whole insider v/s outsider phenomenon. While this could well be true for any industry, it gets noticed the most in Bollywood due to the glamour quotient involved with it. There are some insiders (read, those with connections in the industry) who are successful but then there are also outsiders, who have made Bollywood their home. 

Three such major stars who have been successful in making that happen for them are Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar and John Abraham.

Shah Rukh Khan’s story is what legends are made of, Akshay Kumar has been an epitome of hard work while John Abraham has been all about making his choices count. While Shah Rukh Khan and Akshay Kumar’s story goes three decades back in time, even John Abraham has been consistency personified, what with an initial struggle that goes more than two decades back.

It wasn’t an easy start for a complete ‘outsider’ who had to pave his way into the industry. Yes, he was blessed with immense good looks. Yes, he had a physique to die for. And yes, he had a smile with a dimple that could get any girl weak on her knees. However, he wasn’t alone. At any point in time, one can possibly find dozens of such youngsters trying to make it big.

This is where John’s smart intellect and business acumen came into picture. He knew that if were to be trapped in this entire insider v/s outsider argument, it would lead him to nowhere. Instead, he decided to let his work speak for itself, as he moved on from one break to another. Films were still a bit far away but after his several advertisements and modeling assignments, he decided to take the approach of the music videos.

Result? Just before the new millennium was about to kick-start, John Abraham started becoming a regular feature in many a music videos towards the late 90s. Search on Google and you would be pleasantly surprised to see a dozen odd videos featuring him, some of the most popular ones being ‘Yun Mere Khat Ka Jawab’, ‘Tere Jhanjhar Jisne Banayi’ and ‘Pind Di Hawa’ to name a few. The idea was to keep working hard, stay smart and not get bogged down by quite a few chances that slipped the hand and instead focus on what next was in the offering.

It may well have been one tiring wait considering it took John Abraham four long years before he finally bagged his first Bollywood film. However, he waited, as he started with none other than Bhatts with leading lady Bipasha Basu. The film was Jism and though it was a hit, one can’t really say that ‘well, rest was history’. Reason being that his next three releases were flops – Saaya, Paap and Aetbaar.

However, bigger and better things were lined up ahead with him as he got a break with none other than Yash Raj Films, which is currently in the line of fire. However, Yash Chopra and Aditya Chopra trusted a rank outsider to deliver and that he did with Dhoom. Later, Karan Johar and his Dharma Productions too signed him up for Kaal and that too when there was again a flurry of flops between Dhoom and Kaal. The point here is that his talent spoke to the loudest and the fact that he had certain screen presence and fan following that kept him warm in Bollywood.

His career did take off from this point on and though between 2005-2010 he had his fair share of successes as well as disappointments, John Abraham didn’t go on a rampage signing films, and in turn risking making wrong choices. Instead, at the turn of the new decade, he started working in a mix of roles, many of these been action affairs as well as comedies, something that helped him enjoy a firm standing in the industry. 

Force, Housefull 2, Race 2, Shootout at Wadala, Madras Cafe, Welcome Back were some of the back to back successes that showed John Abraham in a different light altogether, and something that announced loud and clear that star had arrived. An actor, who had a rather shaky beginning in the first few years of his career, save a few hits, had now firmly positioned himself and that too without being associated with a cap of reliance on a Godfather. As a matter of fact he turned producer too with Vicky Donor and delivered a superhit there.

Today, save for a Pagalpanti that didn’t work, John has seen a flurry of hits already in the form of Dishoom, Parmanu: The Story of Pokharan, Satyameva Jayate and Batla House. His success ratio, if one looks at his last 14 releases, has been quite impressive with 9 of these being profit makers. For any major star out there, this could well be an enviable number to be proud of.

As a matter of fact his line up ahead if super impressive too with Mumbai Saga lined up for release, Attack in the final stages of completion and Satyameva Jayate 2 raring to go. Moreover, he has also announced the remake of Malayalam hit Ayyappanum Koshiyum. This isn’t all as a couple of other announcements are on the anvil as well and would soon be made public once the lockdown is lifted and Bollywood gets back to normalcy.

For a star actor who has largely stayed away from controversies in his two decade career and has successfully navigated through 40 odd films to emerge as a major force in the reckoning, John Abraham could well be the story of motivation of many a youngster who may be having second thoughts around Bollywood, given the current focus and debate. Well, while luck of course plays a major role, at the end of the day it’s the talent, hard work, smart choices and being persistent/perseverance that counts the most, something that John would agree as well.

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