Of late John has been almost completely out of the public glare. Ask him why, and he sighs a deep fatigued but relieved sigh.
“It’s not as if I’m being a recluse or anything. My father was very unwell. We were in and out of hospital all the time.
For that period of time nothing else mattered to me…nothing at all. While he was ill I couldn’t think of anything else. Even all those rumours of my so-called break-up with Bipasha just passed over my dead.”
Bipasha was by John’s side all through the time that his father was in hospital. “She’s very family-oriented, just like me. To both of us family comes first. Then just when my dad recuperated my mom broke her leg. So it’s been all about a bout of loving my parents,” chuckles John at his own cleverness.
The naysayers have been proven wrong, at least about this Bollywood relationship.
Says John, “Isn’t that so with all speculation about relationships? Only the two people in the relationship know the truth. Everyone else makes wild speculations, the wilder the spicier. Sure every relationship has its ups and downs. ”
Quietly he has completed and wrapped up work on two very unusual films.
“The unusual has become usual for me,” John chuckles cleverly. “People expect a certain kind of unpredictability in my work. And both my forthcoming films No Smoking and Goal move away from the safe zone. But when have I ever been safe in the safe zone?”
In Anurag Kashyap’s No Smoking which opens at the end of October John plays a man loath to quit smoking. “Again it isn’t the kind of film that you’d call conventional. I don’t mind dancing around trees. But I’d rather embrace the trees than run around them,” he draws a sharp reference to his environmentalist’s role in Deepa Mehta’s Luna.
John reverts to his current favourite. “I’m very very fond of Anurag Kashyap’s approach to filmmaking. I seek out directors like Anurag Kashyap and Sriram Raghavan. I don’t really care to walk the trodden path. So what if I’m not working with all the bigwigs of the entertainment industry?
The thrill of working with talent that gets discovered while working with you is something else. It’s like finding a new road map to a treasure- chest. I saw the spark in Sriram long back and have supported him into making the cinema he believes in.”
Goal too takes John on a different trip. “From the time I came in I’ve walked the lonely path. As a newcomer from outside the film industry with no connections I had no choice but to deliver from the start. It’s not like I had a godfather or a father to support me. And even if you do, you can’t fool the audience.
Abhishek Bachchan’s career worked after so many hiccups not because of who he is, but because he was good. You can’t hold a good man down.”
Right now John is raring to go. “I worked really hard on No Smoking. Started smoking and became quite an inhaler because we had to show the character’s metamorphosis from smoker to no smoker.
In a film like this you can’t fake the smoking. I hated smoking. Everyone knows how health conscious I am. But I’d so anything to be true to my character. I don’t want to be called a dishonest actor.”
John had a tough time quitting the cancer stick after the film. “I had a cough and craving for months. Fortunately I was doing a complete health-friendly film Goal side by side. So things got kind of balanced out as they generally do for me,touch wood.”
Talk veers to John’s other favourite director. “Deepa Mehta was in Mumbai recently. Of course I met her although I’m not in her new film. I’d love to be in all her films. Would I do a guest appearance in her next Heaven On Earth with Preity in it?
Anytime. Deepa is like family. Who says there can’t be permanent relationships in this business? People are as genuine down here as you are to them.”