Actors Akshay Kumar and John Abraham during the joint promotions of their upcoming films Mission Mangal and Batla House respectively, in Mumbai (Photo: IANS)
Actors Akshay Kumar and John Abraham during the joint promotions of their upcoming films Mission Mangal and Batla House respectively, in Mumbai (Photo: IANS)

Move over Akshay Kumar, John Abraham's the new face of patriotism

  • The two had also clashed last year on the 15 August holiday weekend with their movies Gold and Satyameva Jayate
  • The turn to a patriotic image certainly set cash registers ringing for John, with Parmanu and Satyameva Jayate clocking in 64.8 cr and 79.6 cr respectively

New Delhi: Both their films, Mission Mangal and Batla House, may be scheduled for this Independence Day but actors Akshay Kumar and John Abraham have more in common than just a release date. The two had also clashed last year on the 15 August holiday weekend with their movies Gold and Satyameva Jayate riding high on the patriotic, nationalist quotient, a template that the two have followed for a while now.

While Kumar is known for Baby, Airlift, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and Kesari, Abraham has followed suit with Madras Café, Force 2, Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran, Satyameva Jayate, Romeo Akbar Walter (RAW) and now Batla House.

“I think John personally has an affinity for roles that exude a certain amount of nationalism. But I wouldn’t say that he is limiting himself to only such roles but rather choosing his films carefully in terms of personal growth as an actor as well as commercial success for his producers," said Batla House director Nikkhil Advani.

To be sure, the commercial success has definitely helped Abraham who was going through a lean phase post 2010 with flops like Aashayein, Jhootha Hi Sahi, I, Me Aur Main and Rocky Handsome. The turn to a patriotic image certainly set the cash registers ringing, with Parmanu and Satyameva Jayate clocking in Rs. 64.81 crore and Rs. 79.61 crore respectively.

“I think patriotic films are generally working well given the overall mood of the nation, especially after the BJP came to power. This wasn’t the case a few years ago," said Atul Mohan, editor of trade magazine Complete Cinema attributing the success of this genre of films to an extent to the broader socio-political climate of the country.

Abraham’s RAW director Robby Grewal said the actor is fearlessly patriotic at heart, though he doesn’t like to talk about it (Photo: IANS)
Abraham’s RAW director Robby Grewal said the actor is fearlessly patriotic at heart, though he doesn’t like to talk about it (Photo: IANS)

These films dealing with poverty, corruption and anger of the common man have worked for decades, added Satyameva Jayate director Milap Jhaveri, right from the time of Amitabh Bachchan’s Angry Young Man image in the 1970s, because they connect with all strata of society.

“Physically too, John has that kind of a powerful personality, where he can say those lines and or fight those goons and audiences will believe and applaud," Jhaveri said.

Abraham’s RAW director Robby Grewal said the actor is fearlessly patriotic at heart, though he doesn’t like to talk about it. There is definitely a pattern to the themes in his recent films but that could also be because Abraham is looking for good scripts.

“Nationalism has definitely come to the fore in Hindi cinema given the sheer number of scripts that have caught the fancy of audiences and filmmakers alike. And it’s always good to make people aware of heroes from the past and present which both John and Akshay are talking about ," Grewal said.

Mohan said Abraham was following in the footprints of Kumar, who ironically, has now turned to more massy commercial entertainers, at least for the next few months. His upcoming releases include ensemble comedy Housefull 4, Dharma Productions’ romantic comedy Good News, horror comedy Laxmmi Bomb and a Sajid Nadiadwala production titled Bachchan Pandey. To be sure, even though the fate of his latest, Batla House remains to be seen, Abraham is also trying to experiment with other genres. His next release is director Anees Bazmee’s comedy Pagalpanti after which he will be seen in a gangster drama titled Mumbai Saga helmed by Sanjay Gupta.

“My experience with John is that he is extremely instinctive. Irrespective of what the majority consensus might be in the room, he needs to feel the story. He loves to say that he approaches his choices like an audience. He chooses what he would like to see himself," Advani said.

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