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Special Feature:
John Ibrahim After he completed Viruddh with Amitabh Bachchan:
'I have gained more acceptability in Big B's Heart'

Post-Viruddh, Amitabh and John are as comfortable together as peas in a pod.
John, who plays the son Amitabh loves and loses in Viruddh, talks with affection of the film he holds close to his heart. Excerpts:
You worked with Amitabh Bachchan in Aetbaar and now in Viruddh. What has been your experience? He makes me feel at home, he is a very chilled-out guy. Incidentally, I have two more films with Amitabh on the floor.

It must have been quite a change to play the son he dotes on in Viruddh after playing the bad guy in Aetbaar?
I have gained more acceptability in his heart now (laughs). As I said, I am doing more films with him. Currently, I am vying with Abhishek and Akshay Kumar for his onscreen affection!

Amitabh is known to get into the skin of his character. Have you tried to imbibe that from him?

Like him, I try my best to immerse myself in my character completely. For instance, if I am playing a brooding character, I keep to myself before a shot.

What special preparation did you make for your role in Viruddh?

Not much. In Viruddh, I play a good son who shares a warm rapport with his parents. I am a good son in real life also -- my mother will vouch for it -- so it was easy for me.

In Viruddh, you are working with the style icon of the 1960s and 1970s: Sharmila Tagore. Considering you are the acknowledged style icon of the current millennium, how did you hit it off?

Sharmila Tagore is a wonderful person. She is fun loving, sweet and cute. And she is still so very beautiful. It was a pleasure working with her because she is a stickler for time. She talks incessantly about her family; I enjoyed conversing with her.

What moments with her did you treasure from Viruddh?

In the film, Sharmila, who plays my mom, fires me all the time -- it reminded me of my equation with my mother. My mother always forces me to eat and gets upset if I don't eat as much as she thinks is right for me. My screen mom Sharmila Tagore does likewise in the film.

What is the X factor that made you choose Viruddh?

The story. It is sensitive and powerful.

With heavyweights like Amitabh, Sharmila, Sanjay Dutt in the film, is it possible for you to have good screen time?

In this movie, I am the narrator of the film so I am there from the first scene to the last. I tell people that I am omnipresent in Viruddh.

There was a time when producers preferred to get your voice dubbed. And now, your voice is considered good enough to make you the sutradhar of the film.

Can you believe it? I am using my own voice and that too with Mr Bachchan in the same frame! It gives me a very big kick. Nowadays, there are times when I dub one film a day. Viruddh took me two-and-a-half days to dub, six concentrated hours of dubbing in all.

Sanjay Dutt and director Mahesh Manjarekar share a close bond. Did you worry that you could probably be sidelined?

On the contrary, I was very happy that Sanju was a part of the film. I love watching Sanju on screen.

Viruddh is about Amitabh's opposition against the system. In real life what do you oppose and what issues do you espouse?

I am against red-tapism and bureaucracy. I am completely against cruelty to animals too.

Any special thoughts on Viruddh?

I hope in real life I never come across anybody who is in a situation similar as Amitabh in this film. Viruddh is a stark and real film. I can proudly invite half a dozen people and declare: 'Watch this film.'

What dictates the choice of your films today? Big banners, big directors or the moolah?

I have never consciously chosen commercially successful set-ups. How else do you explain the fact that most of the directors I have worked with till today have been first time directors? I go by my gut feelings, my instinct.

What next after Viruddh?

I have just finished shooting for a comedy with Priyadarshan, starring Akshay Kumar and Paresh Rawal. I am going to wear my hair short for Milind Luthria's Taxi Nau Do Gyarah in which I rub shoulders with Nana Patekar.
I have an important role in Deepa Mehta's Water (it was earlier called River Moon) which will open at the prestigious Toronto Film Festival. It is a very important film for me and I hope it reaches out to audiences all over the world. In fact, for the first time my fans will get to see me in a dhoti in Water!


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