John Abraham talks about being sexy and edgy, and the severe action sequences which broke his bones and made him cry in Race 2, that also stars Saif Ali Khan, John Abraham, Deepika Padukone, Jacqueline Fernandez, Anil Kapoor and Ameesha Patel.
You have performed Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in Race 2, something you have not done before...
When I was offered Race 2, it reminded me of Dhoom (2004) minus the bikes. I missed the bikes, but the mind-blowing action in Race 2 makes up for it. I had to practice MMA with stunt director Peter Hein. Two Vietnamese fighters — Son and Tun — coached me for two months to get my kicks, flexibility and agility right. When I started rehearsing, for the first few days, I had tears in my eyes as my body went through excruciating pain. I'd scream dao (it means pain in Viatnamese), but they pushed me. I almost lost faith in myself, but didn't give up.
What kept you going?
I want to set a certain benchmark for raw action in Bollywood. I believe in stunts that are real and believable. I've done a cage fight in the movie without cables. This is my item song for Race 2 ! I have fought with a 300-pound South African professional fighter, Andrew, in the film. He was a sweet, docile guy otherwise, but once he entered the ring, I had to fight to save my life. The reality of action is very evident when you see us bashing each other's guts out. You can tell it's not fake.
Given the intensity of the fight, the injuries must be severe...
My back was bleeding, I had a 14-inch gash. I cracked my shin bone and navicular bone in the ankle area. I had to take a two-week break from action. My orthopedic surgeon joked about putting me on a retainership in his hospital, given the number of times I visited him.
You work hard on your body...
I train and eat differently for every film. My body is like a machine. When you are muscled, achieving flexibility is not easy. I've still managed a split and 145-degree kicks in the film. Sylvester Stallone has been a great influence. He defies age.
From a sexy guy to an action hero, are you changing your territory?
I look at myself as a commodity. Cinema is a visual medium. I want to draw a balance between my sex appeal and the rawness of the stunts I perform. I like being edgy. Normal is boring. It's all about attitude; you either have it or you don't. I play an anti-hero in Race 2. Bad has never looked so good.
Race 2, produced by Tips Industries Ltd and UTV Motion Pictures, releases on January 25.