John Abraham and Varun Dhawan in new police drama

(From left) Varun Dhawan, Jacqueline Fernandez and John Abraham on the Dishoom promotional trail
(From left) Varun Dhawan, Jacqueline Fernandez and John Abraham on the Dishoom promotional trail

Action comedy Dishoom is a thriller revolving around two mismatched police officers trying to rescue India’s star batsman before a crucial match against Pakistan.

John Abraham plays a no-nonsense, maverick investigator while Varun Dhawan portrays a smart-talking rookie cop who is determined to learn the ropes.

Shot at exotic locations, the big-budget film also sees the comeback of acclaimed actor Akshaye Khanna after a four-year absence, and Jacqueline Fernandez in an unpredictable role. The impressive team behind Dishoom includes big-thinking producer Sajid Nadiadwala and director Rohit Dhawan.

Not surprisingly Varun and John were in good spirits on Dishoom’s promotional trail, and the chemistry they have generated in the film’s trailer was evident in real life too.

Both your characters in Dishoom have a lot of swag. Tell us about that?

Varun: I think it’s just about the attitude the director asked us to have. (My character) Junaid and Kabir are very different people and their characteristics are quite distinct. Kabir is hardcore and a loose cannon while Junaid is a rookie cop, who is very eager to learn and wants to be part of everything. As Junaid I am trying to be hardcore, but inside I have a lot of insecurities and reservations. At the same time, I want to look cool, that’s why I have the bulldog and stuff.

This looks like an intense film and Varun, you are a newcomer. Did you have to do any special preparations?

Varun: My character is very honest and really wants to be a good police officer. I had actually never held a gun in a film, so first I had to learn that, and there was training for it. The more important preparation was that I’m playing an Emirati cop based in Abu Dhabi, in the UAE, so I had to kind of learn a little Arabic. I had to perfect the language and the way cops speak over there. It is quite different from the cops in Mumbai, but luckily the police did help us a lot and I got to spend time with them. How they go about their day-to-day life, how they keep people in check.

Where the comedy is concerned, I think it is in the way the lines are written. Rohit is good with comedy, so those things came about naturally.

The film seems very close to your hearts. Is there any one moment that was special for you?

John: I think all of us just coming together is fantastic. This is my second film with Sajid and he has grown to be more of a friend. I can confidently say I am really close to him today. Rohit is like my little brother, and I’m coming back with him after Desi Boyz.

With Varun and I, what you saw in the trailer, we are the same off-screen with our chemistry. He is absolutely fantastic. Jackie (Fernandez), of course, I have worked with before and she is a sweetheart.

I have been a huge fan of Akshaye (Khanna), so the fact that he’s in this film means so much to me. He is a fantastic actor. The entire team is good together, so it just feels nice to be in this film. It is very special and it comes from the heart – we’re not forcing a line here.

Varun, it must have been even more special for you because Rohit is your elder brother?

Varun: Honestly, it is super emotional for me. He is my brother and my hero in real life. I remember when Desi Boyz was released, I went to every theatre to find out what the audience reaction was. It is different from my film being released or my father’s [David Dhawan] film coming out or a friend’s movie. I can’t really put it in words how it feels – when your own blood gives his life to make something special. I believe that when making a film, there needs to be one person who is obsessive and wants to give it their all. That was Rohit. I am proud his madness has made this film work and that’s what you see on screen. It’s all him.

John, you are a non-smoker in real life, but your character smokes a lot in Dishoom. Why is that?

John: Good question. I asked Rohit the same thing, but he said the character is very important and comes first, and I had to play him as a smoker. We are not encouraging smoking in this film, very clearly. But it is his character, he is a chain smoker and there are many scenes in the film that are relevant
to his smoking and a lot of people telling him it’s a bad habit.

It seems you are doing a lot of action movies, John. When will we see you doing more comedies again?

John: I don’t know. I think we will cross that bridge when we come to it. It is too early to say right now. But in the future, for sure.

Varun, there were reports you got badly hurt during production. What can you tell us about that?

Varun: (Laughs) The injury happened while I was running. There was one shot where I had to leap over a car. It was around 38C-40C and we were not getting the perfect take. He [Rohit] is such a perfectionist, and we kept doing it again and again and again. While jumping over the car, my finger got stuck between the bonnet of the car and the other side. It was very hot as well and because of that pain, I got heatstroke. I don’t think I fainted, but Rohit claims I did.

John: We had a lot of fun and there is great action. I think the action sequences are very large in the film. It is on a huge scale.

Is there a negative reference to Pakistan?

Varun: I would like to clear this up. There is no negative reference at all of Pakistan or against any community. In fact, what we are trying to show is that for certain people, sometimes money is the religion, not being an Indian, Pakistani, Hindu, Muslim, Christian or whatever. Money is sometimes the biggest motive behind things and people get fooled into thinking religion is the reason. In today’s day and age, at least in the capitalist world that we live in, money is the biggest driving force for most crimes, I feel.

The trailer ends with both of you in your underwear. What was shooting that like?

Varun: (Laughs) It was good.

John: (Laughs) He was with me, so it was going to be a great experience.

Varun: I go to sleep in my underwear and I wake up every day in my underwear. Whatever happens in between I can’t talk about right here, right now. On set it was fine. There was a nice breeze blowing and my brother John was there and was a good inspiration.

John: We looked at each other.

Varun: We were happy!

John, why didn’t we see your backside like in some of your other films?

Varun: (Laughs) Yes, why didn’t we?

John: Every time I tried to pull my pants down, Varun pulled it back up again.

Varun: I said, youngsters will be watching the film.

John, you tackle bad guys on screen and now trolls on social media. How do you feel about tackling people online?

John: I don’t think anybody has any boundaries today on social media. There’s nothing like honesty on the net, in any case. All you guys have become brave on the net because no one has a face. So it is fantastic to combat faceless people, most of the time. Congratulations to everyone on social media!

Finally, will Dishoom will be turned into a franchise?

John: When I heard the script, I told Sajid and Rohit was that it will go up to Dishoom 8. This is a young action adventure franchise. Kabir and Junaid will find new problems and move to different places. It’s going to be fun and a great franchise.

Dishoom will be in cinemas next Friday (July 29).