Happy birthday John Abraham! You bring so much joy to the world in so many ways, let us all celebrate!
You know that really hot guy you kind of know from work/class/the coffee shop you go to? And how you are kind of distracted and giggly and shy around him, and think of him just in terms of his body? But then you overhear him say something and realize that along with being really hot, he is also super nice and kind of smart and just a good person? And it’s like too much to handle, that someone can both be super super hot and a nice guy so you let him go like the magical flower he is and are happy from a distance when you see him living a good life?
That’s John Abraham. He looks dropdead unbelievable gorgeous with a body that won’t quit and a smile that lights up a room. And also, he has a masters in business, runs his own modestly successful production house, married a “normal” woman who works in finance and hasn’t given up her job for him, and likes to go around in casual t-shirts and jeans when he’s not working. Oh, and he builds houses with Habitat for Humanity under a group called “John’s Brigade”, for the past 13 years.
But I’m not here to talk about his charitable work, business sense, or life as a supportive spouse. No, I am here to talk about what we shall call his “public persona”. Or, to put it another way, “John as the man allergic to shirts”.
Of course there is also another John the public knows, “John the man who smiles at you and it feels like being dipped in warm molasses”
Okay, now I am going to give you 3 VERY HARD questions:
If you could only pick one, would you go for John’s body or his smile?
Out of all the smile photos, which is your favorite?
Out of all the body photos, which is your favorite?
And BONUS! If you are into this kind of thing, here is a quick fanfic outline that Angie and I just wrote together, for when John FINALLY returns to his “supportive love interest in female lead film” roots:
We open with an intercut flash back. Sanya, leaving her family home, and promising her grasping relatives that she will send them money back. But they don’t care, they are focused on how her father was unlucky and brought same to the family, and now she is doing the same, 24 and still not married, a spinster teacher, go to the big city and humiliate them even more. Sanya keeps it all inside and doesn’t show how she is feeling, but cries when she is on the train. Meanwhile, John is a cricket star! He is on Team India and the crowd is cheering for him. But then he is hit by a ball and knocked out and taken to the hospital. He begs the doctor to tell him when he can play again, is he cleared to go back now, he feels fine. But the doctor shakes his head and says, “John, I don’t think you can play again”.
And then in the present, Sanya Malhotra is a sad lonely teacher in Bombay. She is trying to make as much money as possible in order to pay back her father’s debts, and so takes a job tutoring a student in a teaching program. That student is, of course, John Abraham. He is handsome and nice, and also famous, a former Cricket player now retired and trying to finish his teaching degree, and Sanya is immediately so shy and scared that she can barely function. Until her mentor suggests she try to think of John like one of her little students from her children’s classes, instead of a big scarey man. Sanya begins giving him gold stars when he does well and lots of positive reinforcement, and even had him do little silly things like singing a rhyme to remember something, or taking “wiggle breaks” in the middle of studying.
But then John starts to subtly take control back, says that instead of gold stars, he wants friendship as a reward. He’s lonely (the poor man!) and wants someone to see Bombay with him. Sanya falls for his sad story, and believes it is her duty as his teacher to encourage him. So she agrees to go to the beach with him and have ices, and fly a kite, and when her hair blows loose in the wind and she starts to put it back, he grabs her hand to stop her and tells her “you look beautiful like that”. As a grand finale, once he passes his final exams, she agrees to go out with him to celebrate. He buys her a pretty dress, and convinces her to leave her hair down, and takes her to a fancy restaurant with western style dancing. But in the middle of their magical meal, John gets a phone call. It’s his doctor!!!! Telling him that the tests confirmed what he told him before, it’s getting worse. He needs to come in for the operation as soon as possible. John looks through the doorway at smiling Sanya and asks, “just one more week doctor, one more week”. The doctor tells him no, he’s already delayed long enough, it’s time. John says, “but if I have the operation…” The doctor cuts in and reminds him “you won’t walk again. But at least you’ll be alive. Try to find something to live for.”
Meanwhile at the table, Sanya ordered “alcohol” from the waiter to keep her courage up and is a little tipsy by the time John returns. She insists on dancing with him, and then taking a carriage ride home. John takes her to her sad lonely apartment, because she is too tipsy to be alone, and sees a photo of her father. Sanya tells him how her father killed himself, and how she is so mad at him, that there is so much good to live for, why couldn’t he have seen that and just kept going, no matter how hard it got? John, clearly, is struck by this idea. And then Sanya, a little sobered up from talking about her father, asks John if she can ask him to teach her something. She never learned how to kiss. John can’t resist kissing her and soon they are embracing, and then moving to the bedroom. John stares at her with his heart in his eyes, Sanya wonderingly reaches out to touch his face and draw him down to her, and then his phone rings. He sees that it is the doctor and is brought back to reality, and instead gently tucks Sanya in, and softly kisses her lips, and tells her “I’ll see you tomorrow.” Sanya wakes up the next morning to find a note on her table, swooningly romantic, all about how John thought of her as just his funny teacher at first, but then he started to look forward to his lessons as the high point of his week, how he almost dropped out of the program but kept going just so he could have an excuse to see her, and so on and so forth. And next to it is the gift he planned to give her that night, a gold necklace of stars, one for each star sticker she gave him. But, he says, he realized last night they can’t be together, he has a commitment that is going to keep them apart forever, so this is good-bye, he wants her to have a good life.
Before Sanya can process all of this, she gets a call from her pushy cousin ordering her home for a family wedding. She goes to the wedding, wearing the necklace, and is bright and beautiful and everyone is stunned by the change in her. And at the wedding, Unni Mukundun notices her, and offers a proposal to her family (without her knowing). Sanya returns to Bombay having made up her mind to find John, but he has disappeared. He hasn’t returned to school since sitting for his last tests, his apartment is all closed up, no one knows where he is. And that is when her pushy cousin arrives to stay and offer the Unni proposal. Sanya tells her cousin part of the story, and her cousin declares that John surely wasn’t serious, not a big Cricket star like that with a dowdy little teacher, he was just being nice. But Unni is a good boy with a good job and isn’t even asking for dowry, the family would be so proud and happy if she married him. Sanya, before she knows what is happening, ends up trapped into this wedding. But in the middle of preparation she gets a call from the school secretary, John still hasn’t returned but they got a request for his graduation certificate from a hill country school in Kerala.
Sanya lies to her family and Unni that she has to go on a pilgrimage before marriage and instead tracks John down at his school. She finds him sitting behind a desk grading papers, with a woman standing next to him. He rejects her, firmly, tells her that his life has moved on and she has no place in it. Sanya leaves, managing to hold back the sobs until she is out the door. At which point John lets his face show his own torment as he pushes back from the desk to reveal HE IS IN A WHEELCHAIR!!!!! The sympathetic woman tells him he shouldn’t have done that, that poor girl thinks they are together when in fact she is just his cousin and only living relative who convinced him to join her at her charity school in their home village. And anyway, the doctor said “you can still be married and have children” (wink wink, nudge nudge), even if the nerves to his legs are permanently cut in the surgery to remove the tumor. But John, nobly smiling through tears, tells her that Sanya deserves a better husband than some broken down man in a wheelchair. He is happy doing good in the world and living life through the children he teaches.
Sanya sadly prepares for her marriage in Bombay, putting on the gorgeous jewelry and sari and so on as a sad song plays. While she is preparing, an old woman comes in, her teacher from her childhood school who inspired her to teach. Sanya touches her feet and takes her blessing, and the old woman tells her how proud she is of her, how she knows the good she is doing, because the woman just got a letter from one the trustees at her charity schools telling about a teacher they have who has a photo of Sanya up in his classroom and gives her credit for teaching him what it means to teach others. What’s really remarkable is that this teacher is himself IN A WHEELCHAIR!!!! It takes Sanya a minute to put it together, she is walking out to the wedding fire, Unni is standing waiting for her, when suddenly she understands! She stands up and walks away from the fire, her family yells and chases, she turns back and sincerely tells Unni “I’m sorry” and then dramatically removes all the family jewelry, leaving only the simple star necklace John gave her and runs out. Ending is John in his village mountain school dismissing his adorable classroom of children and then wheeling himself out on the porch to look at the approaching rain, when a figure in the distance raises her umbrella to reveal herself to be Sanya (still in wedding garb). John is stunned, can only stumble out the words “I thought you were to be married”. Sanya smiles confidently and comes forward saying “I still am. If you will have me”.
End credits, with the sweet wedding ceremony playing out, Sanya on John’s lap as he wheels the chair around the fire, and Sanya pushing him for the final lap. And then some brief softly lit glimpses of them in bed together to confirm (just in case you were worried) that the doctor was correct and John can still “be a husband”. HAPPY ENDING.