Karan had almost convinced John to do the role. He even promised that the husband’s role in the Indian Stepmom would be far more substantial than what Ed Harris did in the original. But John is at a stage in his career where he wants to make all the right career moves. He feels as an outsider in the industry he has made a place that must be respected. For any actor, at some point there comes a time when making choices is inevitable. You keep running away from it as long as you can but when the force strikes you, taking a stand sometimes cuts the fine line that separates discretion and conceit. It becomes worse when you’ve got to do that with someone you’ve known for a long time.
John is finally learning to say no to projects even if they come from big banners. In Dostana, he went along with the sales-pitch that Abhishek was the ‘actor’ while John was the ‘body’. The Karan-John friendship goes back a long way. At a time when the actor was going through a low, Karan rewarded him by signing him on for ‘Kaal’. He didn’t direct it but Karan took all the creative calls. And even when the film didn’t do well, Karan promised John that he would offer him something even better in times to come.
That’s also one of the reasons why John agreed to do a fleeting appearance in ‘Kabhie Alvida Na Kehna’. Their camaraderie bloomed even as John made appearances on Karan’s television show, thereby re-emphasising the fact that their bonding was undeniable. And then, Karan gave John a role that was tailor-made for the actor in ‘Dostana’.
John didn’t really mind it when he wasn’t paid his market price for ‘Dostana’. Like a close friend of the actor reveals, “Everyone knows how much John charges. He is very particular about his money and there are very few times when he makes any exceptions. But for Karan and ‘Dostana’, he went out of his way. That’s because firstly, he liked the subject and his role very much and secondly, he had that rapport with Karan too. He knew he couldn’t demand his regular price from Karan; that would have been unreasonable.”
‘Dostana’ was sold at a whopping price to Yash Raj but none of the actors (including Abhishek Bachchan) who had worked at ‘reduced rates’ were compensated in any way even though the on-the-table profits for Karan itself were monumental. John was aware of this but he never made any issues about it. In retrospect, it looks like he was just waiting for his turn to strike back.
And it happened soon enough when Karan began work on the one project he’s been itching to make for a long time now. The movie is the desi version of ‘Stepmom’ and Karan went ahead and signed Kajol (for Susan Sarandon’s part) and Kareena Kapoor (for Julia Roberts’ role) for the lead roles.
Karan wanted to get the film rolling as soon as possible and he then approached John for the role. When he first heard the revised script, John expressed his reservations about the part.
Says our source, “He told Karan that the hero had nothing much to do. Karan insisted that they would make certain additions to the part but John wasn’t convinced. Now there are only two reasons that make an actor sign any film – either the role or the money. When John realized the role wasn’t great, he asked Karan for his market price. And that’s where all the trouble started.”
Karan seemed shocked at John’s demands and couldn’t get over it. But like an insider puts it, “Why should John continue doing him favours? If Karan has helped him, John has also given him enough concessions too. At some level, this had to stop.” The filmmaker was more disillusioned also because he had gone out of his way to convince both Kajol and Kareena to work opposite John.
Kajol believed the role needed a stronger actor while Kareena was hesitant at first because of the cold vibes she shares with John. But on Karan’s insistence, they both had agreed to work with him. Now, Karan was in a soup because John himself was making demands that were not acceptable to him. This has caused a considerable strain in their personal friendship as well.
Karan now believes John has become too bigheaded while the actor feels Karan has been taking him for granted all along. It’s even more disturbing for Karan because the movie that he wanted to start off immediately has been delayed until he finds another actor who’s ready to play second fiddle to two heroines.
For John, it also means saying goodbye to his dreams of working in ‘Dostana 2’, which he was very keen to be a part of which is why when someone asked him recently about ‘Dostana 2’, the actor said, “I know the film is definitely happening but I don’t know if I’m a part of it.” It’s possible that the message has been passed on to him, loud and clear. It also brings us to the much-hyped subject of ‘filmi friendships’. Is there any credence to them when all that keeps them alive is the desperate and material need for give and take?