Ear-splitting screams welcomed the cast and crew of Bollywood film Welcome Back, who are filming in Dubai, and dropped in to speak to guests at DIFF.
The cast and crew of Bollywood blockbuster Welcome Back, including stars John Abraham and Anil Kapoor, dropped in for an “In Conversation Session” at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) on Friday.
Also present were director Anees Bazmee, producer Firoz Nadiadwala, actor Nana Patekar and actresses Surveen Chawla and Ankita Srivastava.
Kapoor received a few compliments for being dapper and fitness-conscious at an advanced age (around 57, heaven forbid) but the ear-splitting screams were reserved for Bollywood hunk John Abraham – who has not been shy about exposing his torso in films like Dostana, or playing it for laughs in Desi Boyz and Housefull 2.
When he’s not doing the fun stuff, Abraham also likes to produce and sometimes star in small and “serious” films such as Madras Café, about the Sri Lankan civil war, and Vicky Donor, about sperm donation. “I liked Argo – and Madras Café is also inspired by true-life incidents that impacted me when I was young,” Abraham said in a lull between screams. “But I also like films that make you laugh. It’s important to do all kinds of cinema and not to judge.”
Welcome Back is also a comedy – or more specifically a gangster comedy – that has been 90% filmed in Dubai over two schedules. It’s a sequel to Bazmee’s 2007 Welcome, which starred Kapoor, Patekar and Akshay Kumar, and was also mostly filmed in Dubai.
Kapoor, also known to Western audiences for his role in TV series 24, is a regular at DIFF, which he’s attended with films including Mister India, Slumdog Millionaire and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – which also filmed in Dubai with Kapoor in the cast.
“Dubai is like a home away from home for me and I love the festival – the people organising it are very hospitable and really look after you,” Kapoor said. “I’ve been to many festivals, but this is the warmest and happiest I’ve been to.”
When Bazmee compared the shoot of Welcome Back to Kapoor’s experience on Mission Impossible 4, Patekar brought the house down by joking: “His MI part was so big that while an uneducated man like myself was busy reading the subtitles, Anil’s role had come and gone.”
Kapoor took it in good grace: “No role is too big or too small – only an actor is.”
Nadiadwala said he’d first filmed in Dubai 20 years ago: “It was a very different place when I first came here in ’95 but it’s always been a place where the government encourages you. Ever since then, it’s been changing and progressing, and every six months there is something new, which is a dream for cinema people.”