I have always felt to compare John Abraham with Bunuel. As Bunuel is unknown to the main stream movie goers, John is a totally ignored figure in Indian cinema. He had the strong command over his medium as Bunuel had. The themes of his movies can more or less be compared to that of Bunuel's. John was a social critic and his movies had a great lot of humor.
I remember seeing his film "Agraharathil Kazhuthai" in a special screening organized by a film club. A Brahmin brings a small donkey to an agrahara. Agrahara is the place where a few Brahmin families reside jointly, with all their prayers and that sought of things. At first everyone seems to avoid it but at the end, it becomes a local deity to those villagers. In parallel to this story, there is another of a maid servant, who is been cheated and gives birth to a dead baby.
Many critics have argued that the Donkey symbolized the Pope and some said it portrayed the prime minister. I remember reading an interview with John in which he said, movie is not a medium of symbolism. Donkey just portrayed a donkey. If you say it is pope, or it's the Prime minister or its John himself, I won't say anything. What I meant is a donkey only.
John had made only four films, and he met a very tragic death, while he was preparing his fifth. He was a full time wino and had lived a nomadic life. From the words of those who had lived and talked with John, I have felt that he possessed great altruistic love towards all. He would hug a prostitute in crowd and say, I am not doing this out of lust, but I love you. Every one else love you for the night…But I need you in this broad day light. Knowing Johns attitude towards women, I have felt that Agraharathil Kazhuthai is a strong film about the ill-treatment of women, particularly low class women in Indian society.
John had perfect mastery over his medium. We can feel the adeptness, from the beautiful shot composition and masterful camera work that resembles even Bunuel or Hitchcock in that respect. John had said-"I am the Hitler of my cinema". Obviously only few filmmakers from India can say that. Forgive me if its becoming more like a note on Johns biography.