Twist with Travolta

Twist with Travolta

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In his heydyas, he is known to have given his fans Saturday Night Fever. Mitrajit Bhattacharya tries to figure out the enigma called John Travolta

John Travolta

Actor, dancer, pilot, all rolled into one, John Travolta, the biggest musical star of our times, known to spawn an entire generation of imitators around the world, was in Mumbai recently for the launch of Breitling’s Navitimer.

The star of superhits like Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Pulp Fiction, Look Who’s Talking, Face Off has a five-year-old association with watch major Brietling. Since 1884, Breitling has been making watches, majority of them targeting ace pilots like Travolta.

Travolta came to Mumbai on his Boeing 707 from Florida and was to fly to Moscow. He was accompanied by his extended family, barring wife Kelly Preston, who is expecting. Presenting excerpts of a short  Q & A with the entertainer extraordinaire.

Who is the real John Travolta – actor, singer or pilot?
My skill sets complement each other. Different facets of my personality help shape each other.

You got your first pilot’s license at the young age of 19. How did you develop an interest in flying?

I spent most of my childhood flying. My family was involved in show business. So, I was constantly going to the airport to either see them off or pick them up. As a family, we used to travel all over America to catch Broadway shows. I just love being in the air. Arriving in Mumbai, I was very impressed with the hustle and bustle of the buzzing Mumbai airport. The whole world was asleep, but the airport was so alive!

You have 10 commercial flying licenses and five aircraft. Which is your favourite aircraft?
This one’s difficult to answer. It depends on my mood. Sometimes it’s fun to be on a huge jet while sometimes it’s fun to be on a two-seater microlight. In short, I love all of them. The most important thing is to be up in the skies. It’s an indescribable feeling!

Your home at Ocala, Florida is on a runway. How does it feel waking up in the morning and seeing planes?
Wonderful! Some people get a high staying beside a river or a sea. I feel the same way watching planes in my backyard. Sometimes when I get up in the morning and don’t find planes parked outside, I miss them.

In 2007 your musical Hairspray released, nearly 32 years after the hugely successful Grease. Why did it take you so long to come up with a musical again?
It’s difficult to make a musical in today’s time and age in Hollywood. In 1950s, there was a craze for such films. At present, Shirley MacLaine, Barbra Streisand and myself are the only actors who can be part of musicals. I like your Bollywood films since song and music are an
integral part of them.

How does it feel to be Breitling’s watch ambassador?
I am proud and happy because Breitling makes good aviation watches for pilots like me. In fact, I have been using Breitling watches much before I signed on as an
Ambassador with them.

As a pilot, how useful do you find aviation watches to be?
Well, it’s a good back up. The cockpit of my jet is equipped with the latest instruments. In case something goes wrong with them, I can always fall back on my aviation watch. Speed, direction and fuel position of the plane can be ascertained with the help of these watches.