Abraham was born in Mumbai to a Malayali father and a Parsi mother. His father is an architect from Alwaye, Kerala; his mother is named Phiroza Irani. Abraham's Parsi name is "Farhan" while his father being a Syrian Christian named him "John". He has a younger brother, Alan.
He studied economics at the Bombay Scottish School, Mahim in Mumbai and got his MBA from the Mumbai Educational Trust (MET).
Abraham started his modelling career appearing in the music video of the song "Surma" by Punjabi singer Jazzy B. He then joined the media firm Time & Space Media Entertainment Promotions Ltd., which, however, closed because of financial problems. Later, he worked for Enterprises-Nexus as a media planner.
Abraham made his acting debut with Jism (2003), a thriller film which, according to Box Office India, was "above average" grossing 13,25,00,000. During filming, Abraham and co-star Bipasha Basu started dating each other.
Nikhil Advani's multi-starrer Salaam-e-Ishq: A Tribute to Love was Abraham's first release in 2007. The movie failed to do well at the Indian box office, though it did well in the overseas markets. His last two 2007 releases included the arthouse thriller No Smoking and the sports film Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal.
His first release of 2009 was another much awaited production by Yash Raj Films, New York. The film was a critical and commercial success. It followed the lives of three best friends after the September 11 attacks in New York City.