Salman Khan is no longer just the spin-doctor of his own projects. Known to be a very active and dominant force behind his films, the Dabanng hero has now taken charge of Telugu actor Ramcharan Teja’s Bollywood debut in Apoorva Lakhia’s remake of the 1973 Amitabh-Jaya hit Zanjeer. Ramcharan, who this week got married to Upasana Kamineni, is Hyderabad superstar Chiranjeevi’s son; and Salman and Chiranjeevi are known to be close friends.
Last week Salman reportedly had a dinner meeting at his Galaxy Apartments residence in Mumbai with Ramcharan and Apoorva where he suggested some radical changes in the Zanjeer remake, including the way Priyanka Chopra’s character was to be packaged and portrayed. That Salman has taken Ramcharan under his wings is known, but how much he is investing in his new protégé from Hyderabad in terms of time and professional advice is a revelation to trade sources in Bollywood.
At the meeting to discuss ways to reinvent and contemporize Zanjeer, Salman – whose father Salim Khan co-wrote the original Zanjeer – gave Ramcharan and Lakhia tips that are now being reportedly incorporated in the film. According to a source, Salman astutely compared the new and old Zanjeers. The first suggestion he made was to include songs for Ramcharan’s character. In the original, Inspector Vijay Khanna (Amitabh Bachchan) was too serious a man to sing and dance. But Salman, who sang and danced his way to success as a cop in Wanted and Dabanng, wanted that to change. He is reported to have told Ramcharan, “You’re one of the best dancers in South Indian cinema. It would be silly not to have you sing and dance.”
Then Salman made many important suggestions about how to bring in a much larger glamour quotient to Priyanka’s character. He felt her character as Mala, the chaaku-churiyawali, could be a lot more attractive. His suggestions included changes in her clothes, styling, songs and choreography. Since Priyanka doesn’t start shooting for Zanjeer until October, her character is reportedly being revamped as per Salman’s suggestions. Apparently, Salman even suggested a hot sizzling item number for Priyanka in the Zanjeer remake.
The question being asked by curious trade pundits is why is Salman taking such a keen interest in Ramcharan’s Bollywood debut? Is it because he feels protective of the 27-year-old son of his friend who has just done four Telugu films? Or is it because Zanjeer was co-written by his father and Salman feels somewhat proprietorial about the project? The answer is both. But Salman especially feels Ramcharan’s future in Bollywood is his personal responsibility.