The truth about Salman Explosive Confessions
Salman Khan is content in his own league. It’s this quality that makes him so endearing.
Even if you’re carrying with you the excess baggage of a 20-year-long hostility, it’s one meeting with Salman that resolves it all. Because when Salman accepts you, he accepts you from the heart.
Over the last two weeks, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time with the superstar and it’s his child-like vulnerability that’s struck me the most. He may give the ‘I’m-casual-about-my-work’ vibe but there would be no compromises when it comes to his work – even if that means shooting all night long and traveling to two cities the following morning in a span of a few hours.
Salman lives for his friends and if need be, he would even go to war for them. He’s like that one a.m. friend who would drive down to town to be with you in your hour of need.
And that’s why when a friend lets him down it hurts him to the core. Sometimes impatient, sometimes temperamental and sometimes impulsive, the best part about him is that no act is rehearsed or planned. Salman Khan is what he is – there are no illusions or secrets here.
Meet the man who has wowed everyone with his stunning act in ‘Veer’. Once again, he’s proved that his phenomenal star power is simply unparalleled. Meet the industry’s most adored superstar in his most candid mood:
Hey Salman, your new film, ‘Veer’, has hit the screens. The opening has been huge, particular in the single screens. Are you happy with the response?
‘Veer’, as a film, is very close to my heart. It’s a subject I believed in strongly. I was just waiting for the right time to make it happen. What’s comforting is that the vision I had for this film finally came through. We didn’t compromise on any aspect – be it the casting, the production values or even the promotion. For the last three weeks, I’ve been busy with the publicity of the movie. It’s been intense. Earlier, all this would make me slightly uncomfortable but I realize today that it’s a part of my job. When you make a film that’s so huge in terms of its canvas, you have to make people aware of it in an equally big way. But it’s all cool now. Now it’s up to the people. I’ve done my bit.
Do you get affected by the reviews?
My job is over when the film is complete. What happens after that doesn’t bother me. Some of my previous films, which went on to become huge successes, didn’t get good reviews too. So it’s all good – eventually, it’s the love and affection of the fans that matters. With ‘Veer’, I just wish it was slightly trimmer in the second half. That was a suggestion I gave them. But eventually, that call has to be taken by the makers.
You told me sometime back that you don’t take your stardom seriously. Why?
I am an actor first; everything else comes later. My job is to give every role I portray my best shot. When you do good work and good films, people will shower their love on you. I don’t have any hang-ups at all. I like doing things my way. It’s when people take all these things seriously that they start becoming insecure. But believe me, everyone’s not like that. I’ll give you an example. When we were doing the casting for ‘Veer’, I had committed the father’s role to Jackie (Shroff). Later, they (the makers) wanted to sign Mithun Chakraborty for that same role. I called up Mithun da and informed him that I had committed to Jackie, and asked him if he would like to do the Sardar’s role. He said okay. In fact he said it would be a damn good thing for Jackie. But later, Jackie called me and said, ‘Paagal hain kya? Unko karne do. Woh karenge toh unpe achcha bhi lagega.” Then he asked me, “Doosra role kaunsa hain mere liye?” I said doosra wala villain ka hain. So Jackie said, “Woh mereko de.” What I’m trying to say is both of them were thinking for the betterment of the film. These are the kind of people I admire.
You’ve written the script of ‘Veer’. Are you going to continue writing now?
I have a new subject that I’m contemplating for now. It’s like an adventure thriller – maybe on the lines of ‘Congo’ and the ‘Indiana Jones’ series. It’s just a thought but I’m excited about it. That’s something I want to start working on. I’m of the opinion that films have to be larger-than-life. That’s what interests the audience. Nobody wants to hear a story that’s ordinary.
Like ‘Main Aur Mrs Khanna’, you mean?
We shouldn’t continue making films like ‘Main Aur Mrs Khanna’.
Why would you want to make a sweet film? If you want to make a film, you have to make it an extraordinary; otherwise don’t make it. Just sit back and party if you don’t have something unusual to tell the audience. What happens is that people calculate their time into money. But that’s not a
Do you think that’s one of the reasons why the film failed?
You know, a few days before the film’s release, we had kept a trial show of the film for my family. Mid-way through the film, Sohail’s son told him, “Papa, yeh boring film hain’. And that’s when I looked at Sohail and said, “Come let’s have a drink; the film is going to be a disaster.” Our own children are walking out during the interval. You know a film is a success when the children hold the hands of their parents and say, “We want to see that film.” When they do that, the parents have to take them so eventually you have five more people watching your film. Knowing all these things, we still go wrong in our decisions sometimes. That’s life, I guess.
You think the timing of the film’s release was also wrong? Didn’t it come too soon after ‘Wanted’?
That’s what I kept telling them. It was ‘Wanted’ followed by ‘Main Aur Mrs Khanna’ and then ‘London Dreams’ in quick succession. I mean, give the audience some time. I told them not to release these films so soon. We have to give the audience some time. Even I got bored of seeing myself. I was giving so many interviews that sometimes even I didn’t even know which film I was talking about. Families have to spend a lot of money when they go to see a film these days. When it becomes too much, they feel that they rather watch it on DVD. Anyway, the pirated DVDs come out on the day of release itself. So why would anyone take the effort? Sometimes, when you see a good decent film on TV, you wonder why it didn’t do well. Arre, tum log theatre nahi gaye, isliye nahi chali. Phookat ki picture achchi lagti hai.
Also, the action-star image of ‘Wanted’ was still fresh in people’s minds…
If I start taking the image of ‘Wanted’ seriously, I’ll beat ten people at the same time. When that happens, it’s the biggest downfall for any actor. You start believing in that image.
But ‘London Dreams’ was very lavish in comparison. What went wrong with that?
‘London Dreams’ was 25 minutes longer than it should have been. We had lot of discussions on this but they insisted they wanted to keep it that long. A film should be long only till the time it’s entertaining.
You think the cost of the film was a hindrance to the film’s success?
I don’t know how much the film cost, but it cost me a lot (laughs).
Salman, you’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the media. Has that changed now?
I don’t have a problem with what people write. But at least let it be the truth. If it’s true, it would hurt me but at some level, I would know it’s the truth. I have a problem when people fabricate stories and they don’t even bother to check.
You were also one of the heroes who had banned film magazines some years back.
Yes, I remember that (laughs). Mithun Chakraborty and almost the entire industry had joined hands to support it. I went for that meeting. During that time, there were some actors who had said that certain publications were nice to them so they should be exempted from the ban. I told Mithunda who was the President of the association, “Dada, why are you getting into this? Why should we spare a few magazines just because they have written nice things about some of us? They may be nice to some people but they have written bad things about somebody else.” When I explained to him, he asked me, “So what we should do then?” I said don’t make exceptions – everyone should be treated equally. You have to stand by these things.
But you cannot deny that you form opinions rather quickly. You have to give people a chance.
I form my opinions based on my experiences. And I don’t think that’s wrong. But yes, I know what you mean. You know, sometime back, I was passing through town and I saw this man without a leg begging on the street. We organized a pair of crutches for him. Then, one day, I was passing through the same spot again and I saw him hitting a small girl with the same crutches. I got down from my car and went up to him. I was really furious. Then he told me his story. He said he had been telling the girl for three days to stay away from cars. And on that day, a car almost went over her feet. He told me, “I know what it is like to live without a leg. I don’t want it to happen to her.” That’s why he was reprimanding her so she would understand. So you know,
in a matter of minutes, my opinion about him had changed. Such things happen sometimes.
You’re always doing these kinds of things with people in need. Yet, most of it goes unreported…
I don’t want to make a big deal about it. If you have to do something, you have to do it selflessly. The whole purpose of your act is diminished if you’re looking for some
returns. I don’t think I’m being philosophical; it’s just common sense. This is what I understand and this is what I do.
At a recent awards ceremony, you also gave the opportunity to a 15-year-old kid to choreograph your act…
(Laughs) Dude, he’s an immensely talented guy. He has that spark and he’ll go a long way. You know, I saw him doing a performance with his group at a mall, where I’d gone to attend a function. Later, I called him and asked him if he would choreograph my act on stage. And he did such a fantastic job. I’m thinking of using him for one of my films now. There is talent all around us. People just need the right opportunities.
Your next film will be ‘Dabanng’ and you’re working with a new director. Does that make you nervous?
‘Dabanng’ is being directed by Abhinav Kashyap and he really knows his job. The film is set in rural India and has a very grungy feel to it. It’s very real; very basic and very hard-hitting. I haven’t done anything like this before. When I read the script, I knew I had to do this film.
Salman, you’ve crossed 40 now and everyone wants to know when you’re getting married.
That’s a very sweet thing, which shows a lot of concern. Everybody’s really worried about my future. And so am I. But I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next five seconds. So when the time comes, people would know about it. You can’t say till the time the cards are printed and the wedding outfits are ready. That’s how particular I am.
You’ve been having problems with certain actors…
I don’t have problems; they
Don’t you go out of your way to make up with them?
If I don’t see eye-to-eye with that person and if our thinking doesn’t match, I leave it. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter to me. If God has put them into magnanimous positions then they must be having those qualities in them. That’s the reason why they are there and people like what they are doing. It’s the reason why they are respected and why they are so famous. After all, everybody is human. They don’t have the qualities that I have and vice versa.
But doesn’t it hurt you when you think of the past and the moments when you shared a special bonding with that special person?
That’s the reason why people don’t get along. If somebody abuses me on the street or if a dog barks at me when I’m driving, what should I do? Should I chase the dog running after him into the gully? When something goes wrong between friends, of course it hurts and that’s the reason why you don’t get along.
But there are certain actors you’ll never forgive?
The concept of ‘kisi bade aadmi ke saath tasveer kheecho, toh aap bhi bade ho jaoge’ doesn’t work with me. Some people feel that it is the fastest way to get success and fame. Let them be happy. I don’t care
When you look back, does it amuse you?
What amuses me is when journalists ask me, “Why are you misunderstood?” They come to me, interview me and then ask me the same question again the next time they meet me. The funny part is that during the release of every film, the questions remain the same. What’s the beauty of the film? What pranks did you play? Why should people go and watch this film? How’s your chemistry with the heroine? How was it working with the director? What’s the story of the film? How many times should I give the same answers? Earlier, we used to wait for a month for magazines like yours to come out, wondering ab kya chapke aane waala hai. But now, all that is happening every day in the papers or every hour on the news channels.
You have never tried to experiment with different kind of cinema? Are you happy in
If you want to spread a message, your theatres have to be full. If you want to make money, your theatres have to be full. Why would you want to experiment? In my genre, I do a lot of experimentation. I have done a film called ‘Hum Aapke Hain Kaun’; I have done films like ‘Partner’ or ‘Wanted’ or ‘Karan Arjun’, but within the entertainment format and the commercial format. Why would you want to depress people? They’re already depressed; upar se kyun unko aur depress karna?
*By Ashwin Varde