Superstar Salman Khan is indeed larger than life. But he insists he isn’t! In a free-wheeling conversation with Lita Chakraborty, he chats about life, films and more
He is one of Bollywood’s biggest superstars. In fact, if you spot him at any event or press conference accompanied by his large entourage, including his beefed-up bodyguard Shera, you can’t help but be impressed by his overwhelming persona. That’s the Dabangg actor for you – super suave, dynamic and larger than life. In fact, this is one actor whose popularity barely gets affected by rumours, controversies or even how his films ‘race’ ahead or not at the box-office. Hits or flops, zillions of his besotted fans love their Bhai no matter what.
…But there’s so much more to the Sultan than just his swag. In fact, on a normal day, meeting him on his home ground, Salman Khan is indeed a revelation. Without his trademark swag or the famous Khan sauciness, he is warm, grounded and an amazing story-teller.
In fact, he starts off by flashing a picture of a humongous python found at his farmhouse, quipping, “See what I live with”. Supposedly, the python was making a meal of the rabbits at his farmhouse, but thankfully, the forest officials caught up with the errant thief and relocated him in his natural environment in the forest. Salman concurs, “Living around nature is so enjoyable.” Animatedly revealing how he had pushed the BMC on World Environmental Day to plant fruit trees all around Bandra, he adds, “When we were kids, we would go hunting for fruit trees so that we could give lunch a miss and instead feast on fruits. I wanted the kids of today to enjoy that experience too hence I advocated fruit trees being planted.” Nice.
Seeing that Salman had let his guard down more than a wee bit, I try to probe more about Salman, the man rather the superstar! Excerpts from the interview:
You are the man with the Midas touch. Though you have had your share of ups ‘n’ downs, you are still considered to be a hit machine. What makes you one?
No, there’s no Midas touch. It is just that we have worked hard and the way we thought or executed our films have turned out right. But it’s not really a win-win situation because it can also be a little dicey as if you don’t touch Rs 250 crore, they term the film as a disaster. (laughs) So, it’s a big wicket to be on.
But hits and flops don’t really touch you, do they? Fans still love you no matter what. How do your films connect with them in such a massive way?
See, the advantage is that I am my father’s son. My father used to be one of the best screenplay writers in the country. So I know what touches the audience and what gets their reactions. I observe and I know that my language and their (the audience) language is not very different. So I know what they want to see, the emotions they want to watch and what kind of films they want to view. It is like when I was growing up and even today, I want to watch films on heroism. I want to see a film on friendship and togetherness. So there you have your main theme and to that, you add your messages, your twists and turns, action and songs and everything…
I believe that once you enter the theatre, you should have a blast and when you come out of the theatre, you should want to be the hero of the film. You should relate to the character. So that is what I keep in mind all the time and that is integral in my films.
But it’s not just by your films, you too touch lives. You are involved in a lot of charity work…
See, this is the way we have always been brought up. This is the way we are in real life… and we don’t know how to be any other way at all. But now they term it as ‘being generous’. But it is a normal thing to be polite, to be respectful or to help somebody. You meet somebody and if you see they are troubled, you automatically say, ‘Can we help?’ It’s normal. But today, you are complimented when you do that. It’s really strange.
Earlier, when I was growing up, it was a done thing ke aaeyein main apke liye yeh kar deta hun, woh kursi deta hun, ke paani piyoge aap, ke kya problem hai? It’s not only me, it’s my family, my childhood friends, their family… they are all like that. In fact, before you ask for help, they’ll see your expression and ask, ‘What is wrong, baba?’
But, today, strangely this is termed as being a ‘good’ guy and has become a big deal. Seriously, we need to have some amount of compassion in life. Helping people should be the done thing. It should be taken as that, but no, today we do a small gesture and they say, he’s a great guy. What great guy? It’s no big deal!
Do you think that the craze for film stars – that was there earlier – like putting them on a pedestal – has gone down because of social media?
Yes, definitely! See earlier there was an intrigue. Fans wanted to know the way a star lived, what he ate and what he is as a person so that intrigue used to be there. Today, everything is out there in the open. You come out of the bathroom, post a picture. You are on a flight, another picture and it’s on insta immediately. You will never see me doing things like that!
You have done mainly action films of late like Tiger Zinda Hai, Race 3… When are we seeing you next in a full-fledged romantic film?
g Today an action film without romance cannot work. You see Tiger Zinda Hai, it is a love story, Race 3 with all the action and stuff, has the same thing. Every film has to have a love story. So in that way, I am doing romantic films too.
How do you balance your professional and personal life?
This is what I do, this is my life. This is my profession, my hobby so I don’t get bored and pakaoed with that. So I am happy doing this… What is there to balance? It’s something I enjoy!
…And when you just want to chill out?
g But this is what I do to chill. Apart from interviews – which I hate – everything that I’m doing is chilling!
Salman Khan as a hero is larger than life. As a human being, what are you like?
I am just like everybody else. The screen image that people see of me – I may be just 10-15 per cent of that but that’s enhanced by the love and admiration I get from the fans. And also the work of the whole team who is putting me up as a larger than life man, from your DoP to your screenplay and dialogues, your director to your leading lady, to everything. I am just a normal guy. I don’t see that star quality in me at all! I am okay in any situation and any condition.