Salman Khan opens up about releasing Radhe on OTT, the pandemic and working with Prabhudheva

Superstar, philanthropist and charismatic actor, Salman Khan is a force to reckon with. Indeed, there has been no looking back for him after his film Maine Pyaar Kiya, released a few decades ago, turned out to be a stupendous hit at the box office.

We remember in one of our earlier interactions then, Salman spoke about the anxiety he experienced when Maine Pyaar Kiya was being released. That day he drove on his motorbike down to a theatre in town to watch the reactions of the audience. Little did he know that driving his motorcycle back home would almost be impossible. He averred then, “I remember when I came out of the theatre, I was immediately surrounded by fans. I was not prepared for this. But yes, it was humbling and a different, yet memorable, feeling. I was happy and surprised by the fans' lovable reactions, which was a first-time experience for me.”

That was then. Today, the superstar is all set to release Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai on an OTT platform on Eid… Was he facing the same anxiety he faced during his debut film? In view of the pandemic, Salman Khan spoke to us through Zoom about his film and more. Excerpts:

Radhe will be missing a theatrical release...

As much as I am missing the big screen, Radhe is missing it too. This film is made for the big screen, and we had decided that we would be coming out this Eid. We were under lockdown so theatre owners were not in favour of the release and since we all were going through a miserable time, we thought it would be better to give the OTT a go. After things got a bit better, we again announced the theatrical release of the film, but then the lockdown was imposed again. We thought the lockdown won't last for too long, and theatres would be able to operate with 30-50% occupancy, but that did not happen. However, all this I feel happened for the good because what if, God forbid, even a single audience member would have been Covid positive, I would feel this has happened because of us. But, when things go back to normal, we will re-release the film in the theatres.

Could you elaborate on Radhe’s OTT release?

We have partnered with Zee because of which we will face losses along with them. But we decided to bring the film in such unprecedented times so that the audiences could entertain themselves. The film is getting a theatrical release overseas but in India, there are few theatres operating. And, wherever the film releases, we aren't going to get anything major out of it. On other days, we charge 350, 250, and 150 but this time, we aren't charging anything. So, fulfilling the commitment was the right thing to do in the lockdown as the fans can get entertained at a very meagre cost as compared to what it would have been if they saw the film in the theatres. It is good to watch the film in the safe environment of your house.

There are people who aren't adhering to Covid protocols. What message would you like to give them?

What should I tell them? It’s been a year-and-a-half and the second wave is far more dangerous than the first one... It has reached almost every household. I pray for everyone's safety, and urge people to get vaccinated. But, taking the vaccine doesn't give anyone a freehand, it doesn't mean you won't get Covid, hence following protocols is must. I have taken the first dose, and will take the second one in 10-15 days. The problem is our medical infrastructure is exhausted — not only ours but everywhere. There is no space in the hospitals. People are dying because they are not getting beds, and the government centres are full. We have seen a lot of people losing their loved ones or close ones going through 20 days of misery. Hence, we need to be careful of how we conduct ourselves.

The film industry has come forward to lend a helping hand to the people in need. And, it was reported whatever Radhe's earnings are, they will be donated to COVID relief...

We aren't going to earn anything, we are only going to lose. And, the loss will be from our end and Zee's. You all must be thinking that we have decided to release the film because we wanted to earn money. But, we are at loss as we aren't getting a theatrical release. Whatever amount we get from the theatrical release, we earn profits from that revenue. And whatever production costs we have invested in the film, we'll be investing that as well. Last time we donated money to people and the process has be restarted. This time, around 50,000 people from the industry will get an amount, which will help them tide through this difficult phase. We are also arranging some oxygen concentrators. We just hope that things go well for the film industry and the entire world, more so for the daily wage workers.

Your jodi with Prabhudheva is superhit. What brings you together on the same wavelength?

He is a talented actor, director and choreographer. He knows the pulse of the audience and the hero's too.

The film also marks a long association between you and Sajid-Wajid. And, Sajid recently said you were the one who boosted his morale when he was completely demoralised...

He lost his brother... In fact his best friend, business partner — they used to work together, and were always together. There was immense love and respect between them. But then he lost him to Covid. It was a huge jolt for him, but he picked himself up and started working hard. And, the songs he made for Radhe were already with me, along with a few others created by Wajid, which comprise of tunes, lyrics, musical stanzas, etc. In fact, I have the content for almost 100 songs — he used to come and sing for me whenever we met, I have kept those songs aside. And in the future, whenever we make a film, and if we can fit the songs that we have, we will incorporate Wajid's work so that the coming generation can listen to his creations. I think he was one of the most talented people who never got his due.

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