The way I react to a scene tells me whether it will click with the audience, says Salman Khan whose Dabangg 2 is all set to hit the big screen this week. harshikaa udasi reports

He is on a roll and he knows it. He walks into a media interview fully aware that the trade is speaking about his film Dabangg 2 shovelling in crores but instead of being smug about it, Salman Khan confesses he is worried only about one thing. The end of the world. “I hope the world doesn’t end on December 21. It’s the release of our film and hey, Chulbul Pandey is supposed to be a saviour! What if the sea decides to rush in. I live on the ground floor…would be the first to go,” he says with mock seriousness.

With the record-breaking hit of the year, Ek Tha Tiger, under his belt, Brand Salman is clearly at its peak. The second of the Dabangg franchise is releasing on December 21 and the anticipation has been building up since last year, when the film crew began shooting.

The director of Dabangg — Abhinav Kashyap — is out of the picture and Salman’s brother Arbaaz (also producer of both films) is wielding the megaphone for the sequel for the first time. The primary cast and characters remain the same, including Sonakshi Sinha who plays Salman’s wife, while the main antagonist is played by Prakash Raj. The lovable roguish cop Chulbul Robinhood Pandey will be married to his lady love Rajjo in this one and tackle a new villain.

Talking about Arbaaz’s comfort level with the film, Salman says, “Arbaaz was wholly involved with the concept of Dabangg. He was the producer of the first one too and worked closely with Abhinav on everything. It didn’t take him long to slip into the director’s shoes. He is also a sensible guy and has a grip over storytelling. We always wanted the film to take off from where the first one left and waited for a story to build.” Now, the third of the Dabangg series is already on the anvil and will be a prequel, about the genesis of Chulbul Pandey. “It will not depend on the success of Dabangg 2, though we’d definitely be more enthusiastic if this sequel succeeds,” he admits.

With the super success of Dabangg, Salman agrees that it was easy to caricaturise Chulbul Pandey. “It was a task to keep ourselves under check. For instance, Chulbul has this typical laugh which got immensely popular and I ended up overdoing it for a few scenes. When I realised this, I laughed at myself! We couldn’t get repetitive. We had to continue his portrayal as larger-than-life, but we couldn’t make a caricature of him,” he says.

Sonakshi’s role

Speaking about his co-star Sonakshi, Salman says it is difficult to comment on her growth as an actress as the two of them collaborated within a year of completing Dabangg. “I could hardly have made out any difference in a two-year-old child!” he smiles. “But Sonakshi came to the industry loaded with talent. She always had it in her to do well. In fact, she had to bear some brickbats for our sequel as she had put on some weight. But that was only because she is pregnant in the film and had to look the part.”

Salman is delivering back-to-back blockbuster hits but using the formulaic action-comedy genre for appeal. “I think action alone is very boring. I don’t want to take it to the Jackie Chan level either, as it takes a lot to do something like what he does. A fight has to be backed by emotion. The people in the audience should feel the urge to sit up and say, ‘Get up and hit him’. Unless you get that reaction, a fight sequence has no meaning. And I am not doing only action, I am also doing a Prem once again for Sooraj Barjatya,” reveals Salman. (Prem is the romantic protagonist who has been the common thread of all Sooraj Barjatya ‘family’ films — Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, Maine Pyar Kiya, etc. So strong is the association of Prem with romance that most leading actors wanted to play the character before Sooraj’s popularity dipped.)

The ‘superstar’ attributes his so-called Midas touch to his instinct. “I wouldn’t say I know the pulse of the audience. I just know my own pulse. If I react to a scene or a story, I feel the audience will too. That guides me, unless as Salman I lose the plot. If I become a megalomaniac, then too I have my family who will scoff at me and keep me in control,” he says.