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An encounter with Salman

Salman Khan with Sooraj Pancholi. Photo: Malvin Massey  

“You are the first male journalist that I have come across during the course of the day,” comments Salman Khan as I try to figure out his mood on a muggy day in Gurgaon. He notices the declining ratio of male journalists in features. “Have they pushed you into the kitchen,” he laughs. And for a moment one thinks that he might be right for one of my colleagues has recently asked me to look into the trend of kitchenware. Well, the mood is set for a quick conversation on his next production Hero, which marks the debut of Sooraj Pancholi and Athiya Shetty. A remake of Subhash Ghai’s epic film, which turned Jackie Shroff into a star overnight, the latest, is coming at a time when everybody is swearing by content.

Why Hero, when you yourself have shown an inclination towards content-driven cinema with Bajrangi Bhaijaan

Why not? I still remember its poster. I remember its songs and I liked its vibe. I requested Subhashji (Ghai) to make Hero with me. He said he has already made it. I kept persisting but he made Yuvraj with me. Then I thought when Hero is good for me, it will be good to launch Sooraj (Pancholi) as well. It is a sacrifice for me!

As for hero-driven cinema, it will be back. Wapas ayega! Every genre has its life span of 6-7 years. Whenever a film of a particular genre does well, a lot of similar films follow. Some are good and then there is lots of rubbish. After a point both don’t work because even if it is good people say pehle dekhi hai (have seen it before) and then something else happens. From underdog to romance to family to action to action-comedy, this is a cycle….

Do you feel the pressure of box office numbers?

I don’t feel the pressure but when your latest film crosses the turnover of your previous film it gives a good feeling.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan has been a rare film where you got critical acclaim as well?

I never cared for critics. If they had given me minus 2 stars, I would not have been surprised. In fact, they should maintain their reputation vis-à-vis my films.

But what’s the harm if you get both critical acclaim and box office numbers.

My point is if critics have so much knowledge why the films that they praise often flounder at the box office. Paani bhi nahin mangti. They should respect the fact that there are so many lives involved in filmmaking. They watch the film before people do, and pass a judgment. It is not a correct thing. I know film criticism has become a job but what is their track record. Have they been consistent enough?

Millions consider you a hero on and off screen; do you believe it?

No. I haven’t even started yet.

There are two extreme versions of you in the media. One is of a benevolent film star and then there is another courtesy your brush with law.

Media people are not looking at me. They are looking at their jobs. The ‘other’ is not a crime. It is an accident. The case is on in the High Court and once the judgement is there you will get to know.

Do you go back in time and ponder that you could have done things differently? That perhaps you should have returned to the accident spot…

Nobody can go back in time. It is hypothetical. Given a chance I would have changed a lot. I would have changed this moment. It’s life’s journey. Before you start you think you know everything but when life unfolds you forget everything. You know this is right, this is wrong and this is something that I will manage. But then life has its own way. But my belief is whatever happens, happens for good. Whose good, I don’t know.

You have become a singer these days

Like Remo D’Souza made the film Anybody Can Dance, I think anybody can sing. New talent should keep coming. This way success will not to go these singers’ heads! Like these young actors (pointing towards Sooraj) keep us on toes.



Sooraj dawns

Son of Aditya Pancholi and Zareena Wahab, Sooraj Pancholi says his father told him if he needs any advice regarding acting he should go to his mother. “Mom just said one thing. I want you to enter the film set like a worker and retain this quality even after 10 years.” Best part of the film? “Playback by Salman sir.”

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 5:53:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/an-encounter-with-salman/article7633135.ece

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