Compiled by- Nidhi Kumari
He has taken Bollywood industry by storm with his power packed performances and jaw dropping action, he’s none other than Salman Khan. The megastar gets candid and casual about his film Bajrangi Bhaijaan, his take on religion, his box office successes and a lot more in an exclusive interview with Rajesh Sharma from the Indus Age team, excerpts:
Indus Age: The ingredients of a blockbuster hit film are-striking punch lines, thumping songs, jaw-dropping action and ‘THE SALMAN KHAN’, Bajarangi Bhaijaan, the flag bearer of Salman Khan Films. What is your take on that?
Salman : Well, we can just choose the best script that comes and I actually do not care that much about the result of the release of a film; that is taken care of by the producer; me and my team in this case. But the most crucial part is the selection of the script; I do not compromise with that. The script should be the most amazing one and you should be really keen to do that movie. Like you shift dates and you want to start the film as soon as possible. Those kinds of films do not do well that have strong characters but a weak script. So, if the script is of a different level altogether of sincerity, with outstanding screenplay, dialogue, etc. then the film won’t go wrong. So, once the movie is done, all I do is spread awareness of the movie that this film will release on Eid or Diwali or on the date the film is releasing so that people know what the film is about and they can go and watch the film.
Indus Age: Salman Khan has gone a long way to establish himself as ‘the star, known all over the world. Salman is a brand on his own. How does all that make you feel?
Salman : I love all this. I did not intend to be an actor; I just modeled for a pocket money, in college. Then I worked as an assistant. So I thought that I will be a director and I started writing my own scripts but then I didn’t get a movie as a director, that was when I was too young, out at work. So, after five to six years I started trying for acting. And from being an assistant director to modeling I got my first break as an actor. I signed two films, Biwi Ho Toh Aisi and Maine Pyar Kia. In Biwi Ho Toh Aisi, I was playing a character but in Maine Pyar Kia I had my first main lead as an actor, and that film really did well. And then I never looked back. So, I just love all that, though it has been 27 years in the industry but I feel I am new. I still believe that I have really been fortunate that people all over the world want to see my films and like me on screen.
Indus Age: Being a devoted worshiper of Bajrang Bali (the Hindu God) in ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ and releasing this film on the exultant occasion of Eid. Only Salman Khan can do that; uniting two religion into one. What do you have to say about that?
Salman: Because that’s what I am all about, I am two religions in one. This film is talking about what is God, we are talking about humanity. We’re talking about this one man who confronts a little kid, gets attached to her and he wants to drop her back home, how he finds her house after realizing that she’s from Pakistan and unites her to her family. So, it’s basically a story that talks about helping out and being kind. Hindu, Muslim, India, Pakistan, it’s just the backdrop, we’re talking about good and nice people, kind-hearted people, there’s no negativity in the film. No bashing between India-Pakistan, nothing against religion. It’s just that two people happen to be from different religion, both of them respect each other’s religion, that’s it which everyone knows and does in today’s time. The nice part of the film is that it rubbishes all the talks that come out, what’s wrong in doing a film that has hugely reduced hatred. Because so much of animosity, I don’t think is required, like in a war, you’re killing the whole family and not just a soldier, instead of that things can be worked out peacefully and countries are trying that. So, through this film we’re trying to help to get closer and it’s happening like all our movies are watched in Pakistan, we play cricket with each other, then their distinguished actors work here, opening up relationships and seeing that there is peace.
Indus Age: It is popularly known that Salman Khan loves children. In your film ‘Bajrangi Bhaijan’, there’s a cute little girl, Harshaali Malhotra playing one of the most important characters. How was your experience of working with Harshaali?
Salman: She’s one of the most important characters. Had she not worked, the film wouldn’t have worked. We are very happy that through this film we are spreading awareness and we’re really excited about this film mainly because this girl in the film is incredible, so if we hadn’t cast her in the film, it wouldn’t have worked. No matter how beautiful or brilliant the script, this girl had to be equally good and usually when we cast kids, they are mostly filmy type of kids where that innocence is found missing in front of the camera, out here we have got the most beautiful girl for the film.
Indus Age: Bajrangi Bhaijan’ has a powerful plot involving both India and Pakistan and is speculated to break all box office records. What would you like to say about that?
Salman : We’ve done our best. We’ve put in our heart and soul in the film. We believe in this film that’s why I chose to do it. And I leave the decision of my films to be the biggest hit or not on the people, on the audience and on my fans. We’ve done our task with immense hardwork.
It’s a very positive film; it’s a delight to watch. It’s a really sweet, fun filled and an emotional journey. It’s not heavy at all, has a drama, has humor, incredible music, has a brilliant chemistry between Harshali and me and also Kareena Kapoor. And she’s done a fabulous job in it. She’s the strongest character of the film. So, a lot of beautiful things are there to look up to in Bajrangi Bhaijaan. It’s basically how you open up your eyes that people are nice and people do help.
Indus Age: Do you recall any sweet memory from the shoot of your film, ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’?
Salman: The whole film, every scene of it. Shooting in Chandni chowk, interacting with people, we have travelled a lot in this film like Rajasthan and also Kashmir. I saw Kashmir for the first time, visited Srinagar , Sonmarg and Pahalgam in Kashmir. I think it’s a beautiful place. For all these years people have not shot there due to all the chaos there. I thought it was so unfair for the people. I mean they are living in heaven which is hell for them. So we went there to shoot, because their whole economy is based on tourism, we went there to inspire others to see this place and visit it always, and what makes this place beautiful is the people who are very hospitable, cultured and helpful. I was amazed to meet such humble and nice people. So, through Bajrangi Bhaijaan we want to encourage people that they visit Kashmir and have a holiday of their life. Everything is great about Kashmir, from its people to its food.
Indus Age: Salman, did you have those Gustabas and other Kashmiri food, did you put extra kilos after having them?
Salman: (Laughs) Indeed the food is incredible, it’s so heavy that I had to refrain myself from those food as I had to train a lot for the film and couldn’t afford to put those extra kilos
Indus Age: Which is your favourite dish in Kashmir?
Salman: The Gustabas was really good. And you know in Kashmir, they have so many dishes they keep on coming.
Indus Age: You have successfully established yourself as an actor, producer, television presenter, a philanthropist. Are there any plans of going behind the lens into the field of direction? And you’ve mentioned in the interview, how you started with writing and wanted to become a director.
Salman: Not now. I want to focus on what I am doing right now. Directing would take a lot of my time, acting is good to me. I want to concentrate more on ‘Being Human’ right now instead of directing. So, if I am doing two films in a year, I can give the rest of my time on Being Human. I want to make Being Human one of the coolest charitable trusts ever.
Indus Age: What message would you like to give to your fans in Australia and when can we see you in Australia as people want to see you here?
Salman: I haven’t been to Australia for quite a long time now and yes, I want to perform there. I think I had shot one of my films, Yeh hai Jalwa and I would love to be back as soon as I have sometime or we shoot in Australia, I am ready for it.
To the fans I would say, take care and be well!