आज सलमान खान का जन्मदिन है। उनका यह इंटरव्यू मयंक शेखर ने लिया ढाईघंटे तक चले इस इंटरव्यू में सलमान खान ने दिल खोल कर बातें की हैं। उनके जन्मदिन पर उनके प्रशंसकों के लिए चवन्नी की भेंट। माफ करें,यह इंटरव्यू अंगे्रजी में है और कुछ लंबा है।
n a conversation that lasts about two and half hours, held over a single sitting with a live audience in 2010, actor Salman Khan takes you into the little known world of possibly the most reclusive of Indian super-star.
By Mayank Shekhar
A lot of people may not know or remember this but Maine Pyar Kiya was in fact not your first film, it was Biwi Ho To Aisi (1988).
A lot of people know that, in fact. And that I prayed for that film to not do well. But it did 100 days’ business, so just imagine how God doesn’t listen to me.
But wasn’t that an odd choice: to debut with fourth or fifth billing in a film headlined by Rekha, Farooq Sheikh, Bindu and Kader Khan?
Arrey, but you have to get work also na! I had no choice. It was the first film I got after such a long time. And I thought (at the time), it was the best film ever. There was Rekhaji, Farooq Sheikh. There was the combination of Kader Khan and Shakti Kapoor that was working well in movies at that time. And I was playing the young romantic lead, with Renu Arya.
I met her (Renu Arya) in a flight recently and I went… (makes surprised expression). And the same thing happened with Bhagyashree (co-star in Maine Pyar Kiya) when I met her at Filmistan Studio recently. Don’t blame me for this. I hadn’t met Bhagyashree or Renu Arya in like 22 years.
Ajay Devgn and I were sitting down and this girl walks up to me in heels – tick tock, tick tock. She says, Hi Salman. I say, Hey. She says, what’s up. I say, all good. She says, how’ve you been? I say, good. Then she blasts, “Ass hole, you didn’t recognise me?” I said, “Bhagyashree, I’m so sorry!” Don’t blame me. Apna chehra bhool jaoonga mein kabhi! (I’ll forget my face some day).
Did you always want to be a movie star?
No. I wanted to be a director. I had started meeting people with scripts. One of those scripts of mine was very recently destroyed by a dear friend of mine. It was called Veer. Anyway, every place I went to with a script, they’d always tell me I should be an actor. They probably didn’t have faith in me as director. They thought what will this 17-18 year old boy direct? What sensibility will he have?
I had written Baaghi and Veer at that time. Back then, big budget movies used to have budgets of around Rs 70 to 80 lakh. I remember this because Sooraj Barjatiya went over-budget with Maine Pyar Kiya. It was made at Rs 1 crore, 11 lakh. He was very stressed, he would tell me his father would make films in Rs 40 lakh. So well, they didn’t trust me then with directing I guess, so they kept telling me that I should become an actor.
Eventually I got ‘chadaoed’ (deluded) by the whole thing that maybe I should become an actor, since that was the unanimous opinion. I went to my dad and told him I want to be an actor since that’s what everyone had been telling me. My dad said, “Everybody comes here – Ramesh Sippy, Manmohan Desai, Mahesh Bhatt… Nobody has told me that. Nobody’s said Salman beta, next film you’re on to you either. You see Sanjay (Dutt), Chunky (Pandey), Sunny (Deol) coming over. Do you see anything similar between you and them? You can’t become a ‘mohale ka dada’ (street lord), lawyer or police inspector. At most you’ll do a romantic picture or two. What will you do after?”
So I started working out. And then he said, “Yeh lo Dara Singh banna chahta hai (he wants to be Dara Singh now).” But these are the things that got me going then and still get me going now. When sometimes you guys (the news media) lagao (pick on) me big time, you think I’ll react. Yes I do react. But I react on myself. I say now I’ll show them.
So while growing up your icons would’ve been not movie stars, but directors instead?
I didn’t have any. Until recently when I saw The Expendables, I wasn’t always like, “Woho Sylvester Stallone!” But at 67, how he has looked in that film? He’s just, “Woof!” He’s in ten times better shape than I am. Amazing. Brilliant. To fight, run and fall – the action – I was thinking Chulbul Pandey ka kya hoga boss!
Were you not a huge movie buff growing up?
Obviously I was. I’ve grown up in the film fraternity. My dad is a film writer, so yes. But I never ever wanted to be an actor because I didn’t believe that I could be one. I was very thin. I was 48 kilos. I could play sports, learn martial arts and all, but screen presence wasn’t there. It took me years to double my weight. Now I’m 78 kilos and sometimes I go up to 84 kilos when I train very hard. You need that. But if I go back to the weight I was at the time of Maine Pyar Kiya, people will say, poor guy has fallen sick.
Maine Pyar Kiya opened in 1989. A lot of people can’t quite fathom what exactly happened in that year with your debut, Aamir’s, and then Shah Rukh Khan also came along. It’s been over twenty years since and the Khan trinity, so to say, still exists. Few stars have managed to break that mould; many have come and gone since. What explains this phenomenon?
There’s no explanation for that. That breach will never happen and I’ve never thought about it as well. You’ve seen the promos for Dabanng (referring to the first part). Have you seen anything like that before? We’re used to seeing so many promos and there has never been a reaction of that magnitude to any film promo before.
Like Sholay didn’t do well until four weeks after the film released. After that it picked up and ran for five years. What is the explanation to that? They said, wait, wait, the movie will pick up by Monday. Picture doesn’t pick up, the prints get picked up. The dialogues of Sholay are not even dialogues. They are lines like “Arre O Sambha”, “Kitne aadmi the.” He’s asking “kitne aadmi the?” That’s not a dialogue. But everything about Sholay caught on. Like “Holi kab hai?” He’s asking holi kab hai yaar!
There’s no explanation to the trinity either. It’s not just three. Akshay Kumar came at the same time. Ajay Devgn is still there. It’s just that three guys have the surname Khan. If Aki’s name was Khan and I was Kumar, it wouldn’t have made a difference, right? I don’t believe in all that stuff.
I once read an interview of yours where you said no one can fault your acting because you in fact don’t act at all. What does that mean?
Yes that is true. I can get caught for anything, but I can’t get caught for acting. I am on screen just the way I am in real life. I’ve never played any characters. When you act, you basically take a character from somewhere and perform it. With me it’s like jo line aya hai, jaisa bolne ka hai, waise bolo, khatam karo, aage bhado (get the line, say it and move on). I’m not one of those who comes on to the set and says give me half an hour, I want to get into my character.
Is it unnerving for your director knowing that you’ll land up anytime and do anything?
They are scared if I will land up at all. Once I’ve landed up, they know I’ll finish the work and finish it a lot faster than anybody else.
Is there no film in your entire career that you’ve really pushed yourself hard to perform?
There is hard work in every film. Some people show physical hard work. My hard work is in today, here, sitting here. Looking at you guys (refers to others watching the interview), the way you guys are sitting, and looking at me. If I were to be in front of the camera, I would be exactly like this.
If this were a scene in a movie, and you’d be sitting here and shooting and looking at me, you would be no different either. You would be like this (makes a serious expression). Acting is what? It is sitting here and chilling. That’s what it is all about. But that is not appreciated yet. Out here you need that little more acting for the critics to appreciate it. The critics know a lot about that kind of stuff apparently.
Well you do end up doing what your audience likes.
Basically you’ve got to be yourself, and just three or four percent larger than life, that is it. That is my belief. That is if you have it, if you are successful. If you go a little over the top, then you are arrogant and pompous.
What about scripts? What is the one thing that you definitely look at before signing up for a film?
The script. And that is, if I like the narration in the first go. If I say I’ll see it tomorrow, I’m a bit confused about it right now – then it’s not happening. That movie will only happen if it’s a friend of mine who is doing it, and if I have the dates. And then if he keeps saying, “Trust me, trust me, trust me . . . Let’s do it na! You don’t want to work with me? Is there a problem?” Then the film will happen. But now all that has stopped. It stopped sometime ago actually.
A lot of films you’ve done like that, right? Do you regret doing them?
I don’t regret them. There are different reasons for doing different films. But the most important reason is the script. You feel the script is outstanding and positive and there is heroism in it – Heroism not in action, but heroism in romance, drama, for a cause.
It can be anything that you come out of (the theatre from), and you’re either laughing or wiping your tears off. Any of these reactions is heroism.
For example, if you’ve ever watched Bruce Lee movies, when you come out you see the skinniest of guys wanting to break into fights. They get thrashed outside Gaiety-Galaxy (popular cinema in Bandra). I’ve seen that. They would come out as if they had wings and they felt like studs and they would get jhapped (swatted).
But that is the spirit of the hero – either you want to be that hero or not. Or if a girl comes out, she says I wish I had a brother like that, a boyfriend, son or grandson like that, or I wish my daughter gets married to somebody like that. That is heroism. That is the character that people follow and that is something that you should do.
Your dad is responsible for major blockbusters through the 1970s. Is there anything that he taught you that you keep in mind?
These are the things that he taught me. And I still believe in all of it. When you sign a film you think these are things you want: you see the filmmaker’s visual sense when he is narrating the film to you, you say fine. In your mind you think it’s awesome, that it’s going to be a blockbuster, ‘phaad degi yeh picture’ (the film will blow your mind).
And then when you come on to the set, he (the director) says, no, it’s not going to be like this sir, it will be something totally different. Then you think, “Yeh aadmi koi aur tha yaar pehle (This man was someone else before).” The moment he gets on the set, he starts ordering – sound, camera, action cut cut cut….I’m like, “What are you doing?” That is the time you know, and you go, “Oh no! What have I done? Mistake!” It happens. But at that point in time, you follow. You say, yes sir, okay sir, ready to take, sir.
Then when it comes to publicising the film: Nice film. “Arre get some enthusiasm,” the director says. You say: good good, very nice movie, you must watch it, if you have extra money, then you must see the movie; if you have nothing to do, see it for sure.
What do you make of the Bollywood audiences’ split between multiplex and single screen theatres that took place roughly in the early 2000s?
I think multiplex audiences have a lot of money to spend and are slightly more conscious about what people will think when they see them clapping or whistling (to a film). That is it. We tried to change that with Dabanng. We were going to get them off their high horses and make them scream and shout.
If a film has a good opening, then the single screen theatres are in fact a lot more expensive than multiplexes, because in black, the prices average around Rs.500 a ticket. In that much, you can buy three tickets at a multiplex.
But there is also the comfort level of going to that particular theatre: Mall mein jayenge, achhe kapde daal ke jayenge…. (We’ll go to a fancy mall, wear good clothes…). Like when we were little, we used to go to a good restaurant and the darban (the usher) would open the door. We used to worry about what the bill would be like. You’d think, damn, Rs 100 gone! If we were on a date then we were screwed. You open the menu and eyes immediately go to the right side (the prices). You wonder, “Dal aur chawal ka itna hai toh chicken aur mutton ka kitna hoga? (If dal, chawal is that expensive, how much would chicken or mutton cost?).” Even now that happens.
That has been your effort, isn’t it? To bring the old cinema and the hardcore audiences back into the theatres?
Heroism, basically. To entertain people, to ensure they go into the theatre, and come out happy. Now what I want is for the single screen guys to go to those multiplex guys and teach them how to have a blast. What has started happening is that multiplex guys have started going to single screens to watch these kinds of movies. People in multiplexes get bored of these films. They wonder where the entertainment is. They screen some boring films that critics give four or five stars to.
Did you love Mithun-da movies for instance?
Yeah. Gunmaster G9 (from Suraksha, Wardat). Now I’ve been wanting to do that for the longest time. Disco Dancer, Taraana, Veer, Heroes… I loved all these movies. I think he is rock-star. He’s also a lovely guy.
There is a line in Disco Dancer, where Amrish Puri says that creative mind ko destroy karne ke liye, usay dimaagi pareshani deni chahiye. You’ve had a lot of demaagi pareshani in your life – with the car accident, the poaching case. How have you kept yourself away from all that?
The fact is if you’ve done it, you can’t do anything about it. If you haven’t done it, even then you can’t do anything about it. Woh apna time hai. Kharab chal raha hai. You can’t do anything. Jhelo usay. Jitni jaldi jhel sakto ho, jhelo (Time’s not on your side. Deal with it, the faster the better). At that situation it is your destiny. I was advised to run away. I was getting anticipatory bail. So even the cops knew what was happening. Everybody was talking about how it was all politically motivated and all that jazz.
So there were cops in Umedh Bhawan waiting for me (for the poaching case). I entered Umedh Bhawan and the cops told me, “Bhaag jaao (run away).” They said, “Hum sab idhar udhar dekh rahein hain. Aap bhaag jao (We’re all looking away, you run away).” I said, “Pagal hai. Salman Khan hoon. Bhagoonga toh kahan bhagoonga yaar (Are you mad? Where will Salman Khan run away to?).” Every villager in every village recognises me. If I go out of here, I will walk with my head held high. I’ve not done anything, but it’s okay. Yeh time jhelna hai, jhelo. Khatam karo (deal with this time, and move on).
Every time I knew that they would call me (for court hearing) on Thursday. So I would be in from Thursday to Sunday, and I would be on a long holiday from Monday to Wednesday. I knew every Thursday that I had to leave (jail). Abhi yeh program hai, so chill baba (that’s the plan, so chill). What else can you do but wake up in the morning, do crunches, sit-ups, paint, sketch. That time (in the prison) went flying by. But that doesn’t mean that they can put me back in. No way now!
Do these things bother you when you go back to work on the set?
You mean like flashes come to me? (laughs) No! None of these things bother me. I was in for a month and a half, for 15 days, sometimes for 20 days. What does bother me is that 50 to 60 per cent of the people that are in jail are just there. Their term is over. They don’t have three to four thousand bucks to come out. Their cases have been going on for the longest time for small, small, small things.
People, who they say, are criminals, who’ve been in for 30 years, are just there. They can’t see or walk, some of those people are also in jail. In the monsoon time, people get into small fights, commit small crimes, just to go to jail – so that they can wade over the monsoons in a prison. It’s a sad thing. And our jails are in such tip-top condition!
If your flush in the bathroom doesn’t work, you should go to one of the jail toilets. You must try it. You’ll love it! Agar mahine ke andar kabz na ho jaye, toh mera naam change kar dena (If you don’t get constipated in a month, change my name).
Another thing that’s changed about Bollywood is that a lot of white money has finally entered the system. There was a time when movies were almost paid for by the underworld. Were you ever paid such at any of those times?
There was no money in the system earlier – forget black or white. There was a time when most of us used to sign a movie for Rs 5 lakh and this one man used to come and say, “Sethji, that man (the producer) is in trouble. He doesn’t have money. Give him a discount. Leave him Rs 2 lakh.” And this happened for the longest time with me yar!
Right until Saajan and even for two-three films after, this guy used to come. I said, “Yaar yeh aadmi baar baar? What is this?” My price would go up to Rs 25 lakh, then he would discount me to Rs 10 lakh. If it went up to Rs 30 lakh, he’d discount me to Rs 15 lakh. And every time it was always this particular man who would come over. So one day when he came, I asked my dad, who is he? He said, “Pata nahin beta! (I don’t know son).” Since Baaghi he had been coming and each time he would take more away.
Finally I asked him, “Aap price badhane aye ho kabhi? (Have you ever come in to raise my price?).” I just said that I thought you’d do me a favour sometime as well. Have you ever pleaded my case? Have you ever told the filmmaker or me that beta, in this movie, I’ll increase your rate from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 35 lakh? He said no. So I asked him, “Apne agar aisa nahin kaha hai, toh waisa kyun kehte ho? (If you’ve never said one thing then why the other?)” Don’t I work hard? And every producer makes money. Next time when you come to this house, I’ll take it for granted that you’ve come to increase my price by Rs 25 lakh for every film.
After that day, he didn’t come back again. You know who that guy was? It was Hari Sugandh. I made Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam with him later and it was all good. I earned all my money back from that film.
But did you at all fear the mafia at that point? Was it a very common thing?
No. They kept me out of this. They never bothered me as such. I did say no, a lot of times. That was the problem. They thought I was kind of erratic.
That’s a general perception that people have about you as well, right?
No, not erratic. It’s just that if you ask me nicely, I’ll listen to you. But if I feel there is any kind of threat or pressure, phir toh chance hi nahin hai (then there is no chance). But if you say no I have to do it, then no way. As and when the pressure keeps building, I keep taking it in and then eventually it comes out in the correct manner.
I’ve never been called over (by the underworld). It was a big threat (then) and people had been shot and a lot of people had died in the film industry. It was a huge threat. Lots of people were targeted, especially producers, like Mr Rakesh Roshan. But I was kind of away from all this stuff. That was a good thing.
Not that one didn’t get calls or anything. But there is a way of handling these things. I would talk to them the way they would talk to me. You talk to me with respect, I would talk with a lot of respect too. You threaten me, I’ll threaten you back. The equation is simple. That disrespect, apart from one or two instances, didn’t really happen. There’s no point naming those people either, because some idiot will gain publicity and he will start calling again.
Talking about your erratic nature…
There is nothing erratic about my nature. It’s just that the way you would react, I would react the same way. It’s just that people in limelight, under the media spotlight, would not react that way. They would go back home and plan their reaction. That would be a more dangerous reaction. With me, it’s just there, and I forgive and forget very easily.
That’s what people define you as: rockstar – someone who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about what anybody thinks or when they write you off?
I don’t care. Earlier it used to bother me and I used to say if anyone touches my family, I’ll do this and that. Now family is also capable of handling themselves, so that is also no cause for worry anymore.
How do you explain fan craze in general? Like, I don’t know, why would MF Hussain want to make a whole film about Madhuri Dixit, after Hum Apke Hain Kaun?
For Madhuri (Dixit)? I mean I was also part of that film. I was also appreciated hugely in it. But I never got any paintings or anything from him. They said he made a painting of me begging with a bowl and all that. But we met up after and it was all okay. He saw some of my work (paintings) and he quite liked it as well.
What defines you almost wholly are your fans. What are the craziest moments that you’ve ever encountered?
Lots of these things yaar. Like I have this scar on my hand (points to shoulder). I see a lot of these guys who come with scars on their hands. It’s ridiculous. With me it was an accident. These kids do it on purpose. You can’t prove by doing such things that you are the biggest fan there is. I am myself thinking about getting a plastic surgery done to remove this. I also get a lot of people writing to me with their blood. I have stopped replying to those mails altogether. I don’t know how many people go mad doing such things. It’s sad. No one even reads those letters, you know. They don’t get to my hands, only the best ones do.
My intention is to stop all this. Then there are some who come to the first floor and stay put all night outside my door. My mum opens the door, and says, what is this? So now there are people standing down there as well. Crazy fans are those who pass by the house and if there is no one there, they shout out, “Teri maa ki.”
There is then the whole Sallu bhai fan club. My name is not Sallu bhai. It is Salman. But then it’s okay. It has suddenly come up from somewhere. It’s come from the fans only, not the press. I think Jackie (Shroff) was the only one who used to call me Sallu.
Do you think about this kind of stardom at all, of losing yourself in it?
No. I don’t know what a star is. I never think about these things, because the more you think about them, the more your ears get used to them. Your eyes get used to it (closes ears, imagining a screaming crowd). And suddenly when you don’t see that happening anymore, you start imagining all of that happening again. At that time it could be for somebody who’s behind you. You think then that ‘mein budhha ho gaya toh mujhe bhool gaye’ (I’ve aged so everybody’s forgotten me). Then the frustration builds up and you live your life in frustration and boredom. It makes you vindictive and complex and you become a disgusting human being. So yes, the solution is, don’t take this to the head.
You’ve grown up in the film industry. Have you personally observed people go through that?
I’ve seen my father who would keep putting the phone down. And then later, when there were no calls coming, he started asking to check if the phone was working at all. I’ve seen this. These things don’t make a difference. It’s just that some of my friends have to be careful about this.
Everybody has to learn. I’ve learnt it from my seniors. Most of us are pretty chilled out about all this stuff. No matter how much money you’ve made, it will not compensate for that mental peace.
The moment you wore a moustache in Dabanng in 2010, a whole lot of people I noticed started sporting them as well. You were apprehensive first. Is there any particular reason you finally gave in?
I shaved it off, no particular reason. It’s just that that the entire belt of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar has men who want to look older. That’s because those are very dabanng (fearless) states. ‘Mardangi ki nishani hoti hai wahan par’(it’s a sign of being macho there). Or they want to look more mature. It depends on the kind of face you have. And men-folk in those states have features that can carry off the moustache pretty well. They look tougher, stronger, braver, which for whatever reasons they might have, I think it is to look tougher and more macho.
Generally otherwise, everyone wants to be chikna, as it were, clean shaven.
In Tere Naam, for instance, when you had long hair, pretty much everyone in certain pockets of India also started wearing long hair.
I was born and brought up in Bombay. Until I was 16, for a period of two to three years, every two or three months, we used to go to Indore. So I would, in a year, spend a good four months in Indore on the fields. All the style that I’ve imbibed in roles come a lot from the way I’ve seen my cousins behave.
Even this Chulbul Pandey character from Dabangg has come from a lot of people I’ve noticed at shoots and stuff. It’s an accumulation of all things I’ve heard people speak and behave like. So what you see in the movie is not me. It is actually the common man who behaves in a particular manner.
I mean stuff like, when you ask someone, “Kaise Ho? (How are you?)”, he would reply “Tumko kya pharak padta hai (How does it matter to you!).” They have a very twisted way of saying things. Or even if you ask, “Bimaar ho? (Are you unwell?),” they’ll say, “Theek nahin hai to kya kar lo uske baray mein. Madad karoge? (I’m not well, so what’re you going to do about it? Will you help?).” You know, they are on a weird tangent altogether. So that is what these characters of mine have been based on.
Even in Tere Naam, the whole character is based on a kind of a guy to whom you’d react to in school saying, “Hero banta hai. Iske baal kaato (He’s trying to be a hero, let’s cut his hair!).” What I’m trying to say is that in small town India, that hero-giri means having long hair. In fact I remember when I used to have long hair in Maine Pyar Kiya and after that I cut my hair, my father had got upset with me. He said, “Hero ki ek nishani hoti hai. Lambe baal hote hai uske (Long hair is a marker for heroes. They all have long hair).” But things keep changing.
There is an incredible amount influence that you have had on especially small town India in terms of style. They look at you in a film and immediately want to copy you. Would you agree?
They somewhere see themselves in me. There are people who want to be stars. There was a time when people used to wonder where Dilip Saab (Dilip Kumar) used to stay, what did he eat, how did he talk…. There was this curiosity about stars then. Today there is no curiosity.
I’m here right now. I’m there on every TV channel. On screen it’s different, because about a hundred people are there turning you into that star. But now there is nothing like that. I’m just that – a common man. It’s just that some people have this aspiration to be that star sort of guy. My problem is that I’ve never felt that and I would never want to be that, because that’s not what I want to be remembered by.
I don’t want Salman Khan to be remembered as a star, actor. That is not my priority in life. I believe that because you want to be like that, so the way I speak or the way I conduct myself – you guys have a lot of stuff coming out of me.
Everyone has pretty much done everything there is to be done in India or abroad, or maybe they’ve done a lot more. I am no different. So I get screwed when they turn around and say, “Arre isme kya hai! Humne bhi kiya hai yeh (What’s the big deal? Even I’ve don’t that!).” The thing is how I handle it afterwards. That is the one thing that doesn’t make me different from anyone else, because I know I’ve not done anything different from anybody to be slammed for, or written about.
I was talking about your influence as a style icon…
But that’s what it is basically. The off-screen image helps the on-screen image develop.
In It Happened One Night, Clark Gable appeared on-screen with his shirt off for the first time, and the entire undershirt business in America went down. Since you took your shirt off, do you think you may have lowered the baniyan sales in India?
That was accidental. It’s like how you are at home. You are going to be bare-chested. If you are alone at home, you’re gonna be lot more than that, but you can’t show it on-screen – especially women. During Maine Pyar Kiya I was working out and you can’t work out with a shirt on. You generally put on a pair of shorts. This applies to everyone – to the people working on the streets, carpenters, labourers – everybody is bare-chested. And because they work that much, they are much more ripped than I would ever be.
Was there a point in your life when you just turned into a fitness freak?
I’ll tell you, most of the guys who do not take their shirt off is because they feel shy. Pate dikh raha, sides dikh rahein hai, handles hain (stomach, sides and love handles are exposed). I don’t have that problem. At least not yet. And because of me lots of people don’t have that problem either (laughs). No, it’s true! (shrugs). I’ve been a fitness freak for long now. Everybody comes back to the handles and then goes, “Aah” (makes a disgusted face).
Was it also a conscious career decision for you?
Some (stars) have now have started showing off their butt, which is a little too much for me. I’m sure you guys would love to see it, but guys like us don’t like to see all that. So those people are catering to certain one and half section of the awaam (masses). Which is quite cool yaar! It’s lovely.
My (bare-chested) look came out in ‘Oh Oh Jaane Jaana’ (song) from Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya. I was shooting in Madh Island and I had just started working out, so the clothes that I had got for the shoot wouldn’t fit me. In a month’s time, I had put on four and half kilos of muscle. I had tried on the shirt and jacket that I was to wear with torn jeans a month before the shoot and it had fit me perfectly. But when we were shooting, it just wouldn’t fit.
Now from Madh Island, to go back to Bandra or Juhu to pick up new clothes would take a whole day. So I told Sohail (Khan), let it go, brother. Let’s do it without the shirt. Sohail said, “You’re mad or what?” I said, let’s try it. We saw it on the video edit. It looked good, so I said, “Chalo, kya pharak padta hai. (How does it matter!).” Well, that’s how the bare chested thing came about. And then every film that I did, they’d go, “Shirt nikalo, shirt nikalo, shirt nikalo (take off your shirt).” The films in which I wouldn’t, they’d say with disappointment, “Nahin nikala, nahin nikala, nahin nikala (didn’t take off his shirt).” So pretty much I had my ass kicked from both sides.
Do distributors or producers expect you to do this now in every film?
No, no, no. It depends on what scene I’m doing and if it actually demands it, or if I’m looking amazingly fit. Apne mood pe depend karta hai (It depends on my mood). The major principle behind this is that if you want to be healthy, you have to hit the gym and take care of yourself. You want to patao (woo) hot chicks, you have to be like that. Because that is the first attraction.
After that you get to know what a jerk he is or whatever, that’s a different stage altogether, which I’ve been through a lot. Jo aadmi gym jayega (the guy who’ll hit the gym), will work out, take steam, shower, will come out ‘ekdum chaka chak’ – he has to spend at least three to four hours in the gym.
It’s better than standing at Bandstand or Carter Road, driving cars really fast with that ‘dhin-chak’ music. By the time you come out of the gym, there is nobody there on the street. It’s also better that you stay away from cigarettes and alcohol. Even though these things are bad, no matter how much you tell people not to, they will still take them. It’s still all okay as long as you’re working out. Sabke apne apne funde hai life ke andar! (Everybody has their own take on life).
Coming back to films, something a lot of movie fans might agree with, Andaaz Apna Apna was possibly your best movie. Everybody’s seen it countless number of times. How many times have you seen it?
I’ve not even seen it once. Once actually, when I was dubbing for it, and I saw a little bit of it when it was coming on TV, about five or six years ago. That was really funny because Katrina (Kaif) was watching the film and she was watching it just like that. Everyone around was laughing and she had just started learning Hindi, I remember, she just wouldn’t laugh saying she didn’t understand it. And then one day she was watching something and she called me, asked me check to check out this guy. There’s this new kid who wants to be you. Just look at him. Poor thing he’ll never make it. She was watching Maine Pyar Kiya then!
Would you do an Andaz Apna Apna sequel?
Andaz Apna Apna sequel I will definitely do, if I find the right script. I was on a radio show in Delhi once where they had an Andaz Apna Apna quiz with four levels. I knew nothing. I couldn’t even go beyond the first level. I have done the movie. Strange yaar!
Did it surprise you that the film wasn’t a huge commercial success, despite starring you and Aamir?
People at that time didn’t even know that the movie had released. There was no publicity. It was a very different kind of film. It is generally always the younger generation who laps onto all these types of things. Every minute a child opens his eyes and gets to know of Salman Khan, he screams when he understands Salman Khan. So every minute you have a fan.
Finally, tell us something about your growing up, you were raised in the posh suburb of Bandra?
Yes. Cool, na? There’s a whole lot of new people who’ve come into Bandra. The old guys have all disappeared. Somebody is in Vancouver, some in Toronto, some in New Zealand. All the guys we used to hang out with are not there anymore, apart from Baba (Siddiqui, the local MLA).
Bandra used to be full of cottages. All these buildings have come up now. There’s a green patch right opposite Shah Rukh’s house, where we used to sit as kids. Now we can’t do that any more. That was not his house then. It was Dubash Bungalow.
All our childhood got spent between Sea Rock and that place – lots of sport, cycling through the lanes, robbing mangoes, loving apples, tamarind…. Even boating during the floods. St Paul’s Road used to be flooded and the fishermen used to get their boats out and we used to do boating and all that. If we start boating now, they’ll say kitna heartless admi hai (what a heartless man), it’s flooding and they are messing around.