A Minute With: Salman Khan

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He’s cracked the hit formula while the rest of Bollywood is still searching for it. ‘Dabangg’ shattered box office records, made it cool to hook your sunglasses at the back of your collar and established Salman Khan as the undisputed hero of the masses – the screaming, single-screen, small town masses who form the largest share of the film audience in India. Khan, 45, is back with his next film, ‘Ready,’ a remake of a Telugu film and what he calls a mix of his earlier hits ‘No Entry’ and ‘Hum Aapke Hain Kaun.’ He spoke to us about the film, how he has become more committed to delivering what his audience wants, and why he won’t do a niche film.
Q: Your next film ‘Ready’ is also a remake of a southern film, as was ‘Dabangg.’ What is it about these films that work for you?
A: “It’s a coincidence that the last two films have been remakes. Earlier they used to copy our films. Some of my dad’s films have been remade in the south. Also, when you remake Hollywood films, the whole world has seen them. But these films have not been seen, except for people in the states where they’ve been released. They haven’t let heroism go. Suddenly, we’ve got into rom-coms and love stories and niche films. We started missing heroes. I started missing heroes big time and I’m in the business so I can afford to correct that. ‘Dabangg’ was made for the masses and we were discouraged. We were told cop movie was outdated, it was a new girl, a new director, the overseas audience would never accept it. But we just kept making the film.”
Q: Do you see yourself fitting into any of the niche films that Bollywood is making?
A: (Folds hands and shakes head) “I don’t think anyone is doing that anymore. They’ve come down from Amsterdam to Andheri. It’s not about formula, because if I knew the formula, I would also mess it up. You tend to get carried away and start thinking that the image on the screen is your image. This is the time you have to be very careful.”
Q: Your film was a huge hit in a year when one could barely count the number of films that made money. Have you cracked the formula?
A: “There’s nothing that I am doing right. There was also a time when everybody’s films were working and my films were bombing left right and centre. But I didn’t panic at that point because I knew that those films were going to bomb. There were times when I liked the script but couldn’t put my foot down on the edit or certain scenes, or the way I work – some films I just had to do. But today, I’ve realised one thing, that from the guy who pays 10 rupees to see my film to the guy who pays 500 rupees, I have a responsibility to them. The guy who spends 10 rupees should get 100 rupees back in terms of entertainment.”
Q: You come across as being much more involved in your films than before. You’re thinking about songs and marketing and aspects besides just acting.
A: “I’ve always been like that. But when you get kicked, you go two steps forward.”
Q: You are involved in a lot of charity work with your organisation ‘Being Human.’ Do you tie it up with your film promotions?
A: “No, it doesn’t have anything to do with promoting my films. But if you have time, let’s not just give fake smiles and come away. You are meeting special children, cancer patients and you smile at them, but what after that? Rather than using such things for publicity and PR exercises, let the money go into something worthwhile.”