While awaiting Salman Khan‘s arrival in the conference room of Taj Land’s End overlooking the gorgeous Arabian sea, I was downing a cup of hot coffee and wondering how intimidating the superstar was on a scale of 1 to 10. In the past, I had been told by a lot of fellow journalists that our bhai jaan is rather moody and sometimes it’s quite a task to get him to give non-monosyllabic answers during interviews. So I wasn’t sure what to anticipate. But when Sallu miya entered the venue, I was instantly awed by his presence. Thankfully, he was in one of his best moods and he spoke endlessly about his journey in Bollywood when I congratulated him for completing 27 years in the industry. Before that, he shared what makes Bajrangi Bhaijaan special. Excerpts.
Even though I am playing a realistic character, it is still larger than life. The film is made on a grand scale. It’s by far the biggest character that I have played. I had to put a lot of hard work in it. Bajrangi Bhaijaan will bring back the innocence that I had in Maine Pyar Kiya.
Harshali Malhotra (the child actor in Bajrangi Bhaijaan) is like a grown up woman just like a diva. When and if she becomes big and becomes the lead actress, she will give all the other actresses a run for the money. The first thing she told me when I met her was, ‘Aap mujhe aap ki tarah ek superstar bana do na please.’ I thought her mother would have told her but that wasn’t the case. She has set her goals at such a young age. I hope she doesn’t lose her innocence with all the attention she is getting. She is an amazing actor with an impeccable timing.
I had signed Maine Pyar Kiya on 4th April in 1988. I am still trying to find out when I had signed my first film, Biwi Ho Toh Aisi. Many people don’t know that J.K. Bihari‘s Biwi Ho Toh Aisi marked my entry in the industry. Maine Pyar Kiya was my big break but it wasn’t my debut film. Many actors had refused to sign Bihari’s movie, so he had said, ‘Ab koi idiot bhi aayega iis garage mein (his office was inside a garage) toh main uuse sign kar loonga. I will sign the next boy who enters this room.’ And then I entered. I was the lucky one. And by lucky, I do mean I was lucky. That’s because no Rajshri hero has ever worked. Everyone is a one-film wonder. They did movies after their debut but none of them really managed to become a star like I did. So thank God Maine Pyar Kiya was not my debut movie.
Life ka ambition tha 10 lakh rupaye kamaao, uusko bank mein daalo and uuske interests pe jiyo.
Aamir was doing really well, Bandra boy. It was a big bojh on my chaati. So when he came, I realized if I don’t make it, I will get screwed. Bandra mein toh reh nahi paunga, Ghatkopar jaake rehna padega. Ya phir from Bandra to Bhayander.
Maine Pyar Kiya broke Sholay‘s records. It turned out to be a very big hit. But I wasn’t offered anything six months after that. I was sitting at home. I thought the Rajshree myth was coming true for me too! Hero ko kaam nahin milta.
My dad went to director G. P. Sippy and asked him to sign me for a film. So then this came out in the news. So we created fake news so that logon ko lage ki ladke ko kaam mil raha hai.
I once got an offer to do an adaptation of a Bengali film starring Mithun Chakraborty. It had 17 brothers. I said, ‘Mera number kab aayega? Koi line vine kuch nahin tha’. I was chosen to play the 17th brother. The director said, ‘Are tera kuch nahin hone wala. Tu karle yeh film’. I said, ‘Main mar jaunga par aisa role nahin karunga.’
I met Kabir Khan when he came to me to narrate Kabul Express. I heard the script and I said, ‘I wanna play the Taliban’s characters’. He thought I was joking. I told him I was serious and he told me that he will get back to me. He never did. Then I heard he did the movie with John Abraham and Arshad Warsi. I didn’t want to play the ‘scared guy’ roles. Then Katrina (Kaif) had refused to do this film called New York. When I heard it was by the same director who had once narrated me Kabul Express, I told her, ‘You will be the biggest fool if you don’t do this film’. So she did it and then Ek Tha Tiger happened.
I did Suryavanshi with Vijay Galani. I had taken 11 lakh rupees for it that time. He owes me 15 crores for Veer and now, he has sued me for 200 crores (laughs). He is a very dear friend from 15 years. Na main woh paise chhodunga aur na hi woh dosti chhodunga.
I have released two films with Shah Rukh Khan – Jaan-E-Man with Don, Saawariya with Om Shanti Om. Both the times, his track record has been 100 per cent. If anyone has to worry, it is me.
Isn’t bhai such a rockstar?