Exclusive | Being a Painter: The Other Side of Salman Khan
Meet Salman Khan, the painter. 
Meet Salman Khan, the painter. (Photo courtesy: Salamat Husain)

Exclusive | Being a Painter: The Other Side of Salman Khan

A never-before-seen set of monochrome ink, acrylic and charcoal paintings on rough textures - by the prime superstar and occasional painter Salman Khan - is up on the drawing room’s side-walls of the Khan family house in Galaxy Apartments, Bandra.

Even by exacting artistic standards, the portraits of Christ, a veiled face and of women with reposeful, pious faces, indicate a major progress in Salman Khan’s painting endeavours since over a decade.

Salman Khan’s paintings decorate the walls of Salim Khan’s home.
Salman Khan’s paintings decorate the walls of Salim Khan’s home.
(Photo: Khalid Mohamed)

“His instinct for painting comes in waves,” says his father Salim Khan. “Whenever he’s inspired or is in the mood, he paints, whether he’s at home or at our Panvel farmhouse.” The doting dad doesn’t get expansive about Salman’s artistic evolution, except for stating, “Perhaps, he could have been an artist if he hadn’t become an actor.”

Going by the unfussily framed portraits, you’re inclined to agree. If there wasn’t a built-in prejudice about Bollywood stars, chances are that especially, Salman’s monochrome portraits would have been acknowledged as significant works by the arterati.

At least that’s the conclusion I come to on noticing the bold strokes in the black images on rough brown-beige textures.

Salman Khan’s paintings framed on the walls of Salim Khan’s drawing room.
Salman Khan’s paintings framed on the walls of Salim Khan’s drawing room.
(Photo: Khalid Mohamed)

Given to sketching casually during his teenage years, Salman extended to painting canvases, guided by art student Nilesh Vede. Thus far, scores of his canvases have been auctioned, the proceeds of which have gone to his NGO Being Human.

Among his initial artworks, the themes have extolled the need for secularism through images of Gautam Buddha, Jesus Christ and Lord Shiva.

Salman Khan caught in the midst of his painting binge.
Salman Khan caught in the midst of his painting binge.
(Photo: Salamat Husain)
Reportedly, once when a canvas depicting a mother and child fetched a bid of Rs 20 lakhs, the actor had withdrawn it from an auction. Eventually, the same canvas fetched Rs 2.5 crore.
A funky painting by Salman Khan gifted to his sister Arpita.
A funky painting by Salman Khan gifted to his sister Arpita.
(Photo Courtesy: Khalid Mohamed)

Among the film enclave, he is known to have gifted his artworks to Helen, Sridevi and Boney Kapoor besides a black-and-white portrait of Raj Kapoor to his grandson Ranbir Kapoor, and a take on Ghajini to Aamir Khan shortly before the film’s release.

One Khan canvas harked back to his film Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.

Salman Khan’s painting which alludes to <i>Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. </i>
Salman Khan’s painting which alludes to Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.
(Photo Courtesy: Khalid Mohamed)

A canvas, alluding to Bajrangi Bhaijaan, was gifted to the film’s leading lady Kareena Kapoor.

Over time, I’ve seen attempts at artworks by film artistes, including a couple of canvases by Dimple Kapadia. “I’m taking lessons,” she had stated. “I’m just a Sunday painter, I wouldn’t dare to show my attempts to anyone but to my family and close friends.”

An enormous collection of excellent paintings in ink and oil paints by the late stalwart actor Ashok Kumar, have unfortunately gone missing. Only a very few have survived, one of them being an aesthetic rendition of a nude woman, which is in the possession of his daughter Bharati Jaffrey. “I have received countless offers from art lovers for the artwork,” she says, “But I don’t have the heart to sell it.”
An aesthetic rendition of a nude woman by the late Ashok Kumar.
An aesthetic rendition of a nude woman by the late Ashok Kumar.
(Photo Courtesy: Khalid Mohamed)

Of the present-day actors-cum-artists, Salman Khan’s works – especially those on the walls of Galaxy Apartments - assert that he could be a professional Painter Babu, that’s if he chooses to.

(The writer is a film critic, filmmaker, theatre director and weekend painter.)

(This article is from The Quint’s archives and was first published on 21 November 2017. It is now being republished to mark Salman Khan’s birthday.)

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