Won’t Do Ridiculous, Stupid Shit Anymore: Salman Khan
Salman Khan gets candid about shooting for ‘Sultan’ and his new passion for singing
He’s one of the biggest stars in the country but he’s still bothered about the price you pay for your popcorn and samosa at a multiplex while watching his film. That’s Salman Khan for you, forever controversial and candid the Sultan actor now wants give back to his fans via a new platform that is in the pipeline. I caught up with Salman to chat about Sultan, singing, censorship and more.
Q: In a span of almost 26 years in the industry, this is the first time that a sports drama excited you. But you did have certain apprehensions about Sultan, didn’t you?
Salman Khan: This is the first good sports drama and I liked it. I know Aamir did Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikander, yes, Chak De! India was offered to me but you need Shah Rukh also to do some good films na… (laughs). But you know, at that point of time I was doing Partner and films like those, so my image was totally different.
My only thing with Chak De! India that time was that my fans would want me to wear a skirt to go on the field to play hockey, which clearly would not go with the film. I was like, “This is not my genre…yet!” It was a serious film and I was doing commercial kind of films, which I am still doing and this is the format that I will not move out of.
But there would be meaningful films like Ready and Dabangg, which teach you a lot actually. If you come to think of it, Ready is Aneez Bazmee’s Hum Aapke Hain Koun. It is about getting families together and entertaining them (laughs)… okay, I will not do ridiculous, stupid shit anymore.
I had apprehensions about wearing that langot to look like a wrestler because I was scared. Since time unknown everyone is wearing this, just because Salman Khan, actor, celebrity…. I was slightly inhibited because of that. But it worked out fine. I stopped thinking about other factors and walked in like a pehelwan.
You cannot look a wrestler
till the time you have trained to be a wrestler. I might not be able to fight
in the ring for hours together, but all the forms and the technique, the
movement, I have learnt everything. You know, we have been doing similar stuff
for the last 25 years now but to do all these things together is difficult. But
it worked out pretty okay.
Q: We are seeing you experiment with your character and character traits after a really long time. Has your perception of experimenting with roles changed post Bajrangi Bhaijaan?
Sultan was a difficult film to do but till today the most difficult film to do has been Maine Pyaar Kiya. In that film even while giving cues to Alok Nath, I stammered. I couldn’t say ‘Kyun Babuji?’ So Sooraj (Barjatiya) used to give my cues, especially in the mandir sequence. He told me, “What is going happen to you? How will you make it in the industry?”
On a serious note, whatever I hear in the first narration and if I like it there, I do it. If I hear a script which everyone may praise and I may not think anything of it, I will not do it. If someone asks me to hear the narration again, out of that pressure, I will listen to it again but if I don’t like it in the first narration, or if I don’t get excited listening to it, I will not do the film. I don’t need to do the film for the sake of it, I’ll do Bigg Boss instead.
Q:Your films are packed to be big blockbusters. Do you ever get stressed in the process?
Salman Khan: I don’t take any stress, I deflect it. You need to transfer all the stress and move on, but if the film doesn’t work, you need to help them out too. If you are doing well, you need to work hard and if you are not doing well, then you need to work harder. You can lose your mind in both the situations, if you are not sorted out. If you think that your time is going well and you are doing your stuff, one will come and destroy you. Your ego, your thinking goes all for a toss.
The intuitiveness of the film is the best thing according to me. You should just do films or anything else in life based on your excitement level. If you do something with a lot of calculation, thinking about what territories would benefit if you do a certain film and who would you be able to impress… that is not how it should be done.
For instance if someone asks you to do a film because of certain people in it which would be a blockbuster at the box office, no, the film and only the film should be good enough to make money. So these initial numbers are ridiculous. It is so stupid how the ticket prices have risen so high that we don’t have footfalls but the numbers will eventually be high at the box office. You get very excited about the figures on the first day but honestly, it is the last day’s numbers that actually matters. The end result is what we all should look for.
You know, when we came in the industry, they didn’t come for us but for the film. Now, we have a plus point that they come for us as well as the movie. But the ticket price is so high now that our footfalls have suffered badly and this perhaps would destroy the film industry very quickly.
The industries that have benefited because of this happen to be the Bhojpuri, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi... all these films are doing a Rs 50 crore business on a Rs. 70-80 ticket and we are not able to even do Rs 100 crore on a Rs. 350, Rs. 450 or even a Rs. 950 ticket, which is very sad. In my opinion, the regional industries are much bigger than the Hindi film industry today. Speaking of multiplexes, not just the ticket but popcorn, samosa, ice cream is also at a ridiculous pricing.
Q: Coming back to Sultan, why didn’t you sing the original version of all the songs in the film?
I tried. They didn’t like my voice. How much I pushed them. I said, ‘The fans will like it….’ and they told me that I was not matching up. Then I was like, ‘side mein release kar doon kya?’ and I did it. This was just time pass, I was getting really bored. If you keep doing it regularly, you start learning new things. I am telling you, I did a lot of riyaaz as well.
All the songs are good, they all are my babies. I am doing all the songs in my voice because I just want to learn and I have a different way of thinking right now. When someone does little ungli then I want to know what it is. Everywhere in the world, actors sing in all the musicals. Out here only, just 15 people sing for us. So if you can sing a little bit, I will do it. Very soon what I am going to do with my voice is, the revenue that I will get from it will go on Being Human. I will not have to beg that much.
My version of the songs, I have sung in my hall, at a hotel in Ludhiana and have not gone to the studio to sing. On shows, I am trying to record all the songs I sing on shows. So at least that is my voice that is there. If it turns out bad, then I’ll put someone else’s voice and a little bit of mine. But you know, there should be something which is of me in that. Otherwise since time unknown, we are singing and Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu’s voice is there. Also, I am not a singer and I sing without music. It is an art the way I sing…(laughs).
All the music directors just look at me when I am singing. If you ask me to sing, I will not get one sur right. There is somebody, who is singing one line before me and I am emulating him. I do every 2-3 lines some 15-20 times and then they pick the best parts. It sounds okay, it goes to the studio and then it sounds the way it sounds. I have got some really cool technicians who really like me. I sing the song in 2 hours, they spend 2 -3 days fixing it ( laughs).
Q: For the first time, a game on Sultan has also been released. Have you enjoyed playing it yet?
Salman Khan: I saw the game but don’t know how to play it. I am clumsy with my thumbs. I have been an outdoor person all along. You put me in any sport, I would be able to play.
Many think that I am not a sportsman, but I am. I have played each and every sport and that is the reason why they made me the goodwill ambassador for the Olympics. In my opinion, whoever thought I am not a sportsperson, was misguided by their well-wishers, friends and publicists. They must have done all of that to be a part of the news.
Honestly, I just wanted this one controversy to last longer, so long that everyone knows what Olympics is all about. It just got squashed so quickly. When Sachin (Tendulkar) who plays cricket and AR Rahman who plays music became goodwill ambassadors, no one created any controversy. That is very disheartening. I thought now they will stretch it for another 2-3 weeks, so everyone would know where Rio is. Our generation knew what Olympics was back in the day. We used to see the logo of Olympics on all our brown books, school books… today, there is nothing. The youth doesn’t know much about it.
Q: After turning actor, producer, painter and now a singer…. Is there any other surprise for us in the pipeline?
Salman Khan: Yes, so we are going digital now. We would be having our own platform and is called Being In Touch. But this would happen in a bit. You know Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and platforms like this, don’t have an eye and curtain. So anyone can come and bajao you.
I remember at one point of time, these fan groups of me, SRK, Akshay were trying to abuse each other and we found out who they were. They thought that they are hiding behind their computers. I was about to put out all the information that I had gathered which would have cleaned out everything. But then I thought, why should I stoop down to such a level as their family would have got affected.
If that would have happened, it wouldn’t have gone down well with me. Even if they are huge fans of yours, these things that they do is not acceptable in my eyes at all. So we are starting with Being In Touch, which will be an amalgamation of many small things. It is a gift from me to my fans. All my brands inclusive of Being Human, would give out discounts to fans. There are quite a few friends who have gotten together. But to be on this platform, you would have to come with your real identity.
This would be like a thing where the fans would benefit, as till now, we have just taken things from them and have not thought of giving out a little bit of leverage on the money that they spend. It is time to give back now. We want to know who you are, so that we can interact with you and also so that you are responsible for the comments that you make.
Q: If rumours are to be believed, you happen to be the villain in Dhoom 4. Is it true?
Salman Khan: I don’t know man, they have not asked me yet. See, if Abhishek (Bachchan) and Uday (Chopra) hire all of those people from the previous parts to catch me in the climax, then perhaps I would do it (laughs). I know, it would be a very unfair climax. I am just kidding!
Q: After this sports drama, are you interested in experimenting with other genres as well?
Salman Khan: Not horror for sure. I get scared of horror films. For me, the genre of horror and sex is not for me yet.
Q: Recently the industry came together for the fight against censoring films. As a producer, what do you feel about the whole situation in the industry today?
Salman Khan: You have U certificate, which is a certain kind of film with a certain number of cuts. Same goes for U/A but when there is a film with an A certificate, does it have any cuts? Yes… if you think that A certificate is also not enough for a film, change the rating to X or XX or XXX depending on the content of the film. I’ll share one instance with you.
During Bajrangi Bhaijaan, after all the promos and everything were done, we were told to change the title of our film. I asked why should we change the title Bajrangi Bhaijaan? They were like Bajrangi cannot be Bhaijaan!
I said, “If this man would go to Maharashtra, they would call him Bajrangi Bhau…if he goes to UP, he would be Bajrangi Bhaiya…If he were to go to Punjab, he would be Bajrangi Paaji… he is going to Pakistan, so they call him Bhaijaan. Where is the problem?
Q: We hear you are excited about Kabir Khan’s Tubelight but what all is lined up post that?
Salman Khan: Yes! Speaking of Tubelight, the pressure is only on the script level. If that turns out fine, then it is all okay. We are very excited to do the film. Also, the film with Raj Kumar Santoshi is happening and we are working on the script. There is one film with Atul and baby (Alvira) as well. But I don’t know what exactly it is right now. The sequel to No Entry is not happening as of now. I have got four films to do right now.
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