Salman Khan on the consistency of his stardom, working with Prabhu Deva in Dabangg 3 and if he'll ever play a villain
Salman Khan interview: Action doesn’t make sense till the time you don’t have emotions backing it. It doesn’t matter if you jump, punch, kick or the numbers of fighters you fight. Without emotions action is meaningless.
With Salman Khan’s action-comedy Dabangg 3 coming up for release, Mehboob studio, in Bandra, Mumbai — a hub for the Bollywood superstar — is buzzing with activity. And this time it is not just about Salman promoting the third edition of his cop drama, he has also started shooting for his next – Radhey, yet another cop drama, which he is set to bring to the audience on Eid 2020.
So ‘Bhai’ has a number of things to do after he arrives into the studio. After a bunch of interviews, meetings (with his childhood friend and director-choreographer Farah Khan), and overseeing the development on his next film, Salman, dressed in an olive green t-shirt and jeans, settles down for a chat. As usual, his mood varies from serious, fun, detailed and at times just monosyllabic.
When you started off with Dabangg was there ever a thought that you could turn this into a franchise?
The last scene of Dabangg which we shot, we gave a hint that we might come out with the next one. Arbaaz felt it would look a bit pompous as if the film will definitely work and that we want to make the sequel. I didn’t bother much and said it is okay, let’s see, if it works well and good, and if not, there is nothing that we could do. So, we let the scene be there. We shot that scene in a temple and the film was also appreciated and we went ahead with the sequel and now the third one. Now, after two films, today, the minute I walk into the Dabangg set, I stop being Salman Khan, the actor, and become Chulbul Pandey. Sonakshi also transforms instantly into Rajjo. That's how it is with the whole cast; we have become a real family.
But how challenging it is to take a franchise further?
It is very difficult but this has fallen in place and so is the fourth one (laughs). It happens sometimes like for instance Stallone’s Rocky series or the Rambo series.
Along with producing, you have also written the film..
I came up with a thought and Arbaaz and I just kept on improvising, brainstorming. We wanted to start from the present and go in the past to track the journey of Chulbul Pandey and how his past comes into his present. It’s not entirely a prequel. The whole film isn’t set in the past. The thought was to begin the film with an idea and then go back to how my character became Chulbul Pandey, and then, his past meets his present and how Chulbul has to deal with that.
Could you relate to some of the characteristics of Chulbul Pandey from the past? How you were in your younger days versus how he is..
No, not at all..So Chulbul (thinks hard) was a simple boy (laughs out loud).
Your throwback picture with the film’s other heroine Saiee Manjrekar went viral on the internet. From meeting her as a kid to now working with her, what are your thoughts?
She has done a wonderful job. I will be shocked if this industry doesn’t get a big star after Dabangg 3.
Over the course of time you have cemented your position as an action star. You are considered to be a pro when it comes to high octane action movies which end up as blockbusters. What is the secret for success?
When I used to go to watch films, I used to come out of theatre in awe of the hero and think about becoming one. That is the same funda I am using now. I don’t think anything works better than heroism. But if there is no emotion in a film then action is mindless. Heroism doesn’t mean you’re just romancing a girl. It means doing something for someone against all odds and you make that happen. Action doesn’t make sense till the time you don’t have emotions backing it. It doesn’t matter if you jump, punch, kick or the numbers of fighters you fight. Without emotions action is meaningless.
Who coined the name Chulbul Pandey for your character in the film?
Actually Arbaaz brought the idea of Dabangg to me. It was supposed to be a small and a very dark film and we wanted to make it within two crore, our budget for the film was just that much. At that point of time, it had Randeep Hooda and Arbaaz. So Arbaaz said he has been approached for this and it’s a good story so just hear it. Then six-eight months passed before I finally heard it. I think UTV was supposed to do it. I liked the feel of the film but Chulbul was out and out negative. I then suggested some changes to Arbaaz, and Abhinav (Kashyap, Director) incorporated them. That film didn’t have any action, certainly not at this scale, and there were no songs. We started working on it and Abhinav agreed to all those changes. He did a very good job with the first one. So with the changes, songs, romance and humour came in. Also the character became positive and the film worked. Then we asked Abhinav to make a sequel but he was not so inclined for whatever reasons known to him.
Would you consider playing an antagonist in a film?
(Pauses) Well, it depends.
Your first blockbuster Maine Pyar Kiya completes 30 years on 29 December. How does it feel?
It feels like day before yesterday. I was looking out for work and I signed the film, yesterday it released and today I am in this position here. So the journey of these 30 years goes from day before yesterday, yesterday and today..that is how quickly this journey has happened.
What kind of freshness has Prabhu Deva brought to this film?
He has contributed a lot to this film. Heroism in South is very different and that is what he has brought to Dabangg 3. He understands the genre of heroism, he understands romance, humour, comedy, emotion. He is too good with song-and-dance and what dance should go with which song. It is good for me also.
Recently, in an interview you spoke about a crossover between Chulbul, Radhey and Devil..
I just said it in jest..Aise hi maine bol diya. Don’t take me seriously on everything.
What made you think that Saiee Manjrekar was the perfect choice for Dabangg 3?
We had seen her and then we wrote the character. So we knew she was the girl for the film. It was just an instinct. Like how we had it with Sona (Sonakshi Sinha). The way she was in the film, before we signed her, she looked nothing like that. But there was faith and intuition that she would be Rajjo.
There were reports about Preity Zinta’s cameo in Dabangg 3 after she posted a picture in uniform with your character Chulbul Pandey on social media..
Preity Zinta wanted to do something for Halloween. She wanted to dress up as a cop. I was shooting some patchwork on the last day of Dabangg shoot at the farm when suddenly I saw her in cop uniform. I went back and changed into Chulbul Pandey’s uniform, moustache and clicked pictures with her. I love her, so I do all these things. She has good energy.
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