With Zee5's Pinch, Arbaaz Khan takes charge of his career, finally stepping out of the shadows
Arbaaz is doing a fine job of it too, with the show clocking over a million views, and the host sporting a firm yet friendly demeanour throughout the programme
Not too many people get a shot at building a second career in showbiz. This applies appropriately to people from film families. Arbaaz Khan has been able to do so, albeit in a different role. He turns show host for Pinch, a longish version of Mean Tweets, with his celebrity buddies squirming and doing their best to look nonchalant even as some of those nasty remarks get under their skin. And Arbaaz is doing a fine job of it too, with the show clocking over a million views, and the host sporting a firm yet friendly demeanour throughout the programme. He makes for a good host, confident, and emphatic.
His ability to relate to celebrities and share empathy for them perhaps emerges from his own life. Arbaaz Khan personifies living life in a shadow so overpowering that one just can’t shake it off.
He began acting 23 years ago, appeared in decent films but never made a substantial dent. Now, as a talk show host, he revives his strengths of communication and conversation, one that he had displayed earlier too by co-hosting a cricket show on a news channel.
It hasn’t been an easy ride to success for Arbaaz, despite being Salman Khan’s brother. He made his debut with Daraar in 1996, an unofficial copy of Sleeping with the Enemy. His performance won him praise. In the same year, Nana Patekar acted in a similar role of a murderous and possessive husband in Agni Sakshi, again winning accolades. Arbaaz began to appear in multi-starrers and comedies frequently, having worked with top directors of the time like Priyadarshan, Sanjay Gupta and also David Dhawan. While the films did well, Arbaaz’s skill of playing grey characters stayed on the fringe. This was a period in Hindi films when content0-oriented films were very far away from the mainstream and those who didn’t fit into the mould of a mainstream hero, didn’t make the cut.
His marriage to Malaika Arora Khan got him a lot of media attention, often photographed as a power couple.
One gains fair perspective of Arbaaz’s personality in his interactions with media. Always standing by his temperamental superstar brother when he would get chased by photographers, journalists and video cameras during court hearings for his criminal cases, Arbaaz would field media queries and lead public relations. In more ways than one, he is the smooth public relations face of his controversial brother. In fact, he had joked quite a few times that their father, Salim Khan, scanned newspapers daily to spot just what latest controversy Salman was embroiled in, and then rued over it with Arbaaz. His camaraderie with Salman is warm and effortless, which explains their ability to collaborate on films together.Currently, both are working on Dabanng 3.
As producer, he came across as responsible and hands on, a role that he took ahead by directing Dabangg 2, the hit sequel to Dabangg. Yet, Arbaaz’s career as a producer, like acting, has ebbed and flown.
He quoted financial stress as primary motive for him taking to illegal betting on cricket. When law enforcement agencies questioned Arbaaz for his involvement with a bookie, it was a fall from grace for the milder Khan brother. And it’s sad too, for his passion for cricket runs deep.
Arbaaz has always enjoyed a conversation, be it about cinema, current affairs, politics, or his passion, cricket. While hosting a cricket show for a news channel where I worked, he would spend the time between telecasts talking to us on different desks. He observed keenly the ways and means of news networks, what worked and how a story could be scaled up and made big. No celebrity baggage accompanied him in these stints. As cricket co-host, his understanding and love for the game was evident.
With Pinch, Arbaaz has made a fresh start, setting aside a run in with the law, a tumultuous personal life, and his baggage as failed actor. Living in the shadow of a very successful sibling is hard on most people. In cases of celebrity families, it gets a lot more difficult given constant public scrutiny. That Arbaaz is working to revive himself despite this, is laudable. And he is fun to watch on the couch.
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