Whether it is the elan with which he essays varied characters or the roles he performs, or the much-appreciated change in his temperament over the years, Salman Khan, courtesy his huge fan base, has convinced his viewers that even a movie (like “Dabangg”) which, as many say, doesn’t have a strong plot needn’t be a failure! Read on to know what makes him such a hit with the masses…
He sells dreams to the common man. That’s what Salman Khan does. And, since an actor is into business for himself, he is also a shrewd businessman; he has a finger on the pulse of his market, he knows what sells, and when to sell it.
So this is his season.
The countdown to Ramadan – when he doesn’t touch alcohol, and at the end of which, for Eid in August, Salman will reward his fans with his next action film – Ek That Tiger, promotions for which are about to begin. Simultaneously, he is also working on brother Arbaaz’s Dabanng 2, which is slated for a December release. Critics believe he only comes good with Eid releases going by the successes he’s had with Wanted in 2009, Dabanng in 2010 and Bodyguard in 2011; and the box-office duds that were London Dreams, Main Aur Mrs Khanna and Veer, all of which opened outside of Eid in the same years.
But then he’s also had Ready in June 2011, a romantic comedy which opened in the rains and far away from Eid to become the second highest opening day grosser as well as the second highest weekend grossing Bollywood film after Dabanng.
NO FORMULA, NO CAMP FOR SALMAN
Experience has taught him to rely on himself, that there’s no formula for films, and privileged membership to any exclusive Bollywood camp does not guarantee success. It is true that he wears his heart on a sleeve, and he makes a true and loyal friend, that he vibes well with Aamir and is close to Ajay, but Salman is a loner… and especially after his public spat with Shahrukh Khan, he has learned to go his way alone. On the contrary, since his meteoric rise from the ashes and ruins of disasters like Yuvraaj and God Tussi Great Ho, it is most of Bollywood that is trying to get into Salman’s good books ever since he hit big time again with Wanted in 2009. He might be sentimental, but he is not silly; and you could count the number of people on the fingers of one hand whom Salman would admit belong to his inner circle and are not of his immediate Khandaan.
He has a gut instinct about his work, he knows when he has done a good job, and when the promos of his forthcoming release excite people, but still there’s always uncertainty.
Will the critics junk the film, the audiences appreciate it, the box-office rate it a runaway hit? “If the film is successful, the success will be attributed to just about anybody; but, God forbid, if it fails, the hero gets the jhaapad,” he once said philosophically.
But that was long ago. Before he rewrote Bollywood history with Wanted in 2009, before he clawed his way back to superstardom with Dabanng in 2010. Since then, Salman Khan has changed and how!
Aware that his films ride on the sheer strength of his personality alone, and not his acting ability – which is suspect, he charmingly goes all out to woo the media and promote any new venture. “This is now part of an actor’s job,” he admitted. “First there used to be only Doordarshan and Ameen Sayani on AIR, there were hoardings and posters, now there’s a competitive media, and 15-20 press interviews to give. Who knows who is watching what and when! Everybody’s so busy. So the producer’s principle is – hammer them with everything. Jitna kar sakta hai, karo!”
Which is what he is reluctantly getting ready to do right now with Ek Tha Tiger just a month and half away from release.
BUT WHAT MAKES SALMAN KHAN TICK?
HIS ‘BODY’ OF WORK
It really cannot be his body anymore because this is no longer the late 1990s and early 2000s, when there was just Sanjay Dutt and him who represented machismo in Bollywood. Salman is now 47, he’s been acting since 1989, and he’s abused his body with smoking and drinking and action scenes that have left him bruised and battered and feeling his age. Besides which, there are younger actors and rising stars with leaner and fitter (if not better) bodies to show, and Bollywood veterans like Aamir and Shahrukh and Ajay and Akshay who have come to be savvy where it comes to selling their souls on screen by exposing a six pack in the guise of sex appeal.
HE PACKS QUITE A PUNCH
To overcome this threat from the male Bollywood brigade, Salman learned to take his action scenes a notch higher. “If the action is backed with emotion, it turns out right,” he once said. “It’s not action for the sake of action, the emotion is at a different plane, the fight is not from the body – it’s from the heart.” And having made that discovery, he went on to realize that if he walked like the character in the film, and talked like him, then people tended to believe in him a lot more. Why? “Simply because we need heroes,” he reasoned, “It’s not that I identify with the character I play, but 20 years in films has given me a confidence, an intensity, that was not there earlier.” Meaning, Salman Khan’s on-screen image and off-screen personality are one and the same for fans. Other actors too do stunts, they have body doubles, use pulleys and cables, and producers hire foreign stunt experts, but when Salman goes on the sets he is aware that everybody is watching… so he has to make the action look better.