Patcy N | August 9, 2012
It is difficult to interview Salman Khan and rare to find him in a good mood.
Luckily, both things materialised, and during a late night interview with Patcy N, Salman Khan talked about the soon-to-be-released Ek Tha Tiger, the Rs 100 crore numbers game, and the kind of roles he likes to play.
Your contemporaries Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan have worked with Yash Raj Films. Why did it take so long for you to do so?
There is always a right time and place for everything. Tiger came at the right time and right place, so I did it.
You can’t ask why I took so much time; tomorrow you may ask why I was born in 1965.
What attracted you to the film?
The script. Kabir Khan as director. Katrina Kaif in the main lead. The title Ek Tha Tiger. The production house Yash Raj. And me playing a RAW agent.
‘Katrina recommended my name to Kabir and Adi’
Director Kabir Khan said he had read you the script of Kabul Express…
I asked him to give me the role of a Taliban character in Kabul Express and he thought I was joking.
So how did Ek Tha Tiger happen?
After Kabul Express, Kabir came to narrate a script again and then showed me some clippings. Then he approached Katrina for New York. She was not very keen on doing the film but I told her he was very good, so she went ahead.
For Ek Tha Tiger, Katrina recommended my name to Kabir and Adi (Aditya Chopra, producer) because she had done two films with them.
She told them Salman is the kind of guy you might get along with. He is very hardworking and sincere and has a possibility of becoming a big star. He could perhaps pull this Tiger’s character together and make it work. So they considered me, I did a screen test and passed. Still, they had qualms about signing me. Eventually they felt sad for me and took me (the jokes are delivered with a straight face).
‘The Rs 100 crore of today is the Rs 10 crore of yesteryear’
The movie has been declared a blockbuster even before its release. There is speculation about the box office collections.
Everybody is after the Rs 100 crore figure today. People just want to come to the theatre and watch a good film. If they like it, they will come back with their family and friends.
The more times people watch a film the better it is for the film and the producer, the distributors, the theatre owner, exhibitors, artists and fans. It is good for everybody. It is good for the economy of the country.
Theatres are increasing and so are the fans. Ticket prices are increasing. The Rs 100 crore of today is the Rs 10 crore of yesteryear.
Once the figures start coming from the single screens and small towns and things get more streamlined and there is no black market, then films will fetch Rs 200-300 crore plus. When the system becomes more honest and every ticket is accountable, then we will get a huge amount of business.
Nobody knows what kind of collection is happening in the overseas market. Once the distributors start giving the actual accounts, then we will know the actual figures.
‘My father likes Ek Tha Tiger a lot’
Do you feel pressure about the numbers game as an actor?
No, I don’t feel the pressure. If a film doesn’t do well, it is okay. Move on, the next will do well.
If a film is a hit, it is a good film, it is a terrific film, but if it bombs, you have made a bad film. The audience is always right.
Does your father Salim Khan think Ek Tha Tiger is a good film?
My father likes the film a lot. He said even though it is fiction, the story is very good and also the way it has been treated, as larger than life.
Even a RAW agent will be impressed with this kind of film!
‘I have been beaten up by school teachers, spanked and scolded by my parents in my childhood’
When you were making the movie, you were not keeping well…
But I am Tiger; I don’t have an excuse ke aaj meri tabyat theek nahi, toh aaj main khana nahi la sakta hoon (because my health is bad, I can’t kill for food).
I won’t use the word ‘shikaar’ because it will offend (laughs in an obvious reference to his being hauled up for hunting an endangered species some years ago).
Did you have a problem shooting an action film with your ill health?
No. I have been beaten up by school teachers, spanked and scolded by my parents in my childhood and growing up days, and all these things have been used in this film.
You have to be physically fit to do this. A film like this takes a toll because you are running from morning to evening; you are falling and getting hurt in cold weather.
Sometimes, a scene needs 12 retakes and rehearsals in a day, so it is tiring.
‘When people like something, they call you all kinds of good names’
You are often identified with the characters you play, like you are called Dabangg Salman and Bodyguard Salman?
Jab time achcha hai toh sab kuch chalta hai (during good times, everything is okay). When people like something, they call you all kinds of good names and they also like everything about that film.
For example, when Sholay released it was a disaster for a week. It started picking up in the second week, and then everything about the film became famous — the location, the character actors…
It was the first time in the history of cinema that an audio cassette of dialogues was released.
‘I know people who enjoy watching films with blackmarket tickets’
Your audience are the masses who frequent single theatres…
I don’t believe in mass and class.
If there is a theatre near your house and you have seen all the films since childhood over there, you will go there only. If there is a multiplex that has come up near your house you will watch films there.
I know people who enjoy watching films with blackmarket tickets. The film industry is not benefitted by tickets purchased in black, and you end up paying more. Instead, go to a better theatre, where you may get two tickets for the price of one black ticket.
No doubt single screen theatres are cheaper than multiplexes and people go there as they are comfortable. There is no mass and class in that. One can afford and the other can’t, it is simple.
‘I am lucky that my remakes also did well’
With so many hits, do you think you have tapped the market?
That’s a very dangerous position to be in. I don’t know what to do in my next film. If the script is full-on action, I think to myself, again an action film.
If it is a romantic film, I wonder if it will do well right after an action film. So I don’t know what to do. But then, there’s always the gut feeling that the script is good.
Do you think you are the epitome of the hero?
Being modest I feel that main ek sadaran aadmi hoon, jisse sab logo ne sar pad chadaiya hai (I am an ordinary man who is pampered by everyone).
I am lucky that my remakes also did well. I am at the right place at the right time now. But I have many times been at the wrong place at the wrong time.
‘I am doing a lot of romantic stuff — but not on screen’
When are you going to do a romantic film?
I am doing a lot of romantic stuff — but not on screen (laughs). I am going to do Sooraj Bharjatya’s film soon.
What are you comfortable doing, action or romance?
Romance. There is too much pain in an action film. You have to wake up at wrong hours and do all that action.
You have to fight in dirty places, sometimes in water, sometimes in the sun. Do people really fight on roofs? Why can’t they give us a good mattress to fall on? But no, they will always make you fall on a hard surface.
‘Katrina and I delayed acting together, so that people forget our last pairing’
There was much curiosity when it was announced that you will be paired with Katrina for this film.
The last time we were together was in Yuvraaj (which flopped at the box office).
After that film, I did not think anybody would want to see us together in any film.
That’s why we delayed acting together, so that people forget our last pairing.