Rajiv Vijayakar, Oct 2, 2012
He has never been known to mince words, and tells it like it is. Salim Khan, the handsome son of a high-ranking police officer in Indore, came to Mumbai to act, did not become very successful despite some lead roles, and began writing films as he had a flair for it, beginning with the Ashok Kumar-Jeetendra-Mala Sinha’s average success Do Bhai in 1970. In 1971, he teamed up with Javed Akhtar to form the cult Salim-Javed duo, that spun blockbusters like Haathi Mere Saathi, Seeta Aur Geeta, Zanjeer, Yaadon Ki Baraat, Deewaar, Sholay, Chacha Bhatija, Don, Trishul, Shaan, Kranti, Shakti and Mr. India in the next 17 years. When his partner split with him, he continued solo for the next decade, writing films like Naam.
Today, Salim Khan is busy writing articles, distributing movies and overseeing (officially or otherwise) the scripts of films starring his sons, including of course Salman Khan. In a candid conversation, the veteran writer, known for his no-nonsense stand on matters from cinema to everything else, speaks his mind.
What do you have to say about the spectacular success of Ek Tha Tiger?
That contrary to what people think, its success is neither a fluke nor an ittefaq. I was the first to watch the film and it was so foolproof that I told them that it was a 110 percent hit! I was asked for my opinion and suggestions at that stage but there was nothing that needed modification. In fact, I was so confident about ETT that I came home and told Arbaaz (Khan) to hold selling the rights of Dabangg 2 till Ek Tha Tiger released as it would help get a better price.
You are almost always involved in your children’s films. Why is it that so far you have only been credited in just a couple of films?
The tradition of script-doctors is very old in Hollywood, and it’s when I get payment that I am officially credited! But I must stress that involvement is a misunderstood term. For me, ‘involvement’ is when the motive is good, and when it is for the betterment of a film. There is a different kind of involvement that is ego-based and selfish, which usually has a bad effect and is better called interference. Most intelligent actors always get involved in their films, including my son Salman.
What is your own take on Salman Khan’s unprecedented success streak more than 20 years after he began shooting for his first film Biwi Ho To Aisi on September 9, 1987?
It was long overdue. I have always said that he had not delivered what he promised, or was capable of, till now. I always told him that he had to be serious and that the moment he became serious he would go where he is today. Salman always had it in him - he was credible in the fight sequences, could dance well, and was good at romance, comedy and drama.
So why do you say that he was not serious?
By that I mean that he took undue risks. There are so many times jab ussne dosti mein film kar li (accepted films to oblige friends), or did films because someone told him a sob story. He has done a record number of guest roles that did not save the films but added flops to his name, because the moment he came in for a cameo that needed a few days’ work it was projected as a Salman Khan film, and that disappointed audiences.
Post-Wanted and Dabangg, Salman Khan is more or less branded in a certain image.
I do not see anything wrong in that. John Wayne spent a lifetime in one kind of role and became a legend, so did Clint Eastwood who when he experimented did not work. There is nothing wrong in capitalizing on one’s strengths because audience expectations must be met. Helen was best at dance, Meena Kumari at a certain kind of role, and so also so many famous comedians.
Today, with the kind of monies his films get in, their budget has gone up so much that you cannot take a chance. You cannot show him as a loser, a man who wants to commit suicide, or as a weakling.
What would be your advice to your son at this point?
I have always told him never to get excited with success or depressed with failure. Success is not a permanent phase, and everyone keeps growing older. Today, a Salman Khan film promises wholesome entertainment and he has to deliver each time.
Rest at bollywood hungama
Wonderful interview and very true!! God Bless Salman Bro and His Dad and Family!!!