Birthday Special: The Rise AND Rise Of Salman Khan
Twenty four years ago, the scrawny son of star-writer Salim Khan started out playing a supporting role.
Twenty four years later, he's a reigning superstar showered with unbelievable affection by his fans and dubbed Bollywood's most reliable force.
From being controversy's favourite child to industry's most in demand actor, Salman Khan has truly turned the tide.
The Dabangg dude turns 47 today. Here's looking at how incredibly he has fared in this 24-year-old career.
The Big Bollywood debut
In his first film, a 23-year-old Salman played the hero's brother in a heroine-oriented subject. His voice was dubbed by someone else and he was a grouchy brat for most part in it.
Thankfully, Biwi Ho To Aisi was not his official launch pad.
God Bless Sooraj R Barjatya for seeing potential in his big, poetic eyes and cast him as Prem, a name that would be associated with him for years to come, along with Bhagyashree's Suman to reintroduce him to the world as the man who believes 'Dosti ki hai nibhani toh padegi.'
Maine Pyaar Kiya was an instant blockbuster and the newbies became a rage among teenyboppers.
Image: Salman Khan in Maine Pyaar Kiya
The Wonder Years
Credited for its story idea, Salman Khan worked in Baaghi: A Rebel for Love opposite Nagma. The film was a moderate success and best remembered for Anand-Milind's hit songs and his appearance in a bikini as part of a ragging scene in college.
The year kept him busy with a good five releases to his credit.
Cashing on his romantic hero imagine, Salman wooed new faces Chandni, Ayesha Jhulka, Raveena Tandon in contrived fare like Sanam Bewafa, Kurbaan and Patthar Ke Phool but earned appreciation for his Mili-inspired Love with Revathy and finally a grand hit in the love-triangle Saajan co-starring Sanjay Dutt and Madhuri Dixit.
Image: Salman Khan in Saajan
Post-Saajan, things just nose dived for the actor. 1992 was disastrous with all his four releases becoming the biggest flops of his career.
Suryavanshi, a reincarnation drama based on his own idea, tanked miserably followed by the long-forgotten Nishchay and Jaagruti. Even the sweet pairing of him and Neelam in the remake of Garry Marshall's Overboard -- Ek Ladka Ek Ladki didn't find any takers.
This year he romanced both the numero unos of Bollywood -- Sridevi in Chandramukhi and Madhuri Dixit in Dil Tera Ashhiq. Nothing came out of it either.
Image: Salman Khan in Surayavanshi
Just when Salman Khan's career appeared to inch dangerously close to the finishing line, Sooraj R Barjatya came to his rescue yet again with the unprecedented success of his song-packed wedding-themed family drama, Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!
Even though his co-star Madhuri Dixit got more mileage out of it, Salman garnered appreciation for his restrained, charming performance.
His other release that year, Andaz Apna Apna, also featuring Aamir Khan, showed his goofy side but wasn't a box-office smash. Only it would go on to become a comic classic and the MOST loved films on his resume.
The presence of these two heavyweights made it easy to overlook the existence of obscure fare like Chand Ka Tukda and Sangdil Sanam.
Ready to get out of his mushy comfort zone, a newly beefed up Salman Khan turned full-on macho for action flicks like Karan Arjun and Veergati.
While Rakesh Roshan's reincarnation/revenge drama co-starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol minted major money at the box-office, the lukewarm reception to Veergati left our hero a tad heartbroken.
Image: Salman Khan in Andaz Apna Apna
Bouquets And Brickbats
A mixed bag year, this. While Salman played second fiddle to Sunny Deol in the superhit Raj Kanwar potboiler Jeet, he oozed radiance and warmth and Manisha Koirala's supportive beau in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's directorial debut, Khamoshi: The Musical.
In between there was some tripe called Majhdhaar with Rahul Roy and Koirala again.
Salman channeled his inner comedian with unabashed conviction in a double role for David Dhawan's mindless but entertaining Judwaa.
Next, he alternated between dancing in a pair of tiny shorts and playing a dynamic cop in kid brother Sohail Khan's directorial debut, Auzaar.
The latter with not so much success.
Image: Salman Khan in Judwaa
Box Office Hits Galore
Though Shah Rukh Khan was pretty much all over the place, this year turned out just fine for Salman as well. His immensely likeable appearance in Karan Johar's Kuch Kuch Hota Hai earned him laurels as well as awards.
Meanwhile, Sohail got it right with Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya featuring both his brothers -- Salman and Arbaaz.
Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota Hai, too, hit the jackpot with the actor playing a compulsive flirt turned reluctant daddy. Even the jarringly melodramatic Bandhan underscoring Salman's status as an exemplary 'bhai' made money.
Despite having a release every few months, Salman Khan wasn't facing the trouble of overexposure.
Of his five releases, three of them were hits -- Biwi No 1, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Hum Saath Saath Hain and two didn't work -- Janam Samjha Karo and Hello Brother (in which he sang one of the songs -- Chaandi ki daal par sone ka mor). But since even his flops featured chartbusters, no one really noticed.
Also the grand success of HDDCS made everyone sit up and take notice of his special chemistry with Aishwarya Rai, later leading to an unmemorable romance.
Image: Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam
The new millennium didn't exactly start on a crackling note.
Most of his romantic comedies, with catchy soundtrack, failed to bring the audiences in.
But the ticket sales of the desi version of While You Were Sleeping aka Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega, teaming him up with the effervescent Preity Zinta and stunning Rani Mukerji, made up for the unenthusiastic reception to Kahin Pyaar Na Ho Jaaye, Chal Mere Bhai and Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge.
This year, rather unusually, Salman Khan had only one release.
The Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega troika proved to be a successful combination for Abbas Mastan's kerchief caper Chori Chori Chupke Chupke as well.
Image: Rani Mukerji, Salman Khan and Preity Zinta in Chori Chori Chupke Chupke
Not a good year at all. On a personal level, the celebrity drew massive criticism for the rash driving incident.
Professionally too, all his three films -- Tumko Na Bhool Payenge, Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam and Yeh Hai Jalwa underperformed at the box-office.
Controversy continued to hound him.
First, reports of Vivek Oberoi claiming to receive threats from him popped up following a scathing public statement released by his now reportedly ex-girlfriend Aishwarya.
While his reputation took blows, his films surprisingly did not. Both Tere Naam and a special appearance in Baghban earned him praise from critics and public.
Image: Salman Khan in Tere Naam
Finding Favours With Comedy
Putting the scandals behind him, Salman concentrated on work with his portrayal of a daring cop under Puneet Issar's terrible direction in Garv and a bereaved businessman in Dil Ne Jise Apna Kaha under brother-in-law Atul Agnihotri's inexperienced hands.
Luckily, David Dhawan's characteristic traits saved the day as viewers loved his cat and mouse game against Akshay Kumar over Priyanka Chopra in Mujhse Shaadi Karogi.
Multiple Salman starrers hit the screens.
But only some prevailed. Despite the promise, Kyon Ki or Lucky: No Time For Love didn't quite take off.
Audience preferred his loony antics while chasing Katrina Kaif in Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya as his love guru gyaan to Anil Kapoor and Fardeen Khan in an extended cameo of No Entry.
Image: Salman Khan in Garv
The Hit-making Partners
The 2000 infamous black-buck hunting case returned to haunt Salman again after he was sentenced to one year in prison for hunting an endangered species by a court in Jodhpur.
All his three releases that year -- Baabul, Jaan-E-Mann, Shaadi Karke Phas Gaya Yaar crashed at the box-office as well.
In mid-2007, amid great media frenzy, the actor was arrested and imprisoned but released on bail after spending six nights behind bars.
On work front, his multi-starrer Salaam-E-Ishq, along the lines of UK's Love Actually, bombed as did his Indo-US joint venture, Marigold opposite Heroes' Ali Larter.
His fans, however, along with that of Govinda's, were more than happy to see the duo do Bollywood's version of Hitch in David Dhawan's Partner.
Image: Salman Khan and Govinda in Partner
Being Wanted Again
Salman Khan's penchant for making headlines of the wrong kind continued after news of his brawl with friend Shah Rukh Khan at alleged girlfriend Katrina Kaif's birthday party in 2008 reached media offices.
The Khans have acknowledged this open resentment since then. Clearly, an unhappy Salman translates to unhappy box-office figures too. Heroes, Yuvvraaj, God Tussi Great Ho were not just awful, they were plain abysmal.
The only good thing that year? Unveiling of his wax statue at United Kingdom's Madame Tussauds Museum alongside Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai and SRK.
But then came 2009 and things just got bigger and better and unstoppable for this star.
With bloopers like Main Aur Mrs Khanna and London Dreams out of the way, the face of Being Human flexed his might in the Hindi remake of Telugu hit, Pokiri.
Wanted's huge success and Salman's cocky swagger and commitment claims made everyone look at his on screen heroics in a new light.
Image: Salman Khan in Yuvvraaj
Even though Veer, for which he hit the gym more than usual, aspired for similar glory, its absurd plot made the events seem too daft to humor.
That wasn't the case with Salman's turn as the self-styled cop Chulbul 'Robinhood' Pandey in Dabangg.
With a punch line for every occasion and a slo-mo kick that never missed, Salman's invincibility was now likened to Rajnikanth and Chuck Norris.
He also signed up to host the popular reality television series, Bigg Boss Season 4, boosting its TRPs like no one before. After sporadically co-hosting season five with Sanjay Dutt, he's back to calling the shots in its current (sixth) season.
In this bumper year, Salman took over the box-office and called it home with back to back hits -- Ready and Bodyguard that defied quality, intelligence and logic.
And still, evidently, pleased many among us to make ridiculous amount of money.
This astonishing degree of success tempted contemporaries to go on a signing spree of official remakes of South Indian films boasting of similar high jinks and over-the-top treatment.
While the recently released Dabangg sequel isn't in the same league as its original; it's doing its primary purpose of bringing the crowds in.
Earlier this year, he rocked and roared as an undercover Indian spy with Yashraj Films' Ek Tha Tiger co-starring Katrina Kaif. And won rave reviews too.
From Prem to Pandey, the going's good for this Khan.
Image: Salman Khan in Dabangg 2