What makes Salman the coolest Khan
The first of a two-part special, celebrating the superstar who starred in the biggest Hindi hit ever, 2010's Dabbang.
You can tell a lot about a megastar by the way he throws his punch.
A Hindi film hero might routinely fell over seven with one blow, but each has their own approach. Aamir Khan, all bloodshot eyes and biceps rippling with the fury of thousands of killed wives to avenge, brings both physical intensity and a sense of inescapable irony to the picture.
Shah Rukh Khan, his every sinew straining with gargantuan effort, bellows like a wounded animal as he metamorphoses from charming lover to crazied aggressor.Salman Khan doesn't bother breaking a sweat or even trying for realism as he buffets his opponents, effort be damned, smirk and quip steadily in place. The ubiquitous one-liner just underlines how one-sided the battle always is because Salman Khan is larger than life. And he believes it.
Image: Salman Khan in Dabangg, the biggest Hindi movie hit ever!
The Incredible Salman
Eternal romantic Shah Rukh would have been laughed out of theatres for trying to do the same. Aamir would have had to write a longish blog-post explaining how the scene was all a metaphor, or, somehow, Meta.
Salman earned whistles, his film becoming one of the most successful in the history of Indian cinema.
Image: Salman Khan as the hugely entertaining Chulbul Pandey in Dabangg
In no mood for niceties, he struts, chest out, upto a studio chair, parks himself on it, and turns to them. In a brutal show of strength and savvy, he preempts the questions they want to ask him, throwing out monosyllabic answers to each. "Aur kucch?"
The reporters, used to standard-issue questionnaires, are flummoxed and bereft of fresh queries, and Khan is pleased as punch. He relaxes, blows his nose into a big kerchief, and swaggers out. All in less than five minutes.
Image: Dabangg was produced by Arbaz Khan, Salman's younger brother
'I have been fortunate with the kind of women I've met'
He warily grunts through the first few questions until I ask, young man to forever-swaggering man, where on earth he meets women. "You can't be serious," he laughs, tired eyes instantly twinkling.
Oh, but I am; he's dated Somy Ali, Aishwarya Rai and Katrina Kaif. Is there a clandestine bar where the world's most attractive women consistently turn up? "Ha, I wish. There isn't a bar, dude. Otherwise we'd all go every night. I've worked with them, I've known them. I have been fortunate with the kind of women I've met. They've all been very nice. I'm sure you're talking about the way they look and everything, but I mean the kind of people they are, their personalities. I've known them for the longest time. And as far as people, they've all been really beautiful." He takes in a moment to smile. "And really loving, and really caring. Yeah, I've been lucky."
Image: Salman and Katrina Kaif in Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya. They are no longer a pair, it seems
'To come to this stage has been a long journey'
I agree, wholeheartedly, but my question is how a man that powerful can gauge genuine romantic interest. Isn't every girl awestruck? "It depends, you know," he says, thoughtful. "The ones who're awestruck, Nahin, yaar. Doesn't work. Just doesn't work," he shakes his head.
And yet his cinema is all about invoking that very kind of awe. Is being larger than life a conscious effort? "No, it just happens. You work with good technicians. And more than that, audiences want to see things larger than life, so they make it happen."
This is clearly a position Salman enjoys, and feels he has earned. "When I started working in movies, I could never have played that character. Maine Pyaar Kiya and all, the only role I could have played was a romantic hero," he says with a slight sneer. "From that, to come to this stage has been a long journey."
He speaks of his action-figure persona as an evolution, saying that while both romance and emotion are vital, the fights might just be the hardest part to pull off.
Image: Salman walks the ramp for his Being Human charity
'If a film doesn't require any hard work, why should you do it?'
"Action is challenging for anybody. To jump, or take a punch, do all kinds of stuff, cable-work That is more scary, because with every shot you feel something could go wrong. And you still do it. And so far, touch wood, everything has been all good. So action is the most difficult thing to do."
And in terms of performances, I ask, in terms of actual acting? Khan grins and winks. "That? It's all good."
Increasingly lauded for his utter lack of pretension, Khan is considered a star who often phones in his performances, barely even attempting to act. "If a film requires hard work, you work hard, yaar," he shrugs.
"If a film doesn't require any hard work, why should you do it? If a director says 'okay' to a shot, okay! If he says 'one more,' one more!"
Image: Salman in Subhash Ghai's unsuccessful Yuvraj
It's ''all good'' for Salman
He's Salman Khan, and once in a while -- if a director is valiant enough, or a script stirring enough, he'll stand and deliver -- but the rest of the time, it is, as he said, "all good."
Or, at the very least, good enough for him.
Image: Only Salman could have got these stars to walk the ramp for his Being Human show