'I get scared of horror films.'
'Chak De! India was (first) offered to me but Shah Rukh Khan also needs to get some good films.'
'When has Aamir seen me without clothes?'
When Salman Khan was in the mood for fun.
Salman Khan hums the song Abhi Saans Lene ki Fursat Nahin from his 1996 film Jeet, as if reflecting on his current mood.
But even though he's probably one of Bollywood's busiest actors, Salman seems relaxed as he settles down to give interviews for his new film Sultan. In fact, he's in a very good mood, and he jokes around with the media, as he fields questions.
The actor is wearing a new hairstyle these days, which is his look for his next film Tubelight, with director Kabir Khan. When we tell him how well it suits him, he shrugs it off and calls it 'Time pass.'
Salman discusses Sultan, inflated ticket prices, and how he almost did Chak De! India. Jahnavi Patel/Rediff.com listens in.
What took you so long to do a sports-based film?
It was high time for me to get into sports (laughs).
This was the first good sports film that came to me, so I did it. Chak De! India was (first) offered to me but Shah Rukh Khan also needs to get some good films (laughs).
When I was offered Chak De!, I was doing Partner and those kinds of films. My image was totally different. It was a serious film and I was doing commercial cinema, which I am still doing. I will never move out of that format but there will be meaningful films like Ready and Dabangg, which actually teach you a lot (laughs).
Ready is like Anees Bazmee's Hum Aapke Hai Koun...? or Hum Saath Saath Hai, getting families together and entertaining.
This is the first time you will be seen in a langot (loincloth). Do you think that will draw more crowds to the theatres?
I hope so (laughs). It will be disastrous if no one wants to come and see you, hai na?
You have got to give it to the wrestlers, who wear a langot and wrestle in front of a lot of people. It requires a lot of courage.
Director Ali Abbas Zafar had said that you were measuring the langot.
It matters hugely, and you have to measure it inch by inch. If you go too small or too big, it will look vulgar. The proportion has to be correct.
I was conscious about it as I am a star and people across the world are going to watch me. My only concern was that it shouldn't look vulgar and obscene. But it worked out fine.
He also said that if you did not sign up for Sultan, he wouldn't have made it.
I have heard this quite a few times, and all those films have been made sooner or later. The same had happened with Chak De! India.
Had I rejected Ek Tha Tiger, Kabir (Khan, director) would have made it with Shah Rukh or Aamir.
Was it difficult for you to get the Haryanvi wrestler look right?
Since you're training to be a wrestler, you can't look a wrestler until you become one.
I may not be able to fight in the ring for hours but I have learnt all the techniques, falls and movements.
It is a difficult film.
Would you call it the most difficult film in your career?
No. The most difficult film was Maine Pyaar Kiya, because even in a scene with Alok Nath, I would stammer. I couldn't say 'Kyon babuji.'
Most of your films are commercial blockbusters. Because of that, distributors and exhibitors expect a lot from your films. Does that put any pressure on you?
No. When your film is doing well, you need to work harder. When it isn't, you need to work much harder.
If you aren't sorted out, you will go mad in both situations.
Sometimes, you think you're doing well, then one film -- which you thought was a fantastic one -- will come and destroy you; it will send you on a wrong track.
Intuitiveness is the best thing. You should do everything on the excitement level. If you put in a lot of calculation, it won't work.
The film has to work for it to make money.
When we came into the industry, people came for the movie, not for us. It's the film that actually matters. Now, we have a plus point that they come for us as well as the movie.
But because ticket prices are so high, the footfalls have reduced. This will perhaps destroy the industry very quickly.
Because of this, the Bhojpuri film industry, Marathi film industry, Punjabi film industry and now Gujarati film industry has benefitted. These films are doing 50 crore businesses on tickets worth Rs 70 and Rs 80, while we are not able to pull off even a Rs 100 crore business on ticket prices worth Rs 250, Rs 650 or Rs 950. That's really sad.
These industries today are much bigger than the Hindi film industry.
Shah Rukh Khan's Raees was supposed to release with Sultan.
Two big films will never release together because we don't have enough screens.
We have around 5,000 screens, which show even regional cinema.
In our case, Shah Rukh would have wanted to release Raees on as many screens as possible but it depends on the distributors and exhibitors, not on Shah Rukh and me; it isn't in our hands.
Till the time we don't have 20,000 plus screens, we cannot let two big films clash.
In my opinion, the industry is not growing. Only the ticket prices are growing, and the prices of samosas, ice creams etc at the multiplexes.
You have sung all the songs of Sultan. Why haven't they been used in the film?
They didn't like my voice; how much I pushed them!
I told them fans will like it but Ali felt I wasn't matching up. So I told him I would release it on the side, and I did.
It's just time pass. I was getting bored, and there was nothing else to do so I thought might as well do that (laughs).
Why did you decide to sing the songs?
I just wanted to learn.
Everywhere in the world, all the musicals are sung by the actors. Here, only 15 people sing for us. So if you can sing a little bit, I would like to.
Very soon, I'm going to get revenue for my songs, and that will go to Being Human. That will be an added revenue for me, so that I don't have to beg that much.
Why don't you make an album since you enjoy singing?
When I get free fund like this, why should I (cut an album)?
The singer is recording that song and I sing one version at home -- I have sung in my hall, in a hotel in Ludhiana... I don't go to a studio to sing.
I'm going to try and sing on shows as well. If it's bad, I'll put somebody else's voice.
Here, since so long, we're (lip-syncing) singing a song, and Udit Narayan or Kumar Sanu or Sonu Nigam does the playback. I just want a little bit of me.
I am not a singer, so the way I sing is different. I sing without music. That's an art because all the music directors give me a count and I sing according to that.
Now if you ask me to sing, I will not get the sur right. So someone sings before me -- be it the music director or the singer -- and then I emulate him.
Sultan songs are very high pitched songs, they aren't my range, but they sound pretty okay.
Arijit Singh said you were unhappy with his version…
Who is that?
Achaaa, that singer. Listen, in every movie, a lot of singers come on board and sing the song. The producer and director decide who will be the best voice for the film.
One of the many singers of Jag Ghoomeya was me, and they rejected me as well.
So you shouldn't get so upset. This is life. There should come a day when a singer says, 'I don't want to sing for this actor.' That is how things should be.
Have you choreographed that popular step in Jag Ghoomeya (pictured above)?
Arbaaz did that one day.
The entire story of Sultan seems to have been revealed in the trailer. Was that intentional?
I thought that it shouldn't look like a wrestling film. It's a man's struggle. It's not about the ring, it's (what happens) outside the ring. The fight is not in the ring, it's always outside the ring.
It's a man's journey. Whatever he has lost, he gets back everything. He gets no help from anybody, he just stands up and fights. Then he comes to a point where he earns the respect that he deserved.
Is it true that you share your trainer, Rakesh, with Aamir Khan?
Yes, I am a very big hearted guy.
After watching the Sultan trailer, Aamir said he was a little scared of Dangal's fate.
Aamir is doing Dangal, and he is scared? Then why do Dangal? (Laughs)
Why would Aamir be scared?
My film is different from his. Both of us know what kind of films we are doing.
Do we ever say, 'Salman should not do a love story because even Shah Rukh Khan is doing one?' Just because it's on wrestling does not mean we are doing the same films.
Aamir's script is outstanding. Given a choice (pauses), I would have done Sultan as well as Dangal. It would have been easier to do both films as they require similar a body type. It would have been Sultan and Sultan's Dangal.
Is your brother Sohail a part of Tubelight, your film with Kabir Khan?
Yes, Sohail and I play brothers. It's a period film.
Would you like to explore the horror genre?
No, I get scared of horror films.
No sex, no horror. Not yet.
Aamir Khan has said you look hot without clothes.
When has Aamir seen me without clothes?
Aamir does not have first hand experience on that.
He also said that he would love to work with you in the Andaz Apna Apna sequel.
I have been dying to work with him for the longest time in the Andaz Apna Apna sequel.
What is your take on censorship?
You have U, U/A and A certification.
The board should come up with more ratings like X, XX and XXX. I don't think you can ask a filmmaker not to release his film.
For example, our promos were ready for Bajrangi Bhaijaan and just like that we were told to change the title.
I felt, why should we change the title? If he was going to Maharashtra, he would be addressed as Bajrangi Bhau, if he would go to UP (Uttar Pradesh), he would be called Bajrangi Bhaiya, if he would go to Punjab, he would be called Bajrangi Paaji... But since he was going to Pakistan, they called him Bhaijaan.
So there was no point in changing the title.
Were you upset about the Rio Olympics controversy, when people were upset with you being appointed as its brand ambassador?
I wanted this controversy to last long, so that everyone would know what the Olympics is all about. But it got squashed jaldi se.
Sachin (Tendulkar), who plays cricket, and (A R) Rahman, who makes music, became the ambassadors and no one created any controversy. That was very disheartening. I thought they would pull it off for another two weeks, so everyone would know about Rio.
My generation knew what Olympics was because we used to have that logo in our school books.
A lot of people said I shouldn't be the goodwill ambassador because of my court cases. But why? I haven't been proven guilty, na?
Are you doing Bigg Boss this year?
Yes. This time Bigg Boss will be the most stressful season for me because it will have celebrities and commoners.
What films are you working on?
I have four films with me: Dabangg, a film with Atul Agnihotri and a one with Rajkumar Santoshi. (The fourth film is Tubelight with Kabir Khan).