Salman Khan: When good things keep happening

Salman Khan in Tiger 3. Photo: YRF

Good things are happening to one of Hindi cinema’s biggest stars since Diwali. His third film in the Tiger franchise, Tiger 3, has taken the highest-ever opening for any movie released on Laxmi Poojan Day in Hindi cinema. On November 24, his father’s (who he calls the “real Tiger”!) 88th birthday, Salman’s niece, Alizeh, Atul Agnihotri’s daughter, released her debut film, Farrey, presented by Salman himself. The film has been critically appreciated and even more so, Alizeh.

And so, the mega-star is in upbeat mood when we meet up at Yash Raj Studios.

As he puts it, “I will do the Tiger series as long as it does well at the box-office. The biggest takeaway for me is that the husband-wife chemistry between Katrina and me has been the most appreciated, though the Tiger series is about action!” With a twinkle in his eye, he quips, “So when you watch the film with your spouse, the chemistry between you will become even better, and so it better that you take him or her along!” The actor chuckles at his own remark, for reasons obvious to everyone!

Salman Khan in Tiger Zinda Hai. Photo: YRF

There was a gap of five years each between the three films, Ek Tha Tiger, Tiger Zinda Hai and Tiger 3. Is that the ideal gap in a franchise? “There is nothing like an ideal gap!” he replies. “Whenever the right script works out, the next film should be made!”

But isn’t it curious that each sequel was directed by a different director, just like his Dabangg franchise? Who was the best? Diplomatically, he says, “They have all given their best! Kabir Khan gave a big hit that become the inspiration for not only the second film but also for the YRF Spy Universe. Ali (Abbas Zafar) took the second film above the first. Maneesh Sharma too has made the best film in Tiger 3.” Interestingly, a fourth director, Siddharth Anand, directed Pathaan in which Salman did a cameo loved by all as Tiger.

Coming to Shah Rukh Khan, who made a cameo in Tiger 3, we ask if he will do a full-fledged film with him now after all the cameos they have done in each other’s movies? Their only full-fledged films were Karan Arjun in 1995 and Hum Tumhaare Hain Sanam in 2002.

Diverting to their first film together and the state of their careers for a while before 2023, he chuckles again and replies, “When Raakhee-ji said ‘Mere Karan Arjun aayenge’ in that film, she was speaking the truth. Karan Arjun ab aa gaye hain (Karan Arjun have returned)! With Shah Rukh Khan, there is a real-life chemistry, which is why it translates well on screen.”

Pensively, he adds, “But I have done lots of film with two or even three or more heroes. I have never had a problem with that, and I have worked with them all. But today’s young stars are dicey about working with each other! My generation is much more secure and understands that it is an advantage for a film as fans of both actors will go watch the film.”

But unlike Rohit Shetty’s Cop Universe, we have never seen Salman, Shah Rukh and Hrithik (from War) actually come together. Hrithik was only seen in the after-climax of Tiger 3 as a prelude to War 2. Evading a straight answer but with a very straight face, he answers, “You know, I am thinking of starring in my own universe of Chulbul Pandey, Radhe, Prem….!”

Salman Khan with the man he calls the “real Tiger”—dad Salim Khan, Photo: Publicity Photo

A spin-off of the Tiger franchise has been just announced. Will there be, maybe, an OTT series on the origin of Tiger, the espionage agent? “It you have a good plot for it, please contact YRF!” is his laconic reply to this!

But after all the action, is he not missing the kind of romance he was also known for? “Of course I do, for I like that genre! But now, I am doing Sooraj R. Barjatya’s next, and he will not only have romance but also a family backdrop for it. No one makes films like he does. When he makes a film, it is not five or 10 family members who watch it together, but 25 or 30!”

How close is the name of Prem from Maine Pyar Kiya and other films later, which we have seen in his movies as a lover-boy? “He is very close to my heart!” he replies. Thoughtfully, he adds, “In fact, Prem from Maine Pyar Kiya is my favorite character among all, as I started out with him. He is closer to me than Chulbul Pandey, or Radhe, or Devil or anyone else!”

How does he deal with so much success for over 34 long years? “It’s very simple. I don’t deal with it! After the film is done with, my work is over, and the audience has to watch it. Yes. I am happy when our hard work is appreciated and a film does well, but otherwise, it becomes a good lesson to introspect on and work harder next time so that we do not displease the fans!”

He adds, “I take the blame when my film flops. And the moment ego comes in, like I will show that I will make this film run, ooparwale ki laathi padti hai jiski awaaz nahin hoti (God wields his silent stick)! But if a film works, especially after the first Sunday which is the best a star can do, everyone deserves the credit, especially the writer and director.”



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