Salman Khan never shies away from speaking his mind. As HT caught up with the Bollywood actor at a five-star hotel in Bandra (W), he answered each of our questions, including the ones on the brouhaha about his Olympics goodwill ambassadorship, in his trademark uninhibited style.
You started your film journey in the ’80s. How do you look back at it?
To explain how my journey has been, I would just say this - the weather has been good. It hasn’t been rough for me. So, there has been no need to wear a seat belt. There was no choppy waters or turbulence.
The news of your association with the Rio Olympics didn’t start off on a good note…
After me, who all have been made goodwill ambassadors? Sachin (Tendulkar), AR Rahman and Abhinav Bindra, right? So, did that (the news of them being roped in) start off well or mine?
Your selection made more news, but it did have a negative connotation to it.
But it started off well, right? For the media and for everyone else. The media should have done the same thing (criticised the other goodwill ambassadors) when Sachin and Rahman were roped in. Why didn’t that happen? Why did the media not give them the same kind of coverage they gave me? In their case, too, while one isn’t a sportsperson, the other one has only played one sport.
Did you understand that why your nomination snowballed into such a big controversy?
Does Rahman need a state-level certificate or a national-level medal to be called a sportsperson? In fact, are all kids, who have tried out certain sports but haven’t won a medal, not sportspersons? Aren’t all the kids or other persons, who like and follow a particular sports sportspersons? If they are, then why just pick on me?
Watch the song Baby Ko Bass from Sultan here:
Do you think your court cases gave people another reason to attack you?
Some people say, “He has court cases [against him].” So, you have issues with one person, who has court cases, becoming the Olympics goodwill ambassador. But there are so many big politicians who have court cases [against them]. So, desh zyaada important hai ya Olympics (is Olympics more important than the country)? Mere liye toh desh (for me, the country) is most important . So, I am ready to leave it (the ambassadorship), if you (the politicians) also leave [your posts]. There are so many people, who have [cases of] scams, corruption and even rapes, but they are still there (on important posts).
Many big names such as sprinter Milkha Singh was not in favour of you becoming the goodwill ambassador.
But Milkhaji’s wife said very sweet things [about me]. In fact, I feel they should have talked about it (their discontent) more and more. Olympics should get a bigger platform, and more people should know about it. More than any committees or officials, it is about sportspersons. Several of our sportspersons, neither have the equipment nor the nutrition; they only get two meals in a day. But still, they go and win medals for India. Imagine what will happen if you give them all the facilities they need?
But don’t celebrity names help a sport get a lot of publicity?
I have seen a lot of people struggling to promote sports like wrestling. But we are doing that (promoting the sport) now. Aamir is doing that, and even I am doing the same (through their respective films on wrestling). A lot of wrestlers have told me, “What you are doing for wrestling is the most amazing thing.”
There were rumours suggesting that you became an Olympic ambassador due to your new film, Sultan.
I have a lot of other places to join and lend my name to. I could have been associated with other sports leagues, where I would have got paid a lot of money. But I didn’t join them. If things were about making money and publicity, why would I have my own charitable trust? It is all become a nautanki (a drama), as people standing in my opposition also know that the argument they are making has no logic.
How do you deal with it when so many voices attack you like this?
It has become a profession [for people to attack me]. I am saying this on behalf of all of us, who are in a ‘fortunate’ position, and give people who are in the so-called ‘unfortunate’ position, a spot in the limelight. Koi sahi bolta hai, koi jhooth bolta hai (some say the truth, and some lie), but everyone is saying something. To begin with, my intention was that Olympics should get publicity, and everyone should know about it. We wanted, from our side (Being Human), to create cool, high-end sportswear for Indian sportspersons. We were like, “Our players are going for the Olympics; let’s give them the best gear.” But then it didn’t happen.
Watch the trailer of Sultan here:
You are also constantly questioned about your personal life…
If someone is asking me about a personal thing just for the sake of it, then I am like, “What’s the connection [of this with our chat]?” I will never ask you, “Are you having an affair, or when will you get married?” Just because you have the press card, and you watch me on TV in your living room or bedroom, do you have the right to ask me a personal question? Ask me about my films. Who will I marry and when, that is for me and my family to decide.
At a recent press meet, you seemed rather irritated when someone asked about you about your marriage…
When people become inquisitive about one’s personal life, it shows their upbringing. Why do they ask, “Who is the lady? Are you going to marry her or not?” Such people don’t have any education; they are excited kids, who have just started out. They ask anything, but we keep quiet because if we react, they get a story. It’s not cool at all. One day, someone is going to react badly to this.
As Raees moves to next year, your next is the solo release for Eid this year...
It’s not just about Eid, any festive date is good for everyone. It is holiday time, and people want to go and watch films. I heard the script of a film a few days back, and it is clearly a Christmas film. Now, we will see what to do.