He didn’t have a godfather when he started out in Bollywood almost three decades back. However, once success touched his life, Salman Khan didn’t stop himself from giving back to the industry that made him a superstar, over the years.
Often referred to as the oneman-army of Bollywood, he has been the reason and route for not one or two but countless talents, who’ve made a name for themselves in showbiz. While for many like Arjun Kapoor and even Hrithik Roshan, ‘Bhai’ has been an inspiration and guiding force, for others including actors Sneha Ullal, Zareen Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Hazel Keech, Daisy Shah, and even music composers Sajid-Wajid and Himesh Reshammiya, he has been the launchpad himself, giving the newbies the dream debuts of their life.
And then of course are the slew of actors for whom Khan has been nothing less than an anchor, rescuing their careers from drowning into the deep sea. This list includes names right from Asin to Elli Avram, Ashmit Patel, Sana Khan, Jacqueline Fernandez and of course his much-hyped ex, Katrina Kaif. This year will see the big daddy handhold a bunch of new youngsters including Athiya Shetty, Kiara Advani, Isabel Kaif, Sooraj Pancholi and even his rumoured flame Lulia Vantur.
Added to this list are also Raza Murad’s son Ali, Danny Denzongpa’s son, Rinzing, and the late Vijay Anand’s son, Vaibhav Anand.
1.Sajid-2.Wajid: Brothers Sajid Ali and Wajid Ali made their Bollywood debut with Salman’s 1998 hit Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya. Eventually, the music composer duo delivered numerous hits but continue to be a favourite of Salman Bhai, for whom they composed for films like Dabangg (2010) and Jai Ho, this year.
Read: Isabel Kaif wraps shoot for Dr Cabbie
3.Himesh Reshamiya: It was all about one-off music albums for Himesh until his big break in Bollywood came from Salman Khan in form of Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya (1998) where he got the chance to compose some of the songs. A known name today, Himesh’s initial hits were all from Salman’s films - Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge (2000) and Tere Naam (2003). Gradually, Himesh outgrew himself from Salman, and the two had a public spat of sorts in a reality show around 2008. However, in 2011 they decided to bury the hatchet and once again worked together in Bodyguard.
4.Hrithik Roshan: Hrithik was launched by his dad Rakesh Roshan in Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai but not many know that it was Salman’s training that went into creating that Greek Godlike physique. More recently after his split with wife Sussanne, Hrithik, reportedly spent a lot of time with ‘bhai’, pouring his heart out.
1.Katrina Kaif: Salman’s ex, Katrina’s career would have perhaps been lost in oblivion if he didn’t rescue her after her debut debacle, Boom. From casting her in Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya? to deciding her initial film choices, he completely reinvented Kat from the scratch.
2.Sneha Ullal: Sneha, who’s often touted as a rebound for Salman after his breakup with Aishwarya Rai, because of their strikingly similar looks, was launched by him in Lucky: No Time for Love.
Read: Salman Khan mentors rumoured girlfriend Iulia Vantur
3.Mahek Chahal: Mahek was mostly seen in Punjabi flicks until Salman gave her a break in Wanted and Main Aurr Mrs Khanna. Later, in 2011 it was apparently Salman who recommended her name for the reality show Bigg Boss. “Salman is a mentor and has always guided me about my negatives,” Mahek was quoted saying.
4.Zareen Khan: A complete newbie, Zareen bagged the leading role alonside Salman in Veer. Many believe that it was Zareen’s striking similarity with Salman’s ex, Katrina, attracted the superstar to her, and prompted him to give her a break.
5.Asin: Asin made a grand debut with Aamir Khan in Ghajini (2008) but thereafter her career would have faded into thin air if Salman hadn’t given her a much-needed break in London Dreams (2009) and then in Ready (2011).
1. Sonakshi Sinha: One of Salman’s best discoveries, Sonakshi was apparently an overweight foodie until Salman promised to give her a break if she lost weight. He kept his word by launching her in Dabangg, and the rest is history. Sona is a star now.
2. Hazel Keech: Salman launched British model and actor Hazel Keech as the second lead in Bodyguard alongside himself. The film that was produced by his brother-in-law Atul Agnihotri was a big hit. Last year, Salman rescued her drowning career, by recommending her for Bigg Boss for her to garner some eyeballs.
1. Arjun Kapoor: Like Sonakshi, Arjun, too, never saw himself as an actor until Salman took him under his wings. “I am here only because of Salman Bhai,” Arjun said about his mentor, who not only guided him but trained and groomed him, too.
2. Pulkit Samrat: This Fukrey actor is also a pet of Salman, who gave him prominent roles in his films including Jai Ho and O Teri, this year. “His (Salman’s) belief in me as an actor is something I could have never thought of,” Pulkit once said in an interview.
3. Elli Avram: Touted to the next Katrina Kaif, Salman’s fondness for Elli was quite evident in last season’s Bigg Boss, that was hosted by him. Post the reality show, Salman has reportedly taken the reins of her career in his hands, and she is now being managed by the same agency that handles Salman.
Jaqueline Fernandez (2), Ashmit Patel (3), Daisy Shah (4) and Sana Khan (5): Salman’s a real big daddy when it comes to rescuing drowning careers. While his last release saw the launch of newbie Daisy Shah, it also saw the revival of actors like Ashmit Patel and Sana Khan. Meanwhile, Salman is currently filming his next release, Kick with Jacqueline Fernandez, whose career almost went into a standstill after Race 2, last year.
Isabel Kaif (6) and Lulia Vantur (10): Salman has now taken charge of both his current flame, Romanian model Lulia Vantur and his ex, Katrina Kaif’s sister Isabel. While Lulia was seen in a sizzling item number in his home production, O Teri, Isabel will be seen in his other production, Dr Cabbie.
Rinzing Denzongpa (7), Ali Murad (9) and Vaibhav Anand (12) : Salman is now reportedly mentoring Danny Denzongpa’s son, Rinzing, Raza Murad’s son Ali, and the late Vijay Anand’s son, Vaibhav Anand, for their entry into Bollywood. The trio will apparently be launched in the remake of the Telugu hit, Happy Days.
Sooraj Pancholi (8) and Athiya Shetty (11): Aditya Pancholi’s son Sooraj and Suneil Shetty’s daughter Athiya is being launched by Salman in his production Hero. Salman is not only launching Sooraj but mentoring and guiding him in every possible way — right from building his six packs to standing by Sooraj, who has been charged with abetting actor Jiah Khan’s suicide.