Amitabh Bachchan famously retired when he turned 50, and then came back with meaningful character roles. Aamir Khan has just set the bar in Dangal for the Bollywood Khans to play ageing fathers to grown-up girls. Would Salman consider, say, being the screen father of Tiger Shroff? “Tchah!” he says disdainfully. “I played a father in Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota Hai when I was in my 30s. I’ve been there and done that. And in my next film, I’m playing the father to a 13-year-old girl. It’s a film about dancing. Like the Hollywood Step Up franchise. I’m going to be a properly trained dancer. You know how painful that is? Sultan was also painful. I had to lose 18 kilos of muscle. I’m not into diets. I eat ghar ka khana. And I don’t eat for taste. As soon as I’ve got my proteins and carbs, I leave the table. So, to lose 18 kilos of muscle was the most difficult thing on the earth. But I’ve always believed that effortless hard work should be seen on-screen. And that’s what I’ve been doing from Wanted to Sultan. I don’t see myself doing character roles. So what if I’m 51? Stallone is still Rocky and Rambo at 70. Filmmaking is the most beautiful industry. We sell dreams. Why shouldn’t I live mine?”
Late night has become early morning. The drinks continue to flow like his conversation, unplugged. But Salman is used to this. Night after night, he stands at his bar drinking and smoking, and entertaining friends. He sleeps late and gets up early. I wonder how the man in the mirror greets him the next day. “He tells me what to do,” Salman grins. “Everybody gets old and dies. Life is about how much you can delay this. You can accept what the man in the mirror tells you and take a decision then and there. I push it for later. That’s because I know I’ve done it before. But then I have to train harder, abuse my body more. What you keep telling your body, the mind listens to. I should know. How do you think I got to be 51?”
Meanwhile, the lovely Iulia Vantur who Bollywood hopes Salman Khan will marry in 2017 listens. She has kicked off her shoes and is at home. I don’t ask him about marriage. He’s still the most eligible 51-year-old bachelor in the world. The man in the mirror has accepted this and so has Iulia, I think.
From HT Brunch, January 6, 2017
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