A week prior to Bodyguard’s release, HT Café’s guest editor Salman Khan opens up about his relationship with the media, real-life bodyguard Shera, anger management, religion, Sanjay Dutt and Shah Rukh Khan among other things.
Given that you are the guest editor today, what is the one thing that you’ve read about yourself in a newspaper or a magazine that is beyond belief?
Pretty much everything that I read about myself is beyond belief. I just feel that you guys (media) know me more than my own family. Seriously, I have this strange capacity of letting go of a lot of things till it comes to one point where I feel bahut ho gaya (I’ve had enough). At that point of time, I cut myself off totally or I react to it.
Of late, something strange has been happening. I have not been reacting to anything because I feel agar kiya hai toh bhukto, agar nahi kiya hai toh nahi kiya hai (if you’ve done something, then regret it, and if you haven’t done anything, then you haven’t done anything). That has become my thing. But sometime, somewhere, somebody will get it and it will be justified. The problem with phone interviews etc…is that I may recognise you by a face but I don’t know the name. For example, there was this lady who was writing a lot of stuff about me. Non-stop churning out stories…and then she would come and do an interview with me… And one day, someone called out her name, and she turned around and I said, "B***n ch** (laughs), I’m so nice to you and you go and…" and she said, "That is my job."
Have you ever beaten up any journalist?
Yeah, once. Not journalists, but photographers. Once, there was an incident where I came out (of a court) and I had already posed for pictures. If you check the footage, the real one, which was taken off air the next day, someone said, "B***n ch** ko chhodna nahi. YehMusalman hai m***ch** (don’t leave him, he is a Muslim)." Yes, these were the exact words. "Isko lo (catch hold of him). Apne aap ko bahut shana samajhta hai. Yeh Dawood Ibrahim ka aadmi hai. Isko chhodna nahi (he thinks very highly of himself. He is a Dawood Ibrahim’s accomplice. Don’t leave him)." And then one hand pushed me from behind. I was letting all of it go while walking out. But I lost it that one time. Then, I sat in my car and pushed. And you know, my Land Cruiser had big dents.
And there’s another funny story attached to it. When I sat in the car, there was a man already sitting in it. He said, "Haan beta, main yahan par khada tha. Aur unki planning chal rahi thi. Aur main ruk gaya or socha, aisa thode hi ho sakta hai Sallubhai ke saath. (Son, I was standing here and they were planning something. I stopped and thought, This can’t happen to Sallubhai.)" I said, "Chacha, aap hai kaun? (uncle, who are you?)" So he replied, "Arrey beta, main toh aise hi khada tha wahanpe (I was standing here without any reason)." So I asked him, "Aap gaadi mein kaise aa gaye. Kahan rahte ho? (how have you entered the car. Where do you live?)" He replied, "Yahin chod de mujhe. Chala jaunga main (drop me nearby. I will go)."
Did you hire Shera (his bodyguard) around that time?
Shera came to me by default. We bumped into each other two-three times when he was someone else’s bodyguard. Sometimes I thought, Maar khayega (he will be beaten up). Once Whigfield (pop star) was in Mumbai and my sister wanted to meet him. I saw Shera was standing at the entrance. I thought, Bada lamba chauda aadmi hai yaar (he is a really well-built man). Isko request hi kar sakte hai (I can only request him). Nahi to izzat ki m** b***n ho jayegi (otherwise I will risk my reputation).
So I asked him, Chhoti behen hai, milna chahti hai Whigfield se (she is my younger sister, wants to meet Whigfield).’ And he let us go. Next time, I was doing a concert in Indore and Shera was guarding someone else and he was very tired. I gave Shera a drink and told him, Bahut energy deta hai (it gives a lot of energy). And suddenly, he got charged up and I thought he is a good guy, isko rakh lo (let’s hire him). Then, Shera started coming with me on every trip.
Today, all major stars have their coterie of friends in media houses. You are the only Indian star who is so successful despite media. Do you agree?
Of course, I agree 100 per cent. There was a journalist, who at one point, told me, "I will destroy you." And I told him, "Destroy, isme kya hai (what’s in it?). After that, I want you to meet me and make me. Then I will swear by the media." And he replied, "How can I do it?" So my reply was, "Then don’t say you will destroy me." It doesn’t work like that. When you go home, you want to enjoy and relax. And those feelings (destroying someone) are not in my conscience. Look at all the journalists, who have been really mean and nasty. Look at their end. It has actually been very scary.
Also, these days, do you feel the line between news and PR is blurring fast?
I got to know that people had PR only about two-and-a-half-years ago. Till that time, I wasn’t even aware of it. One day, I was told, "This is Katrina’s PR." So, I said, "Yeh PR kya hota hai? (what’s PR?)." Then, I was made to understand what PR means – PR woh hai jo aapki khabar bahar deta hai (PR is someone who spreads news about you.) Earlier, I used to wonder ki koi chaar baje subah mandir jaa raha hai aur us time pe photographers khade hai (if someone is going to a temple at 4 in the morning, how are photographers also there?).
Main chaar-paanch baje kahan kahan ghoomta rehta hoon (I move around the city at four and five quietly). No one is there. Yeh kya hai? Phir sabse pata chala (what’s this? Then, I found out). I got to know that they (stars) used to call up and tell the media that I am going to the temple. Later I got to know that it’s a PR exercise. If I have to go to a temple or a masjid, I will not do it around my film’s release because it’s my bread and butter.
I would go there when there’s a health problem or if I am passing by it. I wouldn’t do it dikhane ke liye (to show off). But everyone has his or her own beliefs. For instance, Katrina goes to Ajmer Sharif. She goes quietly and comes back quietly because she really believes. There used to be one guy who used to give out information about her visits. Now even that guy doesn’t know when she is going. Arpita (my sister) keeps going to several temples like Siddhivinayak and all. My sister also goes to Ajmer Sharif. Both Alvira and Arpita recently went to Golden Temple.
Do you believe in God? Are you a God-fearing person?
Yeah, I am. But why to fear God?
Are there any religious places you usually go to?
I don’t believe you have to go a special place. I am sure there’s a lot of energy (at places of worship) because everyone goes there and brings their energy along to the places. If you go to a mandir or masjid, there’s damn good energy because when you enter the place, you leave your kameenapan (bad traits) outside and enter as a good and pure person. As soon as you enter these places, your energy stays there. But once you come out, you are back to your usual self.
What according to you is brand Salman Khan?
Right now, apart from films, the only thing I’d bank on is Being Human.
Any plans of coming up with eco-friendly T-shirts for Being Human?
I think we are doing organic T-shirts. Organic hi bolte hai na use? (it is called organic only right?)... I think we are planning some edible underwear (laughs).
Since you are off to the US for treatment, for how long will you be gone?
I hope I’m here for my next release. The shooting is going on for Ek Tha Tiger. From the US, I’m directly going to do some ad films.
Family going to miss you?
I hope so.
Are you on painkillers currently?
I am not on painkillers as they mess up the liver and kidney. I’m very health-conscious. The only thing that actually gives you some relief is alcohol. And I’m going through Ramadan right now, so there is no relief for me. Till date, I have not undergone any major surgeries besides one billion stitches (smiles).
I am not scared of surgeries but the MRI process is scary. I have a sinus problem, so when I lie down flat, I can’t breathe. And on top of that, the machine is very close to my face and has funny sounds coming from it. Earlier, I tried to go inside the MRI machine but I could not go. I tried again and again but I couldn’t go in. Then the nurse said, "What? This is Salman Khan?" So I thought to myself, now I have to go in. I started thinking of being in Miami. But how long can you think of Miami? I finished and came out immediately.
This time, I again had to go for an MRI. I said to myself, "I can’t do this boss." So they said, "No no, this is a bigger one. There’s more space." I went in and I immediately said, "Get me out." And they said, "You have to go into this boss." So I asked myself, "Why am I getting so scared?" I knew it was claustrophobia and I said I’ll fix it. I asked them to take the tray out and I went inside myself. The theory was that if I can go in by myself then I can come out too. By the third time, since the earlier test results didn’t come out right, the machine was all messed up. So I asked if there was a way out. They said, "Yeah, we can sedate you." But soon, the effect of the sedative was getting over. So I asked them for another injection. They sedated me and that’s how I got through.
That lucky charm of yours, the turquoise bracelet, is there a story behind that?
There’s no story behind it. My father wears it, and when I was growing up I used to like it on his hand. So I made one for myself.
One often hears about fights and anger over different things. Your name is always dragged into it. Can you handle your temper?
I can handle my anger, but people don’t think I can. I usually don’t get angry. If I think something is not right, I’ll turn around and say it. Sometimes when two friends are talking, and they are very close, from a distance it looks like they are fighting. But that may not be the case.
So if you are angry with somebody, do you forgive and move on or do you not talk to them?
Depends on what it is.
Do you think the press is responsible for a lot of fights involving you?
No, not really. It’s just people who are involved…
So with Sanjay Dutt…
With Sanjay there is no fight.
So that’s another concocted one?
Yes, there was no fight.
When you do have a fight with somebody…let’s say SRK, all your friends will hate SRK. There is a crazy fanaticism that you invite amongst your fans. Even if you write something against Salman, you are murdered on Twitter that very day itself.
See, I don’t have a problem with SRK. It’s just that I don’t get along with him. I would perhaps want all his films to do well. In fact, I hope that all his films do really well so that the industry does well. He should be healthy because everyday, he goes to work, and he is working for those many people who are there on the sets. So what I’m thinking is much larger than this ‘bachagiri’ (childish behaviour). And I really mean it.
And will you ever get married?
I guess eventually, yes.
If you do get married, a lot of single men in the world would be disappointed. You give them hope. People like you and Ratan Tata. The fact that you can remain the eternal playboy. Is that part of your charm?
Ratan Tata and you enjoy the bachelor life. I want to get married.
So, are you getting married soon?
Siddique says his next film is going to be…
Who is Siddique? (Bodyguard director).
Siddique says he’d like to remake Chronic Bachelor (his Tamil film) with you, as he feels you are the eternal bachelor.
He is making all these decisions himself now? If he is planning so, he can also get me married. Ask him to find me a nice girl.
This is just the film..
Yeah, ask him to find me a nice Malayali girl.
You want to marry a Malayali girl?
Siddique will get me a Malayali girl.
What kind of girl do you want?
Right now, I’m kind of flexible…very flexible about the kind of girl I want.
North, South, East, West? Koi bhi chalegi?
Koi bhi nahi chalega…itna bhi nahi (Not anyone. I’m not that flexible). Thoda sa (a little) flexible…I’m thinking of starting this new concept. Get married for a week or get married for a month. Till the time Sushila tai (aunt) says, “Nahi main isse shaadi nahi karoongi,” (I won’t marry him), I’m not getting married. Sushila tai is our maid at home.
There was some talk about Saif and Kareena getting married. Was he visiting her on the sets of Bodyguard?
I’ve no idea dude. I didn’t see him, unless he was hiding. I saw him during Main aur Mrs Khanna, but this time he wasn’t there.
Is there somebody in your life right now, who you’re in love with and are waiting to hear an answer from?
No no… nothing like that.
Are you working with Nargis Fakhri (Ranbir Kapoor’s heroine in Rockstar) in Sher Khan?
No. Not true.
Something else about SRK?
Who is he?
Did you see him doing your Dabangg’s belt step at an awards show? He joked that your pants were loose and that’s why you came up with the step.
Good for him.