Producer Boney Kapoor, now making a film with Salman Khan in the lead, is shocked over the prospect of the actor serving five years in jail for hunting a chinkara deer. But he says he will not replace Salman.
Kapoor is producing Wanted Dead & Alive, a remake of Telugu blockbuster Pokhiri. Salman has been shooting for it for a month.
"The sentence isn't a bolt from the blue," says Boney. "We went into it with our eyes open. I wanted only Salman for this role, and given a chance I'd still not change my decision to have him. He's my 4 am friend. I remember how he stood by me when I was financially challenged during No Entry."
On Friday, a district and sessions court in Jodhpur issued an arrest warrant against the star after it dismissed his plea against a five-year jail term handed by a lower court.
Salman has been convicted of poaching a chinkara deer at Ghoda farm near Jodhpur on the night of September 28, 1998 while filming for Sooraj Barjatya's blockbuster Hum Saath Saath Hain.
Kapoor, who was shooting Wanted Dead & Alive in Hyderabad, says: "We've been shooting since July 23. In all we've completed 25 per cent of the film. We shot two songs in Thailand. In Hyderabad we've completed a large number of key scenes including the film's biggest action sequence. The next schedule is in October."
And Kapoor, like all of Salman's well-wishers, has his fingers crossed.
"My director Prabhu Deva, Salman and I have had lots of fun shooting this film. Actually Prabhu and Salman go back a long way. Prabhu has choreographed many of his songs, and he has also choreographed some of my best numbers," the producer said.
"He and Salman got along like a house on fire. Shooting with Salman is always exciting. There's never a dull moment," he added.
As for the impending incarceration... "These things happen. I won't let it bog me down. We all need to stand by Salman. I'm sure my film will be completed. But right now there're bigger issues..."