He says he won’t patch up with Shah Rukh Khan even if Sanjay Dutt wants him to. He says that the global meltdown has affected some of his investor friends.. and they should be patient. He says there should be no mental borders between India and Pakistan. And he’s excited that Heroes has drawn encouraging initial collections.
He raves about Subhash Ghai (past differences buried) and is not too frazzled by the fact that Hello didn’t rock the box-office because there’s always ‘next time’. Salman Khan lights up in an anaar-phirki-rocket-patakha conversation with Rachana Dubey.
Yesterday was Diwali. Do any special memories linger in your mind about the festival in general?
(Smiles) Lots of them. Once when Arbaaz, Sohail, Arpita and I were kids, we were celebrating the festival at home. Someone gave us rockets to burst. I lit one. I heard everyone at home screaming. The rocket had landed on the blouse of one of my aunts, her sari was ruined. Ever since, then, I’ve been very careful while bursting crackers. I think kids should not play with such harmful patakhas. Phuljhadis are the best buy.
What did you buy for Dhanteras this year?
Nothing. I’m with my family..which is better than buying anything expensive. See ammi (Salma Khan) celebrates every festival with equal zest.. whether it’s Holi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Eid, Diwali or Christmas. She anchors the celebrations. It’s like that every year. I love the boondi ke laddoos that my mum makes. They are to die for.
Don’t you feel it’s a black Diwali this year given the recession and the stock market crash?
I don’t think so. It’s a black Diwali for those who think that way. Essentially, we’re all survivors. We have to confront various situations in life.
There’s a high, then a fall till everything seems hopeless.. and then the high returns, slowly but surely. Indians should not be disappointed, they should see the market recession as a struggle to come out on the top.
Are you affected by this at all?
I’m fortunate that I haven’t been affected but a couple of my friends, inside and outside the industry, have suffered heavy losses because they had made huge investments. I feel bad for them but I’m being positive. It’s a passing phase, all one needs is patience.
And the film industry?
I’m not the industry spokesperson. Ask someone who knows.
Now tell me.. did you expect Heroes, in which you have done a guest appearance, to garner good initial collections?
(Smiles.. eyes shine) After really long, I had butterflies in my tummy because Heroes is really not the typical Diwali kind of release. It doesn’t go over the top with jingoism for one’s nation and heavy criticism for the neighbouring one. We don’t say Hindustan Zindabad, Pakistan Murdabad. That attitude would be wrong. If the film was on those lines, I would have thought twice before accepting it.
There are scenes which draw you emotionally. Like the one in which Indian jawans are flying kites.. and one of the kites flies across the border. The soldier crosses the lines and discovers that everything on the other side of the border is the same. So why do we fight?
In another scene, a mother tells her child that the man of the house is a prisoner of war in Pakistan. He did his job, the Pakistanis are doing theirs.We shouldn’t harbour hatred.
What is your view on the Indo-Pak relationship of late?
I don’t know why we call them enemies. They are just like us. They love the same kind of movies. Our cricket teams have played together as one at the IPL matches. There’s no ill feeling while the teams play against each other.
The so-called borders exist only in the mind. In America and England, Indians and Pakistanis share rotis at home. I think the relations on a personal level are fine.
Weren’t you disappointed that Hello didn’t do well?
I felt the film had potential. Atul Agnihotri is very honest and sincere about his work. So, I’m not disappointed that it didn’t do as well as we thought it would. Never mind, better luck next time.
Will you be in the adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone?
Atul has already begun work on it. He hasn’t approached me yet. But I’m always there to help my brother-in-law.
How did you land at Subhash Ghai’s Mukta Arts party?
Why do you ask? You weren’t expecting me to be there?
Right, no one was expecting you to be there.
Yeah that’s because I was shooting for London Dreams. Subhashji invited me for the 30th anniversary of Mukta Arts. It was his big day. I only made it a little more special. My flight landed at 11.50 pm.. 10 minutes later, I was at the party.
How would you describe him as a director?
Subhashji is like old wine.. he’s getting better with time. He’s cool, accommodating and he’s clear about every frame of his film. I hope I’m looking nice.
Mr Ghai claims that he has given you the best look of your life so far.. that he has resurrected the 20- something Salman Khan.
(Laughs) Subhashji jhooth nahin bolte. He’s always right.
Your looks in London Dreams have forced Ajay Devgan to pay special attention to his.
What yaar! How can you’ll even say such things? See, neither do I look like an angel nor does he look like a devil. He looks cool and I think I look okay.
In the film, he has spiked hair, wears earrings, leather jackets, cool shoes and glares. I’m a Punjabi desi boy who goes to London. So, I am in kurtas and jeans. So, Ajay looks quite handsome in the film.
When I met Sanjay Dutt, he told me that Shah Rukh Khan and you are like his two arms.. his brothers. And he would attempt a patch up between the two of you. Your take would be?
(Smiles) It’s the festive season.. mood kayko kharab karti hai? Why talk of villains? I’ve wisened up. Sorry, but I don’t forgive and I don’t forget. I love Sanju Baba but I wouldn’t do this even for him. There are some things which cannot be forgiven.