Why do we still love Salman Khan?

Diganta Guha wonders why Salman's popularity is still intact.

india Updated: Apr 06, 2006 09:43 IST

As Salman Khan strutted down the runway at Surily Goel’s LakméFashion Week show last week, he exuded star value. Whether accompanying Malaika on the ramp or cheekily kissing Preity’s hand, he provided great photo-ops and commanded applause. Was this the same guy who, a few days ago, was sentenced by a court of law to one year’s imprisonment for the Chinkara case, one wondered?

Trouble rolls off Salman’s back much like water rolls off a duck’s. Which is why, even after being in the news for brawls, tumultuous relationships and accidents, the actor continues to have a strong presence in the film industry.

Take a look at the box office. His place remains intact. Forget the controversies. Salman has provided Bollywood with hit after hit in the last three years - Tere Naam, Baghban, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, Lucky No Time For Love, Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya and No Entry. Compare this with Shah Rukh Khan’s hits in the same period - Chalte Chalte, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Main Hoon Na and Veer-Zaara.

Right now Salman has Willard Carroll’s Marigold, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya, Shirish Kunder’s Jaaneman, David Dhawan’s Partners, Ravi Chopra’s Baabul, Nikhil Advani’s Salaam-e-Ishq, David Dhawan’s Amar Akbar Anthony remake and Rajkumar Santoshi’s London Dreams among others. A good

Salman Khan being flanked by Neelam Kothari and Mallika Arora Khan at the recently concluded Lakme fashion Week in Mumbai.

Rs 200 crore rides on him. Not bad for an actor who’s often been tagged the enfant terrible of the film industry — the rich, spoilt brat who never grew up.

Professionally, there are few complaints about him. “He is an instinctive actor, “ says Ravi Chopra. Rishi Kapoor once rated him an “underrated actor”. And he has directors who will stick with him, no matter what. Like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who refuses to look beyond Salman as Bajirao, in Bajirao Mastani.

Forget the fashion week. No big event in Bollywood is complete without the actor. He was a hit at last year’s IIFA at Amsterdam and at the Zee Cine Awards this year. He is a hit at social gatherings and even at 40, has a female fan following that’s huge.

Salman is a big hit on stage too, especially with his world tours. His tour charge is around Rs 20 crore, close to Shah Rukh Khan’s Rs 22 crore. No one else
comes close.

And his bratty image has never left him short of friends. No matter what the accusation is, close friends swear by his innocence, and stand by him through thick and thin. His co-stars love to work with him. Says actor Mithun Chakraborty, “He is very big-hearted and is one of the most caring persons I have ever met.”

Stories of his generosity do the rounds. He happily agreed to make a special appearance for his friend Saawan Kumar Tak’s film Saawan. He came to the rescue of one-time co-star Revathy when she was looking for an actor to play the AIDS patient in Phir Milenge.

All this, however, doesn’t take away from the fact that Salman has a penchant for trouble. Chakraborty says he tends to be childish, which is why he gets into trouble. Ravi Chopra feels he is misunderstood.

One thing’s clear, you can’t ignore Salman. He won’t let you. Which is why, Surily Goel’s show at Lakme Fashion Week will always be talked about “the one where Salman walked the ramp”.

First Published: Apr 06, 2006 10:00 IST