Bollywood’s enfant terrible, the mentor to newbies, a man who extends himself for humanitarian work, Salman Khan has been embraced as ‘Bhai’ by all.
His films may not be a critic’s delight, his acting abilities or the lack of it, as Salman himself nonchalantly claims, are no deterrent to the ever-growing cult of Salman – his box office records and popularity quotient have only proved it over the years.
Despite courting bad press, his jail stint, court cases, brawls with colleagues, his popularity quotient remained unaffected. His loyal fan-base would, in fact, stand by him – after all, to err is human!
The man child who courted trouble, wore his heart on his sleeve – his reel characters echoed the same “the brat with a good heart”.
The Salman story began in 1989 with the release of Maine Pyar Kiya. He was either Prem or Suraj in most of his films.
From playing the romantic ready to break into a song Prem in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, to the slow on the uptake Prem Bhopali in Andaaz Apna Apna; the vengeful Karan, flaunting his six-pack and muscled chest in Karan Arjun, to the supportive Raj in Khamoshi; or the lyrical maverick Sameer of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam – Salman’s brooding eyes and boy-next door image, resonated across generations.
There were also, however, endless duds like Suryavanshi, Chaand ka Tukdaa, and Jagruiti. But before he could be written off, came his turn as Radhe in the 2003 hit Tere Naam, the film with which he broke new ground. The story of a goon who forces a girl to return his affections till a strange twist in fate.
Though he was back in the game, it was only with the success of Wanted in 2009, that he was established as the most wanted ‘midas’ of the box-office.
As he hammered the bad guys, his one liner “Ek baar maine jo commitment kardi, uske baad toh main khud ki bhi nahi sunta”, found its way into popular lingo.
Post Wanted, Salman was back as the ‘Ray Ban sporting’, lovable police officer Chulbul Pandey. And as Wanted, Dabanng, Bodyguard, Ek Tha Tiger, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Sultan broke the box-office records of his previous films, Salman emerged as the most bankable and salable Khan.
His machismo, the rough at the edges guy with a sense of bravado, child like humor and un-choreographed like dance moves struck a chord with most, especially those in tier 2 cities. Mumbai’s Gaitey theater turns into a carnival on the day of a Khan release.
Khan’s fashion brand Being Human is reasonably priced and is sported by many – from rickshaw wallahs to regular office goers in the city.
Forget grown ups, even kids love Salman, and the actor, who is well aware of the fact admits, “My endeavor is to do films that the entire family can sit back and watch together, without anyone getting embarrassed and all getting their paisa vasool”. His films, till date, have had no kissing scenes.
His recent films – Tubelight and Race 3 may have been box office duds, but fans await his next Eid-release Bharat. The festival is truly owned by Salman at the theaters.
His charitable side is seen through the endeavors of his foundation Being Human, which is also a lifestyle brand. The actor said, “I know a lot of people think I am doing all this to change my image, but if it was that easy wouldn’t everyone else do it too, and let me tell you, my image has not changed at all”.
Many in the industry vouch for him as being a “yaaron ka yaar”. A self-proclaimed mama’s boy, who lives with his parents and throws his house open to all at any time of the day – Salman is the eternal ‘bachelor boy’, like in the Cliff Richard song.
A man whose links ups are spoken about, but never confirmed – Salman’s politically incorrect statements set you off on ‘what was he thinking?’, as father Salim does the damage control, you hear his supporters say, “But then that’s how Bhai is, he doesn’t think before he speaks”!
Salman’s popularity is best summed with his dialogue in Kick, “Main dil mein aata hun samjah mein nahi”.