Salman Khan
Sarita A Tanwar (DNA; June 21, 2017)

Celebrations are round the corner for Salman Khan’s fans — Tubelight on Friday and Eid just a few days later. In a freewheeling interview, the Supernova talks about stardom, remembering dialogues, colleagues, and why he wants to do more films.

What’s your take on superstardom?
Today, when they say (superstars) I think there is Aamir, Shah Rukh, me, and Akshay Kumar. We do fewer films — I do two films a year, Aamir does one film in three years, Akshay does four-five films a year. So you do the math. The man who works that hard and makes the maximum amount of money, and supports those many production companies, those many units, and those many directors every four months is a bigger star.

You don’t think you can do as many films as Akshay?
I used to do that. I think Akki is the only one who understood that back in the day, char-paanch lakh ke liye itni jyaada mehnat kar rahe the, ab crores ke liye utni mehnat nahi kar rahe hain... When we were paid so little per film, we did more films. Now we get paid so much more for a film, and we are doing fewer films.

It’s possible to do more films, if you do smaller films...
The films I do, are smaller films. It’s just that you need to mount them...

But your films are so big and grand. Earlier, you had a Love and Phir Milenge too. Don’t you want to do one small film like that?
No, because it doesn’t depend on the budget of the film, but on the plot of the film. Like Tere Naam was a small film. By small films, I mean where you don’t have to give so many days to finish it. When that happens, your fans will go out to see the film and they will receive a small bit of you. And they will be disappointed. That is why I stopped doing guest appearances. When I do a guest appearance, the producer publicises it as a Salman Khan film, so the fans go to see it as a Salman Khan film and that is cheating the audiences. I clearly say ki guest appearance hai and 15 minutes se zyada ka kaam hai nahi.

Akshay has a release every three months. Don’t you think you have fewer releases so your fans throng to the theatre more, in a way?
I think if you come with a good film every two months, people will want to go and see it. Two months is 60 days. That’s a lot. But the film has got to be better than the earlier one. So this phase is ki aai thi ek superb picture, usko dhundhla karo and then you come up with another one. That is how I think. So, I do about two-and-a-half films a year. I am going to up the number to three next year.

There was a time where you seemed casual about your stardom, but over the last few years you seem to have carefully selected and evaluated every film you have signed, when and how did this change happen?
When good scripts started coming to me.

Have you become more committed now?
I am still the same. You think I rehearse my lines now? I do not do any of that stuff at all. I say kya line hai and I am like bahot lambi line hai, wahan se bol and I repeat.

You remember your dialogues, right?
Yes, I do remember, but if there are some heavy-duty dialogues that I have to think about and say, then it doesn’t easily come to me. The dialogues that I have to feel and say come easily. So, I don’t say the dialogues the way they are written. If there is something flowery, I change thoda idhar-udhar. If there are some long lines, then there are always two cameras set up and there is one close and some long shot. I have someone say the lines aloud and I say it with full belief.

You have an amazing memory and you remember things from 20 years ago.
Yes. Things have happened, that I remember. My school education, I don’t remember at all, because I rattoed it. (Smiles)

Were you a good student?
I was okay. I mean, at sports and all, I was fine, studies I used to pass. So, I used to ratto it and as soon as I would come out of my examination and mum would ask, ‘Kya likha hai iske upar?’ I would never remember. Even my dialogues I do not remember. Someone like Sanju (Sanjay Dutt), you give him a three-page dialogue, the guy reads it once or twice and he remembers it. He is phenomenal. I have done three films with him and I know. There was one film, Saajan, where he had all the dialogues and I had one last line... he used to look at me. So, I used to say my line, then cut, and then go for one more. He used to say, ‘Bhaijaan kya kar rahe ho?’ Govinda also has phenomenal memory. He remembers each and every dialogue of his and he has done so many films and intricate dialogues, comedy punches, this, that, informatory lines, everything he remembers. If you are like, ‘Woh yaar woh dialogue kaunsa tha Aunty No.1 ka’, and he is like ‘Yeh wala, yeh wala, yeh wala’, outstanding. Shatru saab (Shatrughan Sinha) too. He had come on to the sets of Dus Ka Dum and he said, ‘Yaar ek woh dialogue tha mera and I used to reach late and woh din ka scene tha when I went there kuch aanth (eight) page ka dialogue tha, toh main make-up karte karte maine padha. The producer said, light jaa rahi hai. I said fikar mat karo, camera lagao and main karta hu’. He read it two-three times and he said it. I said, ‘Sir, woh kya dialogue tha’. He replied, ‘Yaar yeh kuch 30-40 saal pehle ki baat hai.’ I said, haan sir. He said, ‘Ruko ek second’. And he recited it. Eight pages from memory, straight out. I was shocked. I thought kiya hoga shows pe. But he said, ‘Pehli baar kar raha hu us din ke baad’. I forget lines, I forget locations, I forget all these unimportant things. I just delete them.”