Salman, what can one expect in Dabangg 2? Does Chulbul Pandey come back as bigger and better?
A heavy responsibility was put on to Arbaaz’s (Khan) and my shoulders, but I think we have carried that responsibility well. We have given our best according to our sensibilities, now let’s see hamaari sensibility aur audience sensibility tally karti hai ki nahin. But as far as bigger and better (is concerned), Chulbul Pandey does get bigger and better. One superb characteristic of Chulbul Pandey is that Chulbul is not a superhero. He’s a common man, he’s got feelings. He’s got a heart; he gets hurt and he gets angry. He is disrespectful, he is funny. He’s corrupt, he’s got a conscience — all depending who he is interacting with. A bundle of contradictions. (But) it’s been quite a journey.
Is there anything that has changed around him?
There is the family — Rajjo, Pandeyji—everyone is okay, but there is a bigger villain, bigger place, more corruption, more responsibilities and more love. As far as production values are concerned, paison se daal ke production jitna bada kar sakte the, woh kiya hai.
You have also been a part of films directed by Sohail (Khan). Did you find any difference between Arbaaz and him in their approach (to direction)?
(There’s) No difference at all. Arbaaz and Sohail are both very script driven and spontaneous. It’s difficult for a director when an actor says, let’s not shoot a film this way — let’s do it a different way... This is Arbaaz’s first film and he has done that very well. Today he is very happy with the way it’s shaped up. The destiny of Dabangg 2 decides the destiny of Arbaaz Khan.
Arbaaz had mentioned that he had the benefit of your experience as a star, so what were your key suggestions?
It’s not very often that one makes suggestions, but maybe at crucial points where it may make a big difference. Ye nahin ki just for the sake of wanting to change something, kuch bol diya. If something is good, it’s good. Sometimes you are not very sure how a scene (being shot) will pan out in which case if you have an alternate scene, it’s a happy situation as you can pick the one that looks better. So far God has been very kind that we have managed to do our best — intellectually, physically and monetarily to make Dabangg 2 as well as we could.
How do you know that you have got the scene right?
I have got a slightly different way of working. I see the film as a spectator. I believe in sitting in a theatre and wanting to whistle at whoever has done that scene. That is what I look for. Yeh kar raha hai toh, audience should not be saying, ‘Chal aage bol na’. Or, ‘kya bola?’ It should not be ke kuch bhi dialogue bol diya. It should be like ‘Yeeeaah! This is it!’
I am not saying it because Chulbul Pandey is played by Salman Khan. It’s like whoever is acting in that particular role, what is the reaction of the people — the saadharan aadmi — in the theatre watching him? Usko mazaa ayega?
Sometimes you go wrong because your own ego, ghamand or pride takes over. You think, I will be able to pull it off, but then you realise ki yeh zyaada ho raha hai, isko kam karo. But yes, sometimes you do get carried away.
Could you repeat your favourite line from the film?
There are lots of them, but among those that I like are: ‘Gulab jamun se yaad aaya, Tiwariji, aapka hernia ka operation hone waala tha, kya hua?’ And there is one in which he threatens the villain, which is very nice —‘Aapne hamara beema kara liya? Aap bhi kara lo’. . .
You had said in an interview a while ago that you believe in acting in hit films, not good films — so would you say that they do not co-exist?
Hit films are always good films. Or at least most of them. A flop film is a bad film kyunki usko dekhne koi nahin aaya. What you wanted to say, has not been conveyed. Khatam baat.
Your films obviously don’t have that problem what with several Rs. 100 crore plus films under your belt. What would you attribute the big opening collections of your films to?
That Rs.100 crore is not my thing na, business is growing — everyone is doing Rs.100 crore these days —abaadi badhti hai, fans badhte hain, ticket prices badhte hain. Rs.100 crore toh ab dus crore jaisa ho jayega. In fact, I would rather have it the other way around ki it takes a modest opening, but like Maine Pyar Kiya and Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, paanch-paanch saal chale. That is better for me.
You have popularised the action-comedy combination in Hindi films. Are you redefining the hero through your choices?
I am doing movies in which the hero is slightly angry. He’s got an element of humour, he’s got emotions also — a complete package. Aise log hote hain yaar, life ke andar. Hindustaniyon mein yeh sab qualities hoti hain.
But we Indians are not really known for our sense of humour…
Solid sense of humour hota hain, sirf jab apne pe aati hai to nahin hota. Doosron pe chipkane ke liye bahut sense of humour hai. Chulbul Pandey doesn’t crack jokes; what he says is extremely funny, but he doesn’t mean to be funny at all.
With films like Dabangg, Singham etc, are dialogues in the classic sense, making a comeback?
Dialogues started with Sholay — Arre o Samba, became a dialogue. After a long time, spoken lines began getting appreciated with Wanted and Dabangg.
And obviously, for those lines to work, you need an impressive hero and an equally impressive villain to say those lines.So does Dabangg 2 have a good line-up of villains?
You have to have a guy against you, who is bigger, taller and everything better. Only then maarne aur maar khane mein achcha lagta hai. So there is Prakash Raj, Niketan Dhir and Deepak Dobriyal, a nice set of strong actors.
Is it true that you will now act in only one film every year? Does it help you work better?
I will do just one film at a time. I don’t know if it helps, but if you have a look or something that you have to keep for a film like moustache, stubble or short hair. Otherwise what used to happen with Sanju and me is ki entry karo toh lambe baal, and then suddenly chote baal. Earlier, there was no continuity in films but now there is a considerable amount of it — itne saare continuous jerks nahin hain! In Wanted, mere baal lambe ho gaye the because I was training for Veer for which I had to grow my hair. So end mein jo do gaane shoot kiye woh itne baal mein kiye (points to his chin).
Outside of films, since you intend starting a Being Human chain of restaurants, will your painting take a backseat?
We will first open one single restaurant in Mumbai and see how it goes. We are still working on the cuisine and stuff, but it has to be international. There is a line of T-shirts, and then in February-March, we might have an exhibition of paintings. I am working on that — it’s a combination of photography and painting.
On television, has the family entertainment spin worked for Bigg Boss 6?
Yes, because it is better to have more people switching on the channel to watch the show. I don’t know about the ratings. I ask the channel guys about it, and they tell me it’s good.
Has the meteoric success changed you?
No, I am the same. There may have been growth though, in that ki your thinking changes. For instance, for the longest time you could think ‘A’ is right, and suddenly you grow and say, no, I think something else would have been right. And what you think was so wrong, suddenly you think it’s okay. That’s growth, which is important. If you change, you could change for the worse, I would rather grow than change. You would perhaps use the word ‘change’ when the person, who’s successful only takes care of his own interest. If he does not give his friends or business associates any bhaav after success, then people say he’s changed. ‘Apne aap ko bahut samajhta hai. He’s not the same guy.’ Earlier that may have been ki ‘he’s such a good-hearted guy. All those things were said because they were benefitting. When they don’t benefit any more, then it obviously becomes ki he’s a b******!
You have had a fair share of highs and lows, and yet the one thing that everyone mentions about you is your generosity. Does that come easy to you?
It’s one life yaar, whatever is there in my destiny will happen. You go through situations and come out, sometimes you get stuck. Life is one big story, and you should have a superb story to tell.
As for helping people, I don’t know why people make such a big deal of it. I guess it would have to be lessons I have learnt as a child. Those are the only lessons I have learnt and after that I have not learnt anything. I think moral science classes in school taught me all of it, which was to help the needy, try to be as correct as possible, bend backwards for other people, arrogance is not good, badtameezi nahin karna, thank you bolna, sorry bolna, respect dena, don’t take bullshit, don’t give bullshit. These are the only lessons I have learnt, and I have lived my life by them. Uske baad jo grey areas hain woh dheere dheere karke seekhte gaye, but jo major areas hain, woh yehi hai.
super hit.. better than dabanng first
We need to stop buying tickets for such mindless action movies without any screenplay sense. Also the fevicol song is vulgar describing women as chicken tandori and with other names. The censors need to be strict with the so called item nos (fevicol, munni badnaam, halkat jawaani) which actually portray women in bad light. These songs are meant to be played in beer bars, pubs and are provocative in nature. It%u2019s a complete nonsense movie.