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Salman As I Know Him

Subhash K . Jha

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Though he hates it  Salman Khan never ceases to be in  the news. He is a simmering bundle of contradictions. There’s the Salman who kept me awake till 3 in the morning with his rather  strange antics when I met him for the first time. Then there’s the other Salman who went down from my hotel room at  that unearthly hour to counsel Abhishek Bachchan on matters of the heart. At the end of the conversation he took off his Rolex wristwatch and gave it to Abhishek as a friendship band.

  Extremely generous, Salman turns livid  when provoked and pushed into a corner. He  once narrated an incident  to me—this was when we were on speaking terms–where at a crowded resaturant some guys began heckling him by calling him unflattering names . Salman tried to ignore them as long as he could . Then he blew up.

 That’s exactly what Salman is expected to do. Most of the time he doesn’t disappoint his fans. I remember once I was at  a restaurant with Salman (the same one where he had been heckled) when suddenly he began banging on the toilet door. Everyone in the restaurant just stopped eating/drinking/dancing and stared to see  the inevitable fight.

 Fortunately Zayed Khan emerged from behind the door. When he saw who was creating the a   ruckus he embraced Salmanlike a long-lost buddy.

  Salman is essentially a child who needs to be  noticed constantly . All the time he unconsciously ends up doing things that attract attention. Most of the time  he doesn’t realize  where his attention-seeking takes him. It could be to Aishwarya Rai ‘sdoostep where at the time of their friendship, he pounded his hands to a bloody pulp on her door when  she refused to let him in.

Or it could be from the backseat of Kareena Kapoor’s car to the frontseat.There he was in the backseat with my friends SanjayLeela Bhansali and Kareena while I seethed in the front seat next to the driver driven to despair by his antics I was trying to ignore him. Salman couldn’t take that. To my horror he jumped from the back to the front seat straight into my lap as a bad cover version of Neele neele ambar pe played on the car’s stereo deck.Just because Salman loved the song, we had to hear it over and over again.

     Salman has to get what he wants go where he wants, even if a ‘No Entry’ board stares him frostily in his chiselled face. He’ll ignore every warning sign and head first for the place he’s most unwanted.

            More than a  film actor  Salman sees  himself as a rock star. He loves to be on stage while thousands of fans cheer from the audience. During that moment his most intimate infantile fantasy—of the child who climbs the parapet to get Mom to come running—is fully realized.

        At home he’s a  wonderful son, not just to his biological mother but also to ‘Helen Aunty’ , the woman  whom his father married. The Khans run a very liberal household. Islam, Hinduism and Christianity have a free passage. It’s a large open house where unexpected guests are always expected ….and welcome.

      Unlike the two other Khan superstars who haven’t known proper  parental guidance(Shah Rukh lost both his parents at a young age and Aamircouldn’t see eye-to-eye with his father) Salman’s familial background is as normal as it gets. Contradictorily the rebellious streak  shows up in his behaviour all the time.

Whether  on screen or off it, Salman opts for the maximum-attention mode of functioning.   If he’s known to get physically aggressive with his directors(David Dhawan, Satish Kaushik and Puneet Isaar  will ouch….sorry vouch for this) he’s also known to go out of his way to accommodate filmmakers.

   Shah Rukh Khan was supposed to play Mr Bachchan’s son in Ravi Chopra’s Baghban. When he backed out because of his back problem Salman sportingly stepped in. Mr Bachchan is full of praise for Salman.  “Salman is  God’s child. Very misunderstood, but has a heart of gold. Like Sanju(Dutt)  Salmanhas a penchant for getting into trouble. But he means well, and is extremely kind-hearted.”

 Revathi in whose  Phir Milenge Salman played  a supporting role to Shilpa Shetty will also vouch for  the kind heart. Salmannot only agreed to play a supporting role, but also refused to charge any money from Revathy who was his co-star in one of his earliest films Love.

     So will thereal Salman Khan please stand up? Is he an enfant terrible or a restless  child with a heart of gold?  Salmanoften  says and does things which he doesn’t mean . His  naked aversion to    the press doesn’t add to his popularity.

  But ask Salman if he cares. He would rather be  a rock star than a rocksteady movie star with ‘proper’ press  and values to match.

   “The press didn’t make my career. So how can they unmake me?”  reasons the focussed, totally clued-in cool and newly power-packed  Salman Khan. He’s totally into his career right now.

   But the question is,  can  he stay out of crises?          

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