Sooraj Barjatya represents everything that is good kind and humane in Salman. From the time they made their debut as leading man and director in Maine Pyar Kiya, they’ve shared a very spiritual relationship. Although they’re the same age, Salman looks up to Sooraj .
Salman even regarded Sooraj’s father with the same respect as his own. Their friendship struck a rough patch during Hum Saath Saath Hain (when the black buck incident happened). But that’s in the past now. Today Salman is closer to Sooraj and his family than ever before.
Sooraj Barjatya and Salman Khan share a closeness far beyond work. Sure, Salman hurt Sooraj with the ‘black buck’ incident during the shooting of Hum Saath Saath Hain. But we hurt only the ones who matter to us. And the two did not work together for 14 years. But the unspoken bond between the soft-spoken gentle unassuming director and the flamboyant superstar remained.
Sooraj once told me, “Salman is like my own brother. We share a bonding that goes beyond the films that we work in together.” While one goes to sleep at the time that other wakes up, the two spiritually bonded friends even resembled each other physically during the making of Hum Aapke Hain Koun. The character ‘Prem’ that Salman plays in Sooraj’s films is actually the director’s alter ego. And when Hrithik Roshan tried to play him in Sooraj’s Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon, disaster struck. There is only one Prem in Sooraj Barjatya’s cinema.
Salman once took Sooraj’s help to try and change the climax of Bhansali’s film.For those who have seen Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Hum…Dil De Chuke Sanam—and who hasn’t? —at the climax it’s ‘husband’ Ajay Devgn who walks away with ‘wife’ Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, leaving the lover Salman Khan high and dry. If the truth be told, Salman was not happy with this ending. In fact, he was vehemently opposed to it. How could another man walk away with the love of his life? Salman was furious and frustrated. The real-life love affair was at its peak. Salman couldn’t bear to see his love walk away with another man, even if it was only for the camera.
Salman who was Bhansali’s best friend during the film’s making, tried everything to convince his director-friend that he should “get” the heroine at the end. When nothing worked and Bhansali refused to listen, Salman hit on a brainwave. He roped in his other best friend Sooraj Barjatya to fight his case before Bhansali.
One fine day during the final phase of the shooting of Hum…Dil De Chuke Sanam,Salman landed on the sets with Barjatya who spent close to two hours trying to explain to Bhansali why his film’s ending was wrong and why he needed to change it.
The art of persuasion was nothing but water off the duck’s back. Bhansali went ahead and shot the ending the way he wanted. Mr Devgn walked into the sunset with Ms Rai while Mr Khan wept. Real tears.
Sooraj and Salman first worked together in Maine Pyar Kiya in 1989. It was a runaway hit and it established Salman’s longevous career as a superstar. However it was Hum…Aapke Hain Koun, a hideously garish and over-sweetened family drama that remains the duo’s most iconic partnership.