Q&A | Salman Khan on being Salman9 min read . Updated: 25 Jun 2016, 10:48 AM IST
In a candid interview, Salman Khan explains his outlook on life, loneliness and what keeps him going in a crisis
Mumbai: Having wrapped up the shoot for Yash Raj Films’ sports drama Sultan, actor Salman Khan was shuttling between media interactions in Mumbai and some alone-time at his Panvel farmhouse last month, when he took time off to speak in an interview about his life and work. Edited excerpts:
You’ve been tweeting and posting a lot on the Rio Olympics lately. This is the first time you’ve agreed to be associated with a cause like that despite having been offered commercial sport ventures earlier. Why was this special for you? (Khan is India’s brand ambassador for the Rio Olympics)
When you’re playing these sports, you’re going after different cities. I don’t like this Mumbai-losing-to-Pune, Pune-losing-to-Hyderabad, Hyderabad-losing-to-Delhi thing. It’s a sport, it’s doing really well, players from all over the world are coming to play. But if I take Mumbai or Pune, the fact that I’m losing to another state or star becomes more important. I didn’t want to be part of that mess at that point of time and neither do I want to do it now. Plus, I’m working and I don’t have the time or the business acumen or the administrative expertise to get something this large working every single year. I neither have the frame of mind nor the bandwidth to take care of something that big. Shah Rukh (Khan) has that, (Preity) Zinta has that.
Then came the Olympics thing. When we were growing up in school, all our books were covered with this brown paper that had the Olympics symbol on it—those rings. I don’t see it anymore.
Now when all that stuff about me not being a sportsperson came out, I thought it was really funny. Because how would you define a sportsman? That he has a certificate? Or he’s qualified for the nationals? Or he’s done one state or he’s gone to the Olympics? Would you consider those criteria or look at every kid who has played a sport in school or watched it on television and made those stars hell of a lot of money? Is he not a sportsman? That was my thing.
So, a few people went totally against me, saying I didn’t deserve to be the brand ambassador. But my job was done. The whole country got to know that the Olympics were coming to Rio. I’m not saying they didn’t do good by getting more brand ambassadors. But when those guys were added, why didn’t television channels give them as much coverage as they gave me?
Why didn’t you talk about this?
Why should I? They’re more interested in when I’m getting married.
Do you not get hurt when working for a cause is interpreted as a PR exercise?
I don’t get hurt by all this stupidity. They know they’re talking rubbish. But they need the debates to go on. They need those four people against four people who, in turn, are also out to build their brand. Sab achhe achhe kapde pehen ke, make-up vake-up laga ke television pe pahunch jaate hain. (They all dress up fancy, wear make-up and come on television). This has become a business and I don’t think it’s going to die down. People like us are going to make some more careers for people like them.
People like ‘us’ refers to whom?
Anybody who is trying to do something but creating controversy without reason. And then prime-time television will want to come and debate whether Mr. Khan has done right or wrong. Because people who watch television are worried about Salman Khan, they care about Salman Khan. They think Salman Khan is like a brother to them. The women think of him like a son. Some of them want to marry me. So there is this keen interest in me. It is fortunate for me, unfortunate for those who don’t have it. But this—me being fortunate—is bringing some people who are out of work into the limelight. And I’m happy to do that for them.
Do you think you’ve reached a stage where there is a section of the audience which is so fanatical that for them you can do no wrong?
No. I hope one day I can reach there but that stage can never come in anybody’s life.
Were you this popular growing up too? Were you a star child?
No, not really. But I had lots of friends. And all my childhood friends are still with me. From the ones who are not dead and gone.
There is you the actor and there is you the star who has to work with the actor. Do you think your directors today push you to the extent that they should?
Jabran mein (forcibly) they push me, for no reason. They know ki take isse better hone waala nahi, (the takes will not get better) but they still ask for more. I say it’s looking natural and if I see something wrong, I will tell you it’s not working. Every producer and director wants me to be the best in their film. Each time I hear I’ve been the best in my previous film. But I think that’s the whole way to publicize a film, to create awareness, to show you’ve made a great film, that we love our project. For me, the previous one or the next one are all equal. I’ve done them because I’ve liked the script. Some will do great numbers, some will not do great numbers but they’re all good films.
What do you look for in a script?
The first narration has to be such that I want to clear all my dates and do the film. There may be other commitments but maybe I can show up for the other shoots earlier and finish them sooner so I can start this one. The script has to seem so attractive in the first narration. But then the previous commitments are also so good that they can’t be pushed around. And ek baar jo maine commitment kar di..(grins)
Will you ever play a negative character?
I’ll play grey. Like Dabangg, he’s a negative character. Though corruption is not negative anymore (smiles).
What is the mantra to re-define yourself and stay in the business for long?
Let me tell you something. I don’t go to any of these religious places. I hate going to a hospital. The reason is when I enter those places, people forget what they’re there for and they turn around to look at me. If they’re at a funeral, they will forget one of their own has died which is very disgusting. But then, there is another side to it. When I go meet someone who is terminally ill, it brings a smile to their face. It makes them forget their pain and their parents’ tragedy. Till the time we in the industry have this quality, we will be around.
Is charity your way of giving back for the love you get?
I have no other way. It’s come from our parents to all of us and now this sickness has been passed on to my nieces and nephews as well. They’re very young and I just hope they don’t get carried away by this. I keep telling people to first make enough for themselves and then put a percentage into the charitable trust. It’s become hep and cool—’I’m a good person, I’m helping people in an NGO.’ Get yourself a job first.
Also Read: The education of Salman Khan
You’ve gone through so much in life. What keeps you going in a crisis?
Right now, my lawyers (grins). When I was a nobody, I had magistrate court. When I started doing a little better, I got sessions court. As I did even better, I got high court. Now when I’m doing a little better, I have Supreme Court. So I need to work, I need to work every single day.
Do you ever look back and think about the people who may have wronged you?
All those people who’ve wronged me have taught me something. I’ve never held anything against them. I just feel sad for them because I know what goes around comes around. Whoever’s hurt me, I don’t want to have anything to do with. I don’t care. It’s not even about me, it’s about my parents, my family. I’m one of those species who could live in any kind of humanly possible situations.
You mentioned family and your nieces and nephews but do you ever miss coming back home to a partner?
I’ve got a partner. Govinda (his co-star in a movie called Partner).
But do you get lonely?
No no. Lonely is when no one wants to be with you. The choice is mine. I want to be alone. Lonely I can never be. Lonely is a very sad position to be in. Ultimately, everyone is going to be alone. So I’m practising it from now.
What do you like to come back to at the end of a long day?
I just like to come home—Galaxy Apartments. I’ll come see if mum and dad are awake. If not, I just chill, try and grab a movie or something, get on the phone. But I’m working all the time. So even if I’m with family and friends, I don’t talk like most people—about women, or the fights I’ve had. Once I’ve had a drink, I start talking about what I want to do next for Being Human and everyone thinks I’m mad.
Do you ever fear losing all of this? Do you see a life beyond the movies?
Sure. I see a life beyond movies.
Are you scared of it?
No. Why would I be scared of it?
Of losing your stardom.
But it’s not going for some time (laughs).
Sure. But do you fear a day when you’ll walk out and people will not be screaming your name?
When that day comes, we’ll handle it. Me and whoever is with me. When we stars reach that stage, I’m sure we’ll see a gradual dip. But we’ll be more sensible, more mature and it won’t come to us as a jolt. You’ve got to be prepared for it and you’ve got to be happy for somebody else. Or we’re going to work so much harder that it’s going to be difficult for the younger generation.
How much do you value your freedom?
What kind of freedom? Jail freedom or marriage-jail freedom?
Definitely didn’t mean marriage.
Of course, I value my freedom. Everyone values their freedom. We, the whole team, is working really hard for my freedom. Everything will be okay hopefully. Whichever way it goes, it will be okay. That’s my guarantee.
Are you an optimist?
I deal with things this moment. I’m not going to think about my future ki mujhe jail mein daal denge (that they will put me in jail). I will take my present to the next level. My profession is such that I’m facing Supreme Court or sessions court and you’re watching a film of mine where I’m laughing, joking and romancing some beautiful lady. And then I go to an award function and I’m performing there or I do a commercial. But that is my work. With everything, I still have to smile, I still have to laugh, I still have to work. So sometimes it appears like, ‘Ye dekho yaar, kal iska judgment hai, kal iski hearing hai aur ye toh enjoy kar raha hai.’ (Look at him, he has his judgment tomorrow and he’s enjoying himself).
I’m not enjoying, kaam kar raha hoon (I’m working).