He rules the roost as far as the Bollywood box office is concerned, but Salman Khan feels no one should lose any money even if a film doesn’t do well. HT caught up with him around his film, Tubelight’s release to talk about box office pressures, being on Forbes’ list, and more.
What goes through your mind around a new film’s release?
Towards the end [of the shooting] of a film or when it’s about to release, we concentrate on getting the right length and ensuring that the right product is delivered. So, whatever goes on in my head is when I’m signing a movie or hearing a script. Making a decision to do a film is the most difficult part. If I don’t like a script, no one can convince me by saying, ‘kar le yaar’ (do the film). But once I’ve made that decision, I am sorted, because I know I have taken the right call.
So, what’s your criterion to choose a film?
I only choose films that I would be interested in watching myself. Even if it was somebody else’s film and I saw the promo and liked it, I should want to go to the theatre and watch it. Also, if someone sees a poster or a song, one should be curious about that film’s release.
With so much expectation from you, do you ever feel pressure?
Everyone wants [their films to do] big numbers. We all want our films to make Rs 500, Rs 600 or Rs 700 crore, and one should aim for that. But if you don’t make such numbers, then the most important thing is that no one should lose any money. My principle is also the same: if a film does such numbers, it’s very good, but no one should lose any money.
Recently, you were featured in Forbes’ list of the world’s most-paid actors. How much does money matter to you?
Money matters to everyone, but I don’t know on what basis they included me in the list. There are billions of people who have a trillion times more money than I could ever have. As for me, I am still falling short [of money] to buy a house. Earlier, I would fall short by a few lakh, and then it became a few crores, then it reached Rs 20-25 crores, and now, by a few more crores, so, I always fall short.
Rumours suggest that you are going to buy a new place…
Yes, let’s see. We are still checking out some places. Ghar toh le lunga (I’ll buy a house), but this [Galaxy Apartments] will always be home. Even today, whenever Sohail (Khan; brother), Arbaaz (Khan; brother), Baby (Alvira Agnihotri; sister) or Arpita (Khan Sharma; sister) say they are ‘coming home’ or tell someone to ‘come home’, they mean Galaxy. Everyone knows that ‘home’ doesn’t mean where Baby, Arpita, Sohail or Arbaaz live.
Recently, Baahubali 2: The Conclusion did the kind of numbers that your films usually do…
For Baahubali’s success, the credit goes to the writer and the director. It’s written by the same writer, KV Vijayendra Prasad, who also wrote Bajrangi Bhaijaan, and he is a phenomenal man. His son, SS Rajamouli, is one of the best directors that we have in our country. Having said that, it’s amazing that the Hindi film audience accepted a regional film and made it such a big hit. It means they truly love cinema. They want to go to the theatre and watch a good film, no matter if it is a Tamil, Telugu or English film.
But isn’t it a good trend to have set in?
Absolutely, also it’s our audience’s large-heartedness that they watched Baahubali 2 repeatedly, appreciated it and helped the film achieve such numbers. If it wasn’t releasing in Hindi, it wouldn’t have done so well. So, the credit goes to the director, the writer, and a huge amount of credit goes to Hindi cine-goers, who weren’t biased towards Hindi films. It’s all about watching a good film.
In the recent past, a few of your comments have created controversies. Is that frustrating?
Everyone shares their opinion but when somebody like me says something, it’s twisted around. Then, a [TV] show runs [the comment], and it gets good TRPs. But if it’s their business, let them do it. The other option for me is to just stop talking. I hate doing interviews, and I get bored of them but I do them because if a fan of mine picks up a newspaper or a magazine; or watches a TV channel, he should know that a certain film of mine is up for release. That’s all.
But hasn’t the intense media focus become part-and-parcel of being an actor?
Till before Jaan-E-Mann (2006), I never stepped out of my house for interviews. When did I do any publicity for any film? The films would still run and became big hits. But now that a precedent [of doing interviews] has set in, so it’s going on. Now, if I go on a TV show (for promotions), it feels good if their TRPs get boosted. Also, through that show, my fans will get to see me at home for free. That’s the only intent of doing all of that. But then, a lot of times, journalists want a reaction about something because either their bosses have asked them for that or they want to make a name for themselves. But that’s wrong journalism, which I don’t appreciate at all.
Coming to films, what’s your personal take on the power of cinema?
I believe that when people watch good cinema with noble characters — featuring their favourite stars or even not so favourite ones — those films work and influence people’s hearts and minds. Those people turn into better human beings once they are out of the cinema halls. Cinema is the only medium wherein one goes inside a theatre and comes out a better and different person in two-and-a-half hours. I totally believe that. In such a case, even if a film stars someone’s not so favourite actors, they become favourites if they play that character well.
And what about negative roles?
Even when you watch a negative character being played by an actor, who is performing really well, you would still never want to be that person. You want to see him getting beaten up and die. But, in a way, that negative character also changes you. So, the audience thinks, ‘I don’t want to be like this. I want to be like the hero.’
What are your upcoming projects?
There’s Tiger Zinda Hai followed by Remo’s (D’Souza) film, and then, there is Dabangg 3. For the time being, I am doing only these three.
Are you excited about going back to being Chulbul Pandey?
Yes, I am very excited. We have got a very good script too that has the same characters but this will be on a different level altogether.
Is Prabhudheva directing it?
Yes, we are in talks [with him].