Salman Khan’s extended cameo in Baghban was on the lines of his just Prem in several films. The actor, however, thought his role was unrealistic. In fact, he also didn’t like playing the role of the obsessive lover in Tere Naam. He thinks Radhe was everything a man should ever be!
Baghban and Tere Naam both came out in 2003, two films that brought some shine to his choppy filmography with titles like Tumko Na Bhool Paayenge, Hello Brother and Yeh Hai Jalwa. Salman’s career which began in 1988-1989 with Biwi Ho To Aisi and Maine Pyar Kiya apparently had wings, but in his own words he was out of work for 4-5 months after Maine Pyar Kiya. His father Salim Khan had to ask GP Sippy to sign Salman for Patthar Ke Phool.
To say that Salman Khan’s career remained a bumpy course for the first decade won’t be wrong. While he found a safe zone under the Rajshri films, his experiences with comedies gave him a genre to lean on – Andaz Apna Apna, Judwaa, Biwi No.1, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya and No Entry, to name a few.
Salman also made maximum cameos in the early 2000s. Some had to honor bonds of friendship, others had to keep it in the spotlight. But Salman was still a long way from the fame he enjoys today. And what he was doing only impressed a selection of fans. Along the way, he tried out the Salaam-e-Ishq ensemble, the Hollywood movie Marigold, and even hosted 10 Ka Dum on TV. Without a doubt, Salman was a true Bollywood star, but he was still a long way from today’s stratospheric success.
2008 was a year when Salman was at an all-time low with God Tussi Great Ho, Hello, Heroes and Yuvvraaj falling flat. Salman was in dire need of a makeover. Over the next year, the tables turned and Salman found a new lease of life.
So what has changed?
Salman khan first collaborated with Prabhu Deva in Wanted in 2009, a remake of the Telugu blockbuster Pokiri. The film had Prabhu Deva’s directing style written all over with unreal action, massive dialogue, flexing muscles, and unique dance steps – all of which Salman rarely did onscreen until now. His larger-than-life character, shocking take on his take, and emphasis on the “macho character” made Wanted a game changer, and despite being a huge risk, it has become a genre unique to the world. Bollywood.
Wanted ended up crossing Rs 100 crore at the box office. It was also his first outing for Eid, the start of a trend he has followed to this day. Fans began to call his releases, “Eidi” by Salman. We do not disagree!
At that time, Salman’s other contemporary, Shah Rukh Khan, was at the top of his game with blockbusters like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Mohabbatein, Devdas, K3G, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Main Hoon Na, Veer-Zaara, Don and Om Shanti Om. The third Khan, Aamir, had Lagaan, Dil Chahta Hai, Rang De Basanti, Ghajini and 3 Idiots under his belt.
Akshay Kumar, on the other end of the Khan spectrum, was successfully embarking on unique scripts in Hera Pheri, Ajnabee, Aitraaz, Namastey London, Heyy Babyy, Bhool Bhulaiyaa, Welcome and Singh Is Kinng. Salman was back in the race with Wanted being that breakthrough.
The following years for Salman were experimental with more remakes of South Indian hits. Ready, Bodyguard, Kick and Jai Ho (Stalin) are among them. The common thread was that Salman played an ordinary man with superhuman strength, in the role of some sort of vigilante, and featured a one-on-one action streak with an equally chiseled villain. And between the heavy punches, there were a few (bizarre) lines that found their way into the everyday lingo of his fans.
The signature dialogue trend started with “Ek baar jo maine engagement kar di” in Wanted, followed by more like “Mujhpe ek ehsaan karna, mujhpe koi ehsaan mat karna”, “Zindagi mein teen cheezein kabhi underestimates mat karna – I, Me, aur Myself “and” Swagat nahi karoge hamara? “
As his remake culture became increasingly popular in Bollywood, Salman came up with two of his most successful original action franchises – Dabangg (2010) and the Tiger series (2012, 2017). The first had him play a gray character Chulbul Pandey who is now a highlight of his career. And Ek Tha Tiger gave birth to RAW agent Avinash Rathod aka Tiger. Both films also had equally successful sequels. In fact, Dabangg patented his acting style, even though many critics called him a non-actor!
Its new fame came in the space of 5 to 6 years. And just as we were settling in for his obvious masala animators, Salman delivered Bajrangi Bhaijaan in 2015. Director Kabir Khan was a touching story of mankind, another turning point in Salman’s career. Was it a ploy to revamp the image of Salman? Probably yes, and he succeeded!
The emotional impact was such that even Aamir Khan was seen wiping away his tears. And can we forget the viral video of 6-year-old Suzi crying on her mother’s lap? Salman followed him with other projects such as Sultan, Tubelight and Bharat which tapped the section of the audience that stayed away from his films due to a fixed formula. Later, he asked Suzi to play the young Anushka Sharma in Sultan.
Another major factor that worked for Salman was the music, although it was accompanied by meaningless lyrics. The film’s predictable plot was set by its hit songs and Salman’s unique hook steps that were easy to emulate. The actor said earlier in Aap Ki Adalat how he exhausted such steps. According to him, he had tried everything from dancing with his belt to his pockets, and now feels he needs to dance seriously.
In 2019, Farah Khan shared on Super Dancer sets: “In one of Salman Khan’s first screen tests I was supposed to teach him how to dance, I actually ran away after 4 hours and I cried saying, “No one can teach you dance, you don’t know at all. I was shocked when I heard that the directors had selected him in the movie Maine Pyaar Kiya and when I saw the movie I was even more shocked at how good he was in it.
Salman’s films prove why we as Indian audiences prefer heroic characters over realism, who can fight evil on their own, dramatize simple moments, and create songs and dances about love. Somewhere in the middle of Devil and Chulbul Pandey, Prem got lost, but it gave birth to Salman Khan as a force to be reckoned with.
Today, Salman enjoys a ridiculously loyal fan base that makes up his army. They wait for his movies, dance to his songs and literally see a “Bhai” in him. So while her films don’t impress (read Radhe and Race 3), it barely affects her superstar. He has his own method of going out of his way to support his friends in the industry too. When Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan recently got involved in a drug affair, Salman was one of the first celebrities to visit SRK at his home.
Salman, despite making hundreds of crores at the box office, only uses ten percent of his earnings, leaving some rest for charities as part of his Being Human foundation. He’s lived in a studio at Galaxy Apartment for decades, is one of the biggest taxpayers in the country, and keeps his promise not to do intimate scenes onscreen. He says he will consider marriage after the verdict in the Blackbuck poaching case. On his own terms, he kept 3-4 years of his life in reserve, just in case he was sentenced to jail. Life will not stabilize for him until after that. Until then, he continues to call himself “virgin” and laugh about it too.
Happy Birthday Salman Khan!