He gets up in the middle of a shoot for a haircut, gets into a new controversy before he can get out of one and even preaches about media ethics. That's Salman Khan - honest in a brashy kind of way
Is it true that Hollywood heavyweight Jean-Claude Van Damme's daughter, Bianca, is acting opposite you in Veer?
Not at all.
Where did that come from?
Sure I met Van Damme in Dubai at the IIFA awards a couple of years back and we hit it off well. It's also true that I met his wife and daughter when they came down to India for a holiday recently but there was no talk of a film. But Bianca's a pretty girl.
Is it true that you're trying to gain weight?
Yes, I'm trying to increase my weight to almost twice of what I'm now. I'm doing regular workouts and eating right. I'm doing it for my role in Veer. With Veer, I want to separate the boys from the men. I want the boys to look like pretty girls. Since I've already worked a lot on my physique, it's not going to be so hard.Other actors take three to four years to get a six pack, I take five days.
So what is so special about Veer?
The fact that I've written the story. The idea has been with me for over 20 years now. When I started out, I wanted to be a director. There were so many stories I wanted to tell, Veer was one of them. It's the story of a warrior tribe in the 1900s and obviously, I play a warrior. It's a beautiful story of a father and a son who honour the word. Anil Sharma is directing it.
Some might say that you are taking the warrior role too seriously what with the recent news that you allegedly slapped Katrina Kaif.
I did not slap anybody. Those Barista (the place where the alleged slap was supposed to have taken place) people couldn't have said that because it didn't happen. But they (the media) still wrote the story. I want to know on what basis are they so sure that something like that happened. What I really want to know is that if I'm such a terror who keeps slapping people, why aren't people scared of me? Why do they still keep on writing all this stuff about me? They should check with me.
Maybe because you have a history of being inaccessible to the media?
I don't react to rumours and unfounded stories. If you ask me about a stupid thing that hasn't happened, then either I'll joke about it or laugh it off. What can I say to something as preposterous as this? I don't have the time to get into all this. My name is Salman Khan and I need to work for a living. I don't have the time and energy to call up every newspaper and television channel and deny or confirm every little thing that gets written or said about me. But now I'm thinking I need to do something. I'm planning something.
What are you planning?
I'm going to ask all editors to designate one person from their organisation who will come and talk to me. There should be one point person that I deal with. Like, from The Indian Express, it could be you. That way, I won't have to deal with little kids who don't know what they are talking about and have just been given a camera and pen to write whatever they want to. From now on, I'm going to insist that everyone who interviews me must have done a journalism course. By the way have you done a course?
Fortunately I have. So I hope you won't slap me? Laughs) You're safe.
So, when was the last time you slapped anyone?
(Thinks hard) I don't remember. These days, I don't react to any kind of provocation. But I must confess that recently Govinda did something that made me feel proud of him.
Are you referring to the incident when Govinda slapped a guy?
Yeah. That guy must have really bugged him and I'm happy that he whacked him.
As a celebrity, aren't you conscious of the responsibility that you have?
Does that mean that just because we are celebrities, we have to take everything lying down and that anyone can get away riling us? Most of the time we take it but if they cross the line by ten folds, we react.
Do you respect the media?
A small section of it. I don't have a problem if people say anything about my work or my personality but don't write false stuff.
Do you want the media to only write gushy stuff about you?
Not at all. Take, for instance, this Madame Tussauds thing that happened. Everybody was going on and on about what an achievement it is.
I think it's an achievement of my fans. I didn't do self-congratulatory interviews even though I was constantly asked. I believe that I said whatever I had to say on the day itself, which was shown all over the channels. Ho gaya na... aage badhao na life ko. Even when I promote my films, I do it for my producers. I believe that there is no channel required between an actor and his audience. You can write the goriest stories about me, but if my fans believe in me then no matter what anyone writes they will come and watch my films. That's what matters.
Do you take pride in your work?
Then why don't you work with thinking filmmakers like, say, a Vishal Bharadwaj or a Rajkumar Hirani?
They don't approach me, that's why. They all know me, they talk to me but they don't offer me work. I'm happy in my own zone. I'm working with Subhash Ghai, Anil Sharma and David Dhawan.
Will you ever approach any director for work?
No. Why should I? Maybe to see what a different director can draw out of you? I know what I can do with myself. I feel that another person will only take from my personality. It's not that I think no end of myself but there is no end to me.
Name some of your films that you are satisfied with.
Maine Pyar Kiya, Andaz Apna Apna, Karan Arjun, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Films like Love, Veergati and Suryavanshi were also good but they were made too early and I was too young.
Didn't Ashutosh Gowariker approach you for Jodhaa Akbar?
Yeah, he came to me and spoke to me a long time ago.
Are you a difficult actor to work with?
No. I'm not a difficult actor because I don't act, I react. If people understand me, then I'm the easiest guy to be around.
Then how do you explain all those horror stories of getting a haircut in the middle of the shoot?
Yeah, I do that. If I feel like having a haircut, then I will get one. What's the big deal?
Who is your biggest critic?
My father, Salim Khan. It'll be nice to hear him say that he's proud of me. He has never said that. But if does say that, then it's over!
Who are the actors you like on-screen?
I think Govinda and Aamir are fantastic. I like Shahrukh's intensity in romance, Sanju's personality on screen, Sunny's anger on screen and Anil's dedication and sincerity. I really admire Anil because he's still standing while all his contemporaries have gone. In my opinion, the real quality of a hero is to never let your fans outgrow you.
How would you like to be remembered, say, 50 years from now?
50 years from now? I'll play my second innings as a leading man. I've just started, after all.