The first shock of looking at Salman Khan is that he is no way closer to his character Chulbul Pandey in his upcoming film Dabangg. It's only when you hear him talk that his many dimensions come to the forefront. Its five minutes into our conversation and Khan knocks me off with his dare-devil answers. No, he ain't a pro-wrestler with a torso that looks as if it's been inflated with an air pump. Oh no. But he does sport his famous silver turquoise bracelet on his arm; his hair side parted like we see in many of his films and his full sleeve black shirt showing off his shiny cufflinks which all goes to say that today, the actor looks dangerously demure. But then, he's also Salman Khan, although it takes another five minutes before I accept that this must be true. Even then, this realisation comes only because I know Salman is the leading man in the film and that Chulbul Pandey is, indisputably, the leading man too. So where's the pretty boy with the sardonic smile? He's gone from being the up-and-coming young talent, talked of in the same breath as Amitabh Bachchan, to being a Bollywood hell-raiser tooling around town in his black SUV with a fully paid-up entourage wearing gold chains, to the actor who threw it all away when it came to his personal relationships. But why do we care today for a man who has been there done that? Why do we care about a man who is forty plus and still has attitude and style which gives birth to lethal acting prowess? There is one good reason - Salman Khan. This special correspondent gets the concession of meeting the actor, who has inspired hundreds, advised thousands, loved millions but respected only one thing: his acting. And when Dabangg releases, you just won't regret the fondness and fascination for a man who has taken all the above in his stride. Salman Khan, you're unstoppable.
"Chulbul is totally unpredictable"
Why would I want to be a part of anything similar to Wanted? It's strange when the media questions me about Dabangg being the sequel to Wanted. I couldn't understand the character when I first started playing it. I couldn't understand how one could get into emotion and from emotion get into comedy and from comedy get into action. It was a different role compared to any of my previous roles. Once I started playing the character, I think it was a lot of fun because Chulbul was totally unpredictable.
"Chulbul is different because of the moustache"
I knew that people in UP-Bihar keep moustaches to look rougher, tougher, and more mature. For them it's the symbol of 'mardangi' (manhood). I had just come out of Veer with a clean shaven look with long hair. I saw that people on the sets too had moustaches and I thought that all my life, I've had a clean shaven look. I tried to sport the moustache but wasn't too convinced. That's when Sonakshi Sinha and Vinod Khanna told me that the moustache looked good on me and different. It suited the character. As soon as I finished my first shot, I decided not to take the moustache off. It's a strange thing but the moustache does lift the way a character is written. Chulbul is different because of the moustache.
"I believe I'm the true Robinhood"
In the film, my character believes that he is the true Robinhood of that locality where he lives. He steals from the rich and gives to the poor. He is still funny but tough too. He is mad but not insane. He is like Robinhood but an Indian one (laughs).
"There is no difference between my fans and me"
I am no different from my fans because my fans and friends are not my 'chamchas' or 'yes men'. They tell me straight out if they don't like anything about my trailer or my role or anything about me in the film. But the fact that they got excited seeing the promo was the signal for me that Chulbul was going to be a hit. I also showed the promo to everyone in my house and they all loved it. Even when Veer released with a great promo but didn't find its good luck at the box office because of many people who didn't listen. But Dabangg is bang on.
"Sonakshi has the penchant of being perfect"
Action not backed with romance is meaningless. That's where Sonakshi Sinha comes in Dabangg. She is looking gorgeous in the film. I know Sonakshi's family very well. We are old friends and I know her potential. She will go a very long way after Dabangg. A lot of people look very good in a saree. Sridevi looks gorgeous, Shilpa Shetty looks beautiful in a saree, Katrina looks amazing in a saree, Sushmita Sen looks superb too in a saree. I think not many actresses look sexy in a saree and Sonakshi does look like one. You also need to know that the audiences haven't seen her before. So the first look of Sonakshi was always going to be a winner all the way.
"I have learnt the word called 'enthusiasm' from Sonakshi"
I used to have a lot of fervour, passion and enthusiasm in me while I was Sonakshi's age. Today, unfortunately, I lack it. So when I see someone so enthusiastic working with me, I don't compete with that co-star. I compete with enthusiasm. Perhaps that's the reason why you see me so involved and energetic in Dabangg.
"It's not difficult for Abhinav to come out from the comparisons with Anurag"
Abhinav Kashyap is a really good guy. I think he writes very well. He knows that whole backdrop. He has worked on small screen. He doesn't waste time and money and he has had the script of Dabangg for the longest time and has worked really hard on it. We were fortunate that the 'Khan Brothers' picked up the script of Dabangg before anybody else could. After what Abhinav has done, I think people will stop comparing him to his brother Anurag.
"Arbaaz makes me proud"
It's not just about Arbaaz. Be it anybody, when the producers put in money, they put in their life into the project. They need to recover the money and keep track of all the accounts. Arbaaz has over the years learnt the trait from Sohail and many others with whom he has worked. Today I can say that I am really proud of him. Earlier, the stakes were not that high but now-a-days the stakes are very high and everybody is more bang on and agile on scripts, timing of the release, how much the film will recover and what kind of opening the film will take. Arbaaz has got all that sorted.
"I will show Dabangg to my celebrity friends"
Marketing has gone to another level all together. In the papers you see which actor has showcased his film to his celebrity friends. Why not? If it helps the film and if it helps spread the good word about the film, why won't I show it. I am planning to show Dabangg to few of my celebrity friends. I remember the last time I showed Kyun Ki to Aamir Khan and he said that he didn't like it because he found that the film was very depressing. I too felt the same way. That's what I like. I like honesty and not all the friends coming up to me and saying 'Yes, we loved the film'. I didn't think Tere Naam would work but it did. So you never know what fate has in store for you on Friday.
"Tere Naam sequel can be made or not depends on Satish Kaushik"
Tere Naam for me was the easiest thing to do. If you travel to small towns, that's how they behave. I behaved like that in the second half. The second half was a complete loser. Even when I was publicising Tere Naam, I told people not to get inspired by my character in the second half because today, people take your performance home and behave accordingly. They try to. I told my fans that if one girl goes away from your life, another one can replace her. It's not that difficult. I think Tere Naam sequel needs to be tighter and it all depends on Satish Kaushik whether he wants to make it or not.
"Twitter has given me a new stage to perform"
I tweet when I have something to tweet. But when I am not doing anything, I follow my fans on twitter. Most of the tweets I do are without taking the names of the people who've tweeted me. I do not tweet for the fun of it. I follow my fans and try to reply them. I also like posting some pictures on twitter and that's the only thing I do. Twitter has given me a new stage to perform and I am really happy. I can say today that Dabangg isn't just a movie; it's turned into a movement.