The word 'superstar' goes hand in hand with Salman Khan but the actor prefers to merely dismiss this term as 'bullsh*t'. You throw a googly of question at him and he knows how to hit it straight out of the park for a six. Further, the mere mention of his nephew Ahil in the conversation lits up his face.
Excerpts from one of his most revelatory interviews ever...
"To Do A Film Like Tubelight Becomes Difficult At The Age Of 50-52 When You Have Seen The World, Dealt With Different Kinds Of People & Lost Your Innocence"
Q. You are someone who is known to be witty, intelligent and smart. How difficult was it to play a dimwit in Tubelight?
A. I am not smart at all. I call myself 'Tubelight' every time I go back a year before. (laughs). When you are growing up, there is some innocence...you are naive and full of life. But to do a film like this at the age of 50-52 becomes difficult, when you have seen the world and dealt with all different kinds of people and lost your innocence.
You feel awkward about people watching you like this. So, I had to dig deep and rewind back far behind to my childhood.
In fact, while doing this film, Sohail and I started remembering all our school friends. We reconnected with all those with whom we had lost contact.
We started recollecting all the moments that we had gone through. It was good fun. It was a good experience and journey. Basically, I had to go back to that period. I had to observe the kids around and learn their body language.
At the same time, I had to be quite careful about not overdoing things since it's an emotional film as well.
Q. You recently called yourself a limited performer....
A. I could call myself the best performer of all only if people think so. Rather I would prefer to call myself the most limited performer and let people say what they have to say.
"I Will Work With Kabir Only Till The Time He Is Getting Me The Best Scripts"
Q. This is your third film with Kabir Khan. What kind of equation do you share with him?
A. We have known each other even before we did Ek Tha Tiger together. He had shown me Kabul Express.
Katrina Kaif initially didn't wanted to do New York but I convinced her to do the film because I had seen Kabir's previous work. She went on to share a great rapport with him. So, we both have worked with Kabir.
Having said that, if Kabir gets me a bad script, I am not going to do it no matter what the comfort level would be or what he will say. We will work together only till the time he is getting me the best scripts. He will work with me only till I am giving him my best work. So, it's a very good understanding.
He is known for his documentary style realistic films, I come from a different style all together. Our understanding of cinema is different.
"I See A Lot Of Arpita's Traits In Ahil"
Q. We often get a glimpse of your cute bonding with your nephew Ahil...
A. A few days back, Ayush showed me something which was really funny. Actually Ahil had accompanied Ayush to the gym since Arpita wasn't at home. And guess what, Ahil was going mad in the gym.
He started walking with the ball, picking up apples and giving it to random people in the gym who were working-out. Dude, he's going to be Himachal's next Chief Minister. (laughs)
Q. Do you see your traits in him? How does he react when he sees you on screen?
A. No. But I do see a lot of Arpita's traits in him. She was exactly like this when she was growing up.
Coming to his reaction on seeing me on screen, recently we were watching the trailer of Tubelight on TV. He was looking at the trailer and then towards me and Sohail and then back at the screen. He was like 'what the hell is happening'. (laugh). So, I think he has started figuring that now.
He accompanied us to the Hong Kong show. We thought he would be disturbed by the loud music. Instead dude, he was enjoying it with his eyes wide open. He was smiling all over.
"I Doubt Tubelight Is Going To Break Baahubali's Box Ofice Records"
Q. A lot has been said about how Tubelight would probably break Baahubali's box office record...
A. I doubt it is going to break the record. Because Baahubali is like one of a freakish film that has happened and the Hindi film goers have been like super, they did not care if it was a dubbed film, they did not care that it was like a Tamil, Telugu film, a South Indian film.
They went to see because they loved the first one, so they lapped the movie on and because of the Hindi cinema goers that film has got this numbers. Hats off to our guys who have gone and seen the film and made it such a big hit.
Q. Do you feel the box office pressure then?
A. "I don't take pressure. As long as no one loses money, I am fine with it."
Q. There were rumours about you teaming up with Sanjay Leela Bhansali for a film.
A. That was a rumour thrown by me. Ya, just tell him that I threw this rumour so that he doesn't panic. (jokes)
Q. How difficult or easy was it for you to get your mom on board for Tubelight?
A. I don't even think she knows she's on board. (laughs) Jokes apart, of course she knows ya. I just saw my name on the poster and told Amar that what's my name doing there, it's my mom's production.
I told him to take off my name. But he refused saying 'yeh combination accha chal raha hai, isko bigadon nahin'. (laughs)
Q. Recently Raveena Tandon said that if a sequel to Andaz Apna Apna's sequel is made, hers and Karisma's photo would be hanging on the wall and you and Aamir would be romancing younger heroines instead. What's your take on it?
A. One hundred percent. Pehli baar kuch sahi bola usne (jokes) Have you seen Raveena and Karisma now? They look exactly the same what they were looking back then.
I saw Raveena a month and a half ago and I keep bumping into Lolo. So, both of them are looking much better than what they used to look then.
"If You Start Taking All The Stardom Sh*t Seriously, It's Going To Go To Your Head And You Will Go Cuckoo There"
Q. As a superstar, what challenges do you face?
A. What superstar? Who is a superstar? You are talking about Shahrukh Khan?What is a superstar yaa? It's all bullsh*t, there's nothing to it. You guys do 9-to-5 hours job all day. Because of me you will have to work slightly longer hours. (smiles). It's just our job. If you start taking all the sh*t seriously, it's going to go to your head and you will go cuckoo there.
"If People Think That Trolls Affect Me Then They Are Sadly Mistaken"
Q. Recently a video of yours tearing the thread from your jeans and chewing it went viral on the internet? How do you react to social media trolls? Do they affect you?
A. Oh really? But I keep on doing that all the time. If they (trollers) think such things do affect me then they are very sadly mistaken because I don't check my Twitter or Instagram page anymore.
My belief is that these guys started coming on social media with somebody's elses identity to have some fun and get connected, but these people have taken it to the next level instead.
I am really shocked that people can be like this. They don't understand that it reflects badly about what their parents have taught them.
"I Am Not A Successful Actor Yet"
Q. You are a successful actor. What do you want to achieve next in life?
A. I am not a successful actor yet. I have lived my life moment to moment. So, the moment I try and do my best, the next one is better than the previous. That's what I think.
Q. Kids adore you a lot. What do you have to say on that?
A. I don't know what connect I have with kids. I don't know what they see in me. I guess they see a little child in me. Sometimes I wonder when people look me and say ' My god', I doubt whether they are looking at me or somebody else (laughs)
Q. You seem to have a great camaraderie with all your exes. How do you manage to do that?
A. So eventually I think they realized that I was not that bad. (laughs) You wish everyone of them all the best . You don't go after them. You are happy and supportive of them. As a friend I am their best friend but as a boyfriend I am like their.....(trails away)
Q. The film's tagline says 'Kya tumhe yakeen hai?' So, whenever you feel low in your personal and professional life, how do you boost yourself?
A. Whenever I feel low, I open my door, come out and see my watchman, drivers, the security boys, I stand there for 5 minutes and I go inside happy. No matter how depressed or low I am, I can never ever be that.
Just imagine they are still smiling out there irrespective of their jobs and salaries they get. They are laughing and joking and I in my position feel low just because a film didn't do well. I then tell myself to go inside and chill instead.
"Katrina Kaif Is One Of The Hardest Working Actresses That I Have Ever Met"
Q. You have worked with Katrina Kaif in so many films. As an actor, what do you think is her forte?
A. She is one of the hardest working actresses that I have ever met. Till today when she gets a song to do, she rehearses them for 6 hours for 6-8 days.
Now she has been practicing her action scenes for Tiger Zinda Hai for 6 days. The action team is telling her 'Ab bas ho gaya jao'. So, basically she is just harrowing them now. But eventually it's going to look good because she's training really hard for it.
Q. Any special plans for her birthday because you both will be together at IIFA?
A. No, nothing yet. But I hope she invites me though (smiles). It will all depend on how she performs on stage. (bursts into laughter)