He’s ready for another date with his audience and this film is even bigger than his previous one. But regardless of the wagers on Dabangg 2, Salman Khan says this sequel will be another ‘family picnic’, bigger, better and much more fun. Here’s the actor in conversation with Vajir Singh
Is Dabangg 2 a Christmas celebration or a birthday treat for your audience?
If the movie does well, you can either call it a Christmas celebration or a birthday treat. If the audience doesn’t enjoy the product, it will be neither. But I think we have managed to make an entertaining film, judging by the reactions we’re getting and the reception to the trailer of the film. If the response is better than it was to Dabangg, I think picture achi bani hai, mehnat ki hai sabne. Emotionally, in principle and ethically, the film is correct. It is larger than the earlier one, happier than the earlier one.
We’ve not tried to make Chulbul Pandey a superhero; he is still Chulbul Pandey. He has not become a caricature. We have made the sequel keeping all these factors in mind. Dabangg 2 is not similar to the first one, yet it’s not out-of-the-world. We have made this film keeping in mind the audience’ expectations. Dabangg was based in a small town, Lal Ganj, while Dabangg 2 is located in Kanpur city. In short, Dabangg 2 is bigger than Dabangg. Action aacha hai, gaane aache hai, humour aacha hai, emotions hai, har cheez hai.
When the trailer of Dabangg released, it was declared a blockbuster. Now, when the trailer of Dabangg 2 has released, it is being declared a double blockbuster? Do you think expectations are very high?
When there’s a perception around a film, it is usually correct. Most of this film lives up to the expectations its trailer has created. But there are times when you wonder, ‘Yeh kya ho gaya?’ So, let the audience decide on December 21. The audience will decide if Dabangg 2 earns ` 100 crore or ` 200 crore or ` 300 crore or a mere ` 50 crore.
According to tradewallahs, Dabangg 2 is poised to cross ` 200 crore. Does it add to the pressure?
Jab koi sign karne ko aata hai na toh he says, sir 300 crore… arey pehle hafte mein aaram se. This is the state of our filmmakers and tradewallahs. So don’t go by what the industry says. The industry had written off Dabangg but now they are positive about the sequel. Only the audience has the right to decide the fate of a film as they pay to watch the movie.
It is said that the first trailer of a film decides the fate of the film. If the first look/trailer clicks, half the battle is won…
(Cuts in) There are trailers that give you the feeling that there isn’t much more to the movie. So nobody watches these films. On the other hand, there are some trailers that promise that the film will offer much more. But this is not decided by us, not even the person who cuts the trailer. This is decided by the audience. They sniff the product from the trailer and make an instant decision to watch it or skip it. The trailer should generate curiosity or else, the audience will prefer to buy the DVD.
There’s a belief that the audience comes to watch Salman Khan, not
Na na. It’s the whole package. Salman Khan ne bahut badi badi bhi di hai in the past. The audience goes to the cinema to be entertained, not to listen to speeches. If the audience feels they can go in a group or with their families, they will watch the movie. For a family or a group, watching a film is like a picnic.
Today, people are talking about Salman Khan delivering hits one after another. You delivered a string of consecutive hits in the beginning of your career as well…
(Cuts in) Till Love (1991) was released. I was often asked how I managed to handle success. They also say that mera dimaag kharab ho gaya hai. But agar mera dimaag kharab hone wala hota na toh mera dimaag Maine Pyaar Kiye ke time pe hi kharab ho chuka hota. I was 21 years old, and I had a film that had broken my father’s movie record. Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! broke every record and created new benchmarks. Then there was Sanam Bewafa, Karan Arjun, Baaghi, Kurbaan till Love. Love was a good film but it didn’t do well.
After that, Suryavanshi, Chaand Kaa Tukdaa, Chandra Mukhi, Nishchaiy also bombed. These films did not do well for a reason. I wanted to buy a house and so I did these movies. I was not offered good movies so I accepted whatever came my way. I knew they were average in content but picked the best among them. I thought if we work very hard on these movies, they will do well but that didn’t happen.
For example, Nishchaiy had Vinod Khanna in the film and Jaagruti was produced by a very famous action director. I thought Love was a good film and it would perform well. But none of them did. It was all right for me to do those films at the time. I knew that I had Karan Arjun, Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! and Andaz Apna Apna lined up.
Andaz Apna Apna is called a ‘cult’ film.
Chali nahi toh kya faida hai cult film ka. Theatre mein nahi chali producer ka pack up ho gaya. He was not able to make a film after that. Even Hello Brother is watched on DVD as many times as Andaz Apna Apna. Toh kya faida hua? There was no faida at all. It was a complete disaster.
Since you’ve become choosy about the films you do, you’re doing one film at a time.
No. Why? I did Wanted and Veer together. Towards the end of Veer, when Wanted went on for a longer time, I had started growing my hair for Veer. So the last two to three songs of Wanted were shot with long hair. But now I have stopped doing that because I take a break for a month and a half or two months between films. Or else saala break milta nahi hai.
Yeh Dabangg 2 aur Sohail (Khan) ki picture ke andar ek mahine ka break mil gaya hai. Warna the earlier films Ek Tha Tiger and Dabangg were overlapping. I shot the climax of Dabangg 2 and then shot the climax of Ek Tha Tiger.
And you’re also establishing a rapport with the media…
(Cuts in) If you say, I will stop talking to the media. My thing is mazaak mat udao. Show or write what is correct and not what you think is correct. Don’t interpret according to your convenience. Earlier, I used to wonder why the media did such-and-such thing, why were they misquoting me?
Don’t take ghatiya meaning out of what I am saying. Now I also have the freedom of Facebook and Twitter. The numbers of followers I have is more than the circulation of any big newspaper.
So whenever I have to convey something, I tweet. I don’t tweet with the intention that the media will pick it up. My intention is to convey what I want to say to my fans.
On a public platform like Twitter, people use cuss words as well. Have you experienced that?
Haan. Aur kuch log mujhe pata bhi hai yeh aate hi hai uksane ke liye. Curtain ke peeche hai toh kuch bhi bol sakte hai, saamne aake bolo yaar toh maza aaye, peeche se kya hai. There are some journalists following me, so I read their tweets but don’t react to them. Kabhie Kabhie difficult bhi ho jata hai. But it does not matter to me at all.
There was talk of you getting into production and backing Mahesh Manjrekar’s film Shikshanachya Aaicha Gho?
I think Shikshanachya Aaicha Gho is a very positive film. It is an out-and-out commercial film. I would love to produce a film like that but I don’t see myself doing that film. What would I do in that film? I would play the father’s role but now is not the time.
When will we see you turning producer?
I will produce films. Under the Being Human banner, we have already started doing production but are not getting the right kind of scripts. Salman Khan Productions will start soon.
Under Being Human Productions, you will make a different kind of cinema?
Different kind of cinema matlab ke Chillar Party where happy films, not art films, jo chalti hai.
There is a lot of curiosity about your next film.
My next will be directed by Sohail. Abhi uska kuch detail nahi hai. Title bhi finalise nahi hua hai. Script wagerah sab ready hai and we will start it in January. I have signed Sajid Nadiadwala’s Kick, then there’s No Entry’s sequel which we are still working on. Ramesh Taurani’s film is also underway.
Aren’t you also doing Sooraj Barjatya’s next?
He is still working on the script. If he finishes his script, toh phir baaki sab sideline ho jayengi.