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Kal, Aaj Aur Kal

On Salman Khan, his blockbusters and the ‘only heroine who makes a difference’

People keep asking me whether I am still writing. People keep asking me about Salman Khan and whether he has lived up to my expectations as an actor. People keep asking me about his latest release, Bodyguard, and the controversies that surround my son time and again. People keep asking me what I feel about the ‘70s era making its presence felt on the big screen once again. Let me set at rest all the questions I am repeatedly asked.

On Writing

I still write regularly. I write columns for newspapers and make significant contributions to the scripts of the films my children, Salman, Arbaaz and Sohail are making. One of my most important contributions to Dabangg was in the mother’s role. As for not having written a fully bound script, well, I am 75, and at this age I don’t want to take on assignments where I am pressured to deliver by deadlines

Columns In Newspapers

I wrote articles for Dainik Bhaskar that were translated in Marathi, Urdu and Gujarati. It used to give me a high. I write whenever I feel strongly about something, where I can make a difference or I have a powerful opinion.

When I wrote against terrorism, I received some threatening phone calls. My children asked me why I was getting into this but I wasn’t dissuaded. At the age of 75, when people suffer from diseases and die a slow death, I would rather die in an instant.

On Salman Khan

He is a very talented boy. Earlier, he used to do films purely as a favour. For instance, there was this producer-friend who was in dire need of money and Salman would readily do a film for him. Or he would do a film for a producer who wanted to establish himself.

Salman has what it takes to be the hero of the Indian screen. When a film does well, there are so many people who benefit from it, from the popcorn seller to the black-marketeer. I am happy they can earn from Salman’s hits.

As a father, I have never approved or justified Salman’s actions or his mistakes. I have never made a statement to the media defending him.

On Bodyguard

I feel the first half was rather routine and the film picked up only in the second half. Kareena Kapoor’s contribution in the second half was very noticeable. With due respect to our actresses, I feel Kareena is the only heroine who makes a difference to a project.

The love story stands out even though Bodyguard is an action film, and this is very rare. Do people even remember the love angle in Deewaar? I am sure people don’t even remember that there was a heroine in the film! Likewise, in Zanjeer, the heroine, Jaya Bachchan, was just a decorative piece. When a love story stands out in an action film, it draws a bigger audience. That is what worked in Bodyguard and Dabangg.

On Rivalry

I have always told Salman that rivals can never be friends. And this does hold true in the film industry. It is like trying to find a black cat in a pitch-dark room. This was true even then when Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna and Dharmendra ruled the roost. They were never friends but they maintained cordial relations. They used to promote themselves but never get dirty stories printed about their colleagues. But today, actors not only promote themselves but also get ugly stories printed about other actors.

Action Of The ’70s

Is the ‘70s cinema back in action? I believe any film, whether a family drama, romantic saga, action thriller or a comedy, will run at the box office if it is made well. There was a time when Woh Kaun Thi was very successful. Even Gumnaam had done very well during those days. Filmmakers started making films on similar themes. But only those that were good ran.

Sooraj Barjatya had dared to release Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! during the action era, that too in only one cinema and it broke records. I remember Raj Kapoor released Ram Teri Ganga Maili when action cinema was at its peak. Worse, cable had just made a foray into the entertainment business and filmmakers were bogged down by piracy. Still, the film broke records at the box office.

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