It is the evening before the release of Bharat. Salman Khan's big return to the big screen. His last Eid release was a dampener and all hopes are pinned on Bharat, the film that will see Salman reuniting with Katrina Kaif after 2017's Tiger Zinda Hai.
The superstar speaks to IndiaToday.in on Bharat eve. Excerpts from the conversation:
What is 'Bharat' - the idea of Bharat - for you?
Bharat. The film Bharat, we have produced and we are very proud of. Bharat to me, is the place where I was born, the place where I will die. There is no better place anywhere than Bharat.
When the Prime Minister swore in, you could not attend because of Veeru Devgan's death. Has it always been family and friends above everything else for you?
Yes, it's always been that. When you see my whole journey, it's always been about my friends and my family. For them too, it's been the same thing. For those people for whom they are not, they are obviously not for family. So obviously, it has to be reciprocal. And if you also see from the time I started, from Maine Pyar Kiya, the love that I have got from the fans, from kids, from senior people, from just about everyone... it's been phenomenal. So it has just been a really really phenomenal journey. All these 30+ years that I have been in the industry. I think since the time I was born.
You have ruled the film industry for the past 30 years...
Not ruled... I wouldn't say ruled...
I think the most part is love in your case...
Yes, it's love.
In Sultan, we saw that belly. In Tubelight, we saw you as a simpleton. In Bharat, we have you as a 70-year-old. After Bajrangi Bhaijaan, has it been a conscious effort to step out of your comfort zone?
This is actually my comfort zone. When you have a great script, and it is demanding in the same kind of genre... it is actually that. What is difficult is to make a bad script work. No matter how good you are, no matter how good you are as an actor... you can never pull off a bad script.
From Bajrangi Bhaijaan in the recent past, you have chosen scripts that resonate with your audience.
It was much before Bajrangi Bhaijaan. It was during a time when I got complacent and I used to do films that my friends produced, ki yeh ho jaayega, kar lenge. And then I realised that it was mediocre work. And that also I did because there was nothing better that was coming my way. I gave those films my best, or whatever I could put in, some emotion... and they also did very well.
Then I tried something different in Tere Naam. Tere Naam se... these films were different kinds of films; same genre but emotions, drama, romance, comedy, but the backdrop was different. It is more something, more someone, more love, larger than life, maybe love for the country, maybe a Tiger, or Radhe for love, or Bajrangi Bhaijaan for this little girl... I've been fortunate that so far I've been able to do all of that.
As soon as I hear the script, the narration of a film, if I doze off or I feel sleepy or say that 'theek hai, ek aur baar sunenge', that means I will never do that film. I have to really, intensely like the subject in the first narration. I hear the plot first, then if the plot is interesting, I hear the whole subject, and after that, the suggestions come in and we work on it.
Sometimes also there's a lot of improvisation in it, then the plot is discussed in the living room or in the hotel room; the entry, exit, dialogues, the new things coming up. So that also, so far it's been working. So far, by the grace of God, it's been all correct. But you never know which kind of film the audience will lap up.
Nobody wants to make a flop film. They all want to make a Mughal-E-Azam. They all want to be better than the last film, better than the success and appreciation of the last film. I always want to make the best film ever.
Whenever we promote a film, everyone talks really good things about the film because they genuinely like the movie. It's not like picture kar li, aur iske baare mein jhoot bol de aake. Aisa nahi hota hai kabhi. They have been to the films and liked it, that's why they come out and talk good things about the film and are excited about the film's release.