Salman Goes for a Wholesome Image

By LISA TSERING@India-West Staff Reporter@June 13, 2003

LOS ANGELES: The tattoos are faux, but the green streaks in his hair are real. Salman Khan's public image is a mix of the two.

The actor sat down after the Megastar Mania show June 7 to chat about his latest projects, including his Hollywood debut in Willard Carroll's romantic comedy Marigold; Khan's home production, Lucky; and the controversy over Khan's decision to portray the god Rama in an upcoming film.

A section of Hindu activists is protesting the fact that Khan, a Muslim with a chequered past, will portray a Hindu god, but Khan is adamant that he wants to play the role.
"Listen, first of all, we're human beings," Khan said. "When I was a child, till the fifth grade, I was taught that there's one god. After that, from the sixth grade onwards, I was told there were 700 gods. I still go by that childhood belief that there's one god and one god only.

"You can call Him whatever you want to call Him. But He's just one. If you go into this Hindu-Muslim thing, I wouldn't have been born if my mother hadn't given birth to me. My mother [Salma] is Hindu. My father [Salim Khan] got married again, to this lady called Helen, and she's my mother too. And she's Christian. So I'm Hindu, Muslim and Christian."
Khan brushes off another controversy, regarding the World Health Organisation's recent blasting of the Indian film industry over the way it glamorises smoking.
With a cigarette dangling from his fingers, Khan replies, "I haven't smoked on screen yet, but in one film I'm doing, Tere Naam, the character smokes. Because of that, I was smoking like six packs of cigarettes every day."
He drops the cigarette on the floor of the dressing room, stubs it out, and laughs. "Smoking kills! But you've got to die one way or the other, so you might as well ..."
Salman Khan has had more than his share of public run-ins with the law, including the charge of poaching endangered blackbuck deer and another charge of killing a homeless Mumbai man by accidentally running over him in his Toyota Landcruiser while intoxicated, but Khan does his best to keep the unsavoury elements of his personal life out of his films.
"Everyone can watch my movies," he said. "Grandchildren, parents and grandparents can watch my movies together. I remember when I was a child, if any lovemaking scene would come on, my parents would get awkward and fast forward the scene.

"I didn't want anyone to go through that with my movies. I wanted them to be able to sit down and watch them all the way through. You can take your children, you can take your girlfriend, and you won't be embarrassed watching that film," he said.

2003 June 13