Inside The Psyche Of Salman Khan...

StarDust Mag April 2000

All the world loves a lover. Even when the lover happens to be hunky honcho Salman Khan. Maybe because the woman he loves is the fair maiden named Aishwarya Rai! Well, be that as it may, the Ash-Salman love story is one that leaves many a face starry-eyed. A more made-for-each-other couple would be difficult to find. We're speaking appearances, of course. 'Coz beneath that skin-deep veneer, not too many people feel that the two are right for each other. Starting from our fair maiden's parents. Ending with our hunky honcho's family. The path of love is not always strewn with roses, you see.
Cupid struck when the two were working together in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam'. The 'vest'ibular wonder caught the worldly beauty's eyes and that's where those grey-green orbs of hers stayed. Long after the film was over and done with. And suddenly the two aren't hiding the fact with coy denials anymore. Even if they aren't announcing their love to the world the way Akshay Kumar and Shilpa Shetty did (and look where it got them!), they aren't hiding their love behind palm fronds.
That Aishwarya Rai and Salman Khan are the industry's latest lovebirds is a song that every tree in Film City is singing these days. Matter of fact, some beaches in Goa have also joined the chorus. Ash and Sallu were there, ushering in the new millenium (or turn of the millenium, let's not get into specifics here) in the land of Sun, Sea and Sin. Well, they weren't alone. The entire world and who's who of the Social Register was there as well. And tongues haven't stopped wagging about how the straitlaced Aishwarya shrugged off her stiff propah demanour and was rolling in the golden sands with her paramour, Salman kissing and hugging and cootchie-cooing for the whole world to see. The love story that started on the sets reached its crescendo amid deep blue sky and sea.
Which is why it is difficult to understand why the two are not working together. Any verily-in-love hero-heroine pair will vouch for the fact that there's nothing like signing half a dozen movies together to ensure that they get to spend all their working and non-working hours in each other's loving arms. History proves the veracity of this fact. Akshay-Raveena, Akshay-Shilpa (definitely looks like AK has been victim of all play and no work!), Sanjay-Sushmita, Manisha-Nana Patekar, Ajay-Kajol... the list is endless. So, one expected that after 'Hum Dil...' and especially after falling in love, there would be a flood of Ash-Salman announce-ments.
However there's not a single movie that the two have signed together. Though, Aishwarya has signed up with G.S. Entertainment who will be representing her professionally and which is part-owned by Salman's brother Sohail, a film with him is nowhere in the picture, so to speak. So near, yet so far kind of scenario, this. Many felt that it was because Ash's parents didn't like Salman too much. That, insiders believed, was the reason for no professional inter-action.
But when delved into, there seemed a lot in this matter than met the eye. Apparently, it is not Aishwarya's parents (only) but Salman's family who were the cause for this no-working-together pact of sorts between the lovebirds. "Salman's family feels that Aishwarya is with him only to further her professional interests," said a source close to the Khan family. Salman didn't like the insinuation and wanted to prove to his family that it wasn't so. That his ladylove had no other interests other than love. And in a bid to prove that, he vowed not to sign any more movies with Aishwarya. Sacrificing all the time he could've spent with her (and be paid for!) at the altar of familial proving-a-point.
Things weren't going too well for the lovers from Ash's side either. Her parents pointedly disapproved of her choice and made no bones about it. So far Ash has maintained a stiff upper lip about her relationship with Salman, resorting to the good old "good friends" routine. But the world is in on her secret. And people smile benignly and knowingly at the actress for wanting to close her eyes and pretending that no one could see her. You see, all actresses do that. Hide their love. They wouldn't like to talk about involvement because it might sour filmmakers' visions. An involved actress is out, out, out of the wish-list of most makers.
But that alone isn't the reason for Aishwarya's tongue-tied shyness where Salman is concerned. She had another, more serious motivation to keep her feelings for Salman under wraps. Her parents. Mr. and Mrs. Rai, it is popular knowledge, don't exactly love Salman with the same fervour that their daughter does. Also, many feel that Salman is not a very good influence on Aishwarya Rai. At least professionally speaking. The ultra-professional Ms. Rai was seen sauntering in later and later at many of her schedules and would spend all the non-shooting time talking on the phone with Salman. The Rais have apparently heard of all this and aren't liking things one bit. They just don't think Salman Khan is Mr. Right for their lovely daughter. In fact they believe rather firmly that he's All Wrong. With floor-thumping emphasis too.
And not without reason either. Salman's wild reputation enters a room months before he does. At any given moment, the shirtless wonder is linked with at least three different women, none of whom he's ever serious about. The media's been speculating about who the lucky(?) girl is going to be, but the industry's not-so-eligible bachelor just escapes any kind of permanence, slipping away from slipping on the ring on any finger. In other words, Salman loves the chase, enjoys the thrill of moving in for the kill, and then leaves the trapped prey, on the prowl for the next. Talking about just some of his serious involvements, it was exit Sangeeta Bijlani, enter Somy Ali. Then exit Somy, enter Aishwarya Rai, with Salman unchaining himself from each with the ease of Harry Houdini. Commitment-phobia or just your garden-variety rake, Salman is lots of food for any shrink.
However this time round, with Aishwarya, things are supposed to be different. Salman Khan, close friends say, has finally found love. But this time, circumstances are putting the spoke in the wheel. Simple, South Indian and conservative, the Rais are understandably thrown off by the man their daughter seems to be besotted with. They don't approve. And in a bid to take their daughter's mind firmly away from the philandering Khan, they have been trying to arrange her marriage with relatively suitable boy.
But Ash didn't fall in with the plan and Salman continued his heart control. In fact, news is that Aishwarya has bought a place of her own, where she will live on her ownsome (well, technically at least). She doesn't want to be dependent on her parents and feels it's time to test her wings, that's the reason given. But people in the know feel that this is Ash's way of rebellion. Though it is rather hard to believe, considering how attached the Scorpio gal is to her family.
But that still didn't change things on the professional front. Salman and Ash are doing no films together, (at the risk of repeating ourselves) and it isn't for any dearth of offers. Maybe Ash and Salman are trying to please everybody and not rock their loveboat either. But how long this tightrope-walk will go on is questionable. Besides which is the fact that it doesn't make sense for two stars who make a combustible screen pairing not to work together. It is, like a director pointed out, "rather foolish". But like, Aerosmith screamed, 'Falling in love is so hard on the knees'.Salman and Ash have definitely grazed theirs.
Ash has hurt more than her knees, incidentally. Which added another rather shocking twist to the story. News of another kind sizzled its way into the cathouse. Aishwarya Rai has been going around with her hand in a cast and a black eye which was explained as a fall down the steps of her home. But sources claimed that it was Salman Khan who was responsible for it. Apparently he wanted her to attend a party and she couldn't make it. Enraged, he rumouredly landed on the sets of Yash Chopra's 'Mohabbatien' and picked her up and well... showed her his displeasure. But this particular story is almost impossible to believe. Not because Salman is not capable of such kind of behaviour. But because Ash isn't the kind to take it lying down. And Ash and Salman are still very much together. In fact, they even performed together at an award function to thump down the rumours. And incidentally Salman cancelled all his schedules recently to be with his lady-love at Jaisalmer, where Ash was shooting for Raj Kanwar's 'Dhai Akshar Pyar Ke'. But tongues continues to wag in the industry and the whisper is a din now. So one doesn't exactly know what happened there.
As things stand now, this is the scene. Ash and Salman aren't working together. They are still very much in love. And neither sets of parents approve. Where they go from here is anybody's guess. Whether this is a love that will weather all storms or a meek affair that will succumb to external pressures, remains to be seen.