Salman Khan on the unhappiness of existence

2003 Dec 7 Hindustantimes By Subhash K Jha (Indo-Asian News Service)

Despite having told off his detractors with "Tere Naam", Salman Khan still doesn't seem too satisfied and that's because, says the brawny Bollywood brat, unhappiness is the one given constant of existence.

Excerpts of an interview:

Q: Though the media was largely hostile, audiences have welcomed your new films.

A: I don't think the general public actually believes everything that's written about me. No matter what the crisis, I was always supported by my fans. One doesn't have to shout from the rooftops to prove one is a good guy.
Making "Tere Naam" a success was one way for my fans to tell my detractors to lay off. I think the success of my films is a big slap on the face of those who try to sell extra copies of their magazines by writing garbage about me.

Q: Curiously, your first release after the hit-and-run controversy took a much larger opening than the film that came before.

A: Yes, but "Tere Naam" was my first release in two years. My two earlier releases, "Tumko Na Bhool Payenge" and "Yeh Hai Jalwa", opened well. Audiences smell a product they like. No matter how much promotion and publicity happens, they won't go for a film unless they want.
When I promote a film I don't like, it shows on my face. "Tere Naam" opened a week after Duggu's (Hrithik Roshan) "Koi... Mil Gaya". Even he experienced so many professional setbacks. And look where that one film put him.

Q: You say your likes and dislikes show on your face. But acting is all about lying?

A: Not for me. For me acting comes straight from the heart. In that sense I don't act at all. I think to feel the character's pain I've to be myself. That's why I'm very careful about what I do in my films. In "Tere Naam" I played a character who smoked endlessly. I told my fans not to imitate him.
I wanted him to be the kind of guy that parents could point to their son and say, "See, that's what we don't want him to be." He was a very real, in many ways very pure-hearted character but out of step with today's reality.

Q: "Tere Naam" was a very dark film. Do you think it would've been bigger success otherwise?

A: I don't know. For that we'll have to make the film again. Yes, in "Tere Naam" my character didn't get the girl. If he did, it would've been just another Hindi film. I got calls from everyone saying the ending shook them. Which is another way of saying it was accepted. I'd say "Tere Naam" was my most off beat role. In all my films I kept doing the tears-and-laughter routine. Here I really let my emotions go.

Q: Your character was involved with excessive violence.

A: But I wasn't being violent for my own sake. There's violence all around us. But my two films after "Tere Naam", "Baghban" and a film tentatively titled "Dil Churaya Aapne" have no violence at all. These are very Hindustani films. Working with Amitabh Bachchan in "Baghban" was an awesome experience. I can go on and on about him. But what's the point?
The other film is a marital drama, which shows that the first fight between a couple is always the beginning of the end. It's got very real scenes between a husband and wife. They fight over nothing, as most couples do.

Q: Everything is going right for you. Then why do you sound so unhappy?

A: We're all born with unhappiness. That's the one "given" of existence. In school you get constantly berated by the teacher, you get out for a while, play cricket and feel better. Then you land up with a wretched job, marry a woman whom things aren't okay with, worry about your children... People you love leave and die. I was so shocked when director Anant Balani died. I did my second film with him. He was a dear friend and I lost touch with him. One of my schoolteachers also passed away recently. I wish I had met him. He used to beat me in school but I knew he intended well for me.

Q: Are you really making a film based on the Ramayana?

A: Of course, though not right away since funds are a little short right now. But I'll certainly play Rama. It's my dream to do so. Who can stop me? I want to make my film on a par with "The Lord Of The Rings", "Lady Hawke" and "The Last Of The Mohicans". It has to be directed by someone with the vision to make the Ramayana contemporary and yet pure. The language has to be accessible to today's generation. Otherwise what's the point of doing Ramayana again?

Dec 8 2003