One needs to be lucky to have a sunny day in London in mid October. Or maybe Vipul Shah is lucky? It's 1 pm in London and it's time to visit Salman Khan on the sets of London Dreams.
The shoot location was on the London Bridge. Ajay Devgan and Salman were seated in their tent with a couple of guitars. Their co-star, MTV VJ Rannvijay was also present.
Vipul was behind the camera and gearing up for the song sequence. In walked the gorgeous Asin. Both Salman and Asin got the shot right in three takes. As soon as Sallu walked in, he acceded to the request of a one-on-one with him on Heroes. Salman said, "The Hero is here, start recording".
(Laughs) Nice way to start huh! But the ultimate hero is not me but Sohail Khan. Watch out for him.
Sohail has done really well for himself, hasn't he?
Yes. When Sohail did Maine Dil Tujhko Diya, his performance was well received but the film didn't do really well. So somewhere down the line he got a bit demoralized. He was doing well as a director and with his production company. At that point of time he wanted to do action but the fact is that he's good at comedy. He is one of the few people who can do justice to action and comedy. But as a family we thought he should concentrate on comic roles. That's when Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya, God Tussi Great Ho, Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na, Hello and now Heroes.
Your absence was really missed at the premiere of your recently released Hello.
You're right. I truly missed the premiere. But I was here in London shooting for London Dreams. I also missed being there as my whole family was present at the premiere and it's the first time I've stayed away from my family on Id.
As you must be aware, Mr Bachchan is in the hospital. Anything you'd like to convey to him or his well wishers through this interview?
Yeah of course. He is one of the senior most and talented actors we have in our industry today. It affects the industry big time. We all are worried for him. But don't forget that Mr Bachchan is a fighter and will come out a winner. But something like this happening on his birthday is quite depressing.
Is Heroes a tribute to the Indian Jawans?
Heroes isn't about the Indian Jawans. It's about two guys who just want to have fun and then they get an exercise in finding out if joining the army is important or not. The Jawans in Heroes played by Sunny, Bobby, Dino and myself can be Pakistani, American, Chinese or Japanese because you will find such guys anywhere.
Infact, to one of my dialogues in the film, "Yeh jung kab khatam hogi?" my co-star replies, "Yeh jung thodi hain. Jung to tab hoti thi jab raja maharaja khud aage aate the ladne ke liye. Jis din woh neta jo yeh treaty sign karte hain, woh ladenge, tab yeh jung khatam hogi". It's a very meaningful film.
Vatsal Seth brought to our notice that you did not smoke a cigarette as you were wearing a turban. Very touching.
Yeah, that's true. That's the reason I am trying to quit smoking. I normally don't talk about smoking and I try not to smoke whenever possible.
And it's also about respect. If you're going to respect somebody's religion and somebody's culture, I think they're going to respect your culture and your religion. I believe that all the religions are basically the same. They preach and teach the same things. It's just that they have different ways of doing it. But I don't understand this Hindu - Muslim rift. Name one Hindu man or woman who does not have a Muslim friend or vice versa. This is just a card that the politicians play.
Does Vatsal Seth have a bright future?
He is the cute 'Tarzan' Boy. He is an adorable kid. Even though he is around 26 or 27, he looks 15 to 16 year old. He is training hard and trying to put on a bit of weight. And once he gets that, he will be an even better looking boy. You know, those lover boy roles which Kumar Gaurav, Aamir Khan and I've done in the past don't work now. It's time for a change, a drastic change. Vatsal will have to change his image if he wants to survive in the industry. With this film, he will do justice to his role just as Riteish, Aftab and Arshad have done in their films.
From a serious conversation to something not that serious - Preity Zinta. Let's talk about her.
(Laughs) She is a serious actress but sometimes she is a complete brat. Can you believe it; she went to some acting classes to learn the Punjabi accent. So when she came and started talking in Punjabi, I was shocked. It was too good. I've worked with Preity in more than five films now. So we jell well and have a good rapport.
Is it true that Heroes has nothing to do with war on the battle field?
Yes. Heroes has nothing to do with war, fights and violence. It has nothing of that sort in it. Sohail and Vatsal have to deliver three letters to the parents of the three shaheed jawans. Heroes is not a Gadar, a Border or Maa Tujhe Salaam. When you see this film, you'll come to know that it is a very entertaining film with an important message.
You play one of the Jawans in Heroes. How did you make your character look rough and tough?
First of all, I did not put on a fake beard. I wanted to grow my own beard and make it look very authentic. Then again, we are actors and we have to act. There is no way out. It's more about the convincing nature of the character you play. So even if I was lean, I can look tough. In addition, the post-production, action coordinators, fight sequences, also help build the tough guy image. It is not physically possible to do the kind of stuff what Khalli or the Rock can do (laughs).
What was your experience in the Mannata song with Preity. It's soothing to the ears.
Yes, it is. Actually we were not getting the right lyrics for the song. I did hear the same song from Sajid - Wajid in Hindi and advised them to change it into Punjabi. So they had to re-work the lyrics. Mannata is an outstanding song and I love it. We shot the song in the fields of Punjab and it was fun. I can still remember the smell of the fresh fields and the earth.
Have you seen Heroes?
Yeah. I've seen the trailer of the film and the rushes too. Heroes brought tears to my eyes. That's the maximum I've cried while watching any film. Samir Karnik has done an outstanding job with Heroes. He is the true Hero. The film is so well shot.
Both Nanhe Jaislamer and Samir's debut film Kyun, Ho Gaya Na were not successful at the box office. Then why did you say Yes to Heroes?
First of all, I told Samir not to make Nanhe Jaisalmer but he wanted to do it. He did approach me for Nanhe Jaisalmer but I said No to it. Then he comes up with , to which I immediately said Yes. I think this film is going to be a sure shot hit. I will be surprised if Heroes does not do well. Plus Eros International is doing the marketing. Their last Samir Karnik film did not work. So I hope they do justice to Heroes (laughs).
Your manager Vikas Kapoor has now turned producer with Heroes. He has formed his company Future Picture Productions along with Samir Karnik. Any comments?
I'm happy for him. He is my manager and quite efficient with his work. He used to handle the production side of things and then turned manager. But after sometime, you need to move on in life, which he did. He then started to handle Sohail Khan's work as a production manager. Then the title of executive producer was tagged on to him and now he is the producer. Vikas has always gone a step further in his career and I'm very happy for him.
How's London's mid-October sunny weather treating you, Salman?
(Laughs) I hope it stays like this for a few months till I am here. I am here till October 24. It is pretty strange because when I was shooting for Salaam-E-Ishq it was summer time and it was cold. I don't know what is happening to our planet man! But sunny weather in October and people sun bathing is a strange sight especially in London. Everything is becoming too unpredictable.
How much of Salman Khan off screen represents Balkar Singh of Heroes?
Every character I play or I've played is in a way close to me. There is some trait in me, which has to have a resemblance. If I don't have that spark, I cannot play it. I choose those roles that I can comfortably perform. My onscreen roles bring out an aspect of Salman Khan, which is off-screen. Balkar Singh is tough, patriotic, loving and a good guy. I too am a good guy and not a bad one as many people think I am.
Where do you want the premiere of Heroes to take place?
I'm here till October 24 and then going to Mumbai. Vikas and Samir are in Dubai on October 22. So if they come here and do a special screening, nothing like it. I'd love Heroes to premiere in London on the October 23.
Why not go shopping during Diwali? Why watch Heroes instead?
There are lots of reasons to go and watch a movie - 'Kya kar rahe ho aaj? Chalo picture dekhte hain', 'do ghante ki film hain, chal dekh kar aate hain', 'maine is film ke baare mein kaafi accha suna hain'. The publicity, the word of mouth, your favourite hero is in the film, it's a good story, etc. I think Heroes is a combination of just about everything. Plus, there is no chechorapan in the film at all. It's a meaningful film and it doesn't bore you. It's a fun film.