Star, style & action

Eid and Salman Khan have a recurrent connection. It’s been 10 years with nine films as gifts for his frenzied fans, starting with Wanted (2009) — Salman missed out on a release in 2013. And this time, Salman produces, stars in, distributes, and writes lyrics for Race 3, a franchise into which he steps in after Race (2008) and Race 2 (2013). This time, the common points with the older films are producer Ramesh Taurani, and Anil Kapoor, reprising the role of Robert D’Costa.  

Here’s how it unfolded

We start off with a query on his starry entry into an already huge franchise and what he feels about it. Salman is in a gregarious and naughty mood, humming a tune from his film, and replies, “Really? Is Race huge? Ramesh-ji was always complaining that it was Dhoom that was the big one and Race wasn’t as big! Yes, this time, it is a different race, it is with Hum Aapke Hain Koun!” 

Has he watched the earlier films in the series? “I admit I have had no time at all to watch both the films. But, in a way, it’s good I didn’t watch them. I could add my own inputs,” he quips.

Wasn’t it the idea that Race 3 set new benchmarks in action, we ask. He nods, “Yes, our action team was from abroad as we had Tom Struthers and his team. Tom had worked on Tiger Zinda Hai and also films like Dunkirk, and his whole team is like the number one in Hollywood.”

He quips, “But they said that though they had worked on so many big films out there, it was the first time that they got to destroy so many cars! We were not into Dinky cars (miniatures) or special effects. We blew up pretty much all the 16 cars we bought. My co-stars had dreamt of having a car each from all those we bought, but all they will be able to get now are small pieces of them.” He beams at his own statement.

The action here is spectacular and believable. “Action costs a lot of money. The trick is not to go overboard, and if you are not fit, it can look farcical and make it laughable,” he says. But Salman is very impressed by the work put in by Jacqueline Fernandez and Daisy Shah. “They have not just raised the bar but are lethal. They really, really trained for it, and when they fight, it’s like two men fighting.” he declares.

What made Salman Khan distribute this film? “That’s simple,” he answers. “My dad (Salim Khan) has his own distribution setup and he distributes films in Central India and Rajasthan. For Race 3, we were in talks with Eros, but when that fell through, I decided to do it myself.”

What about his foray into writing lyrics again after the theme song of Wanted? “Oh, I just thought of a few lines in sync with the story,” he notes. “Music director Vishal Mishra read them and was excited, even though it was more like a part of a conversation. He made a tune for it.”

An interesting nugget is of Salman and Iulia Vantur just recording a song for Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se, to be filmed on Bobby Deol and Kriti Kharbanda. “Yes, I had the song ready for a future film and decided to gift it to him. Bobby is like my brother,” he nods. “He came on board Race 3 on my request, and he has made such efforts to develop his physique that I should call him ‘Body’ Deol! After this, I am also making a film for him that will bring him back as a Greek god.” 

About his own character, Salman describes him as “sharp, humorous yet ruthless. He has suppressed all his emotions, so the audience won’t know what this man is about until the end of the film.’’

Salman points out that for him, choosing a film is instinctive, but with Race 3 he had to “remove one or two things he had not liked in the narration.” He scoffs at ruminating over an offer. “I must instantly like it,” he asserts. “I will think about it or let someone know tomorrow — those options have never happened.”

Taking it easy? 

He adds that he is doing whatever he wants to and has no lofty ambitions. “I am back to doing two films at a time,” he declares. “I am simultaneously shooting for Bharat and Dabangg 3, and then I will do Sher Khan, whose scripting is on, and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s next when he comes for a narration.” He adds that Kick 2 will happen only when the script is ready and that the dance film with Race 3 director Remo will happen as well.”

Wasn’t the dance film supposed to happen way before Race 3? “Yes, it was, but I told Remo that, for me, learning dancing would take time.” he wisecracks. “Whenever I would try it out, my knee would give up, or my back, or my shoulder! However, I did ask Remo to give me hard steps inRace 3. I must dance, otherwise, I will be kicked out of the industry.”

But at 52, he and his generation of heroes are still going strong. What does he think of Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor and even co-star Anil Kapoor going strong even now as character artistes?

“Anil is, today, what Bachchan-sir was when he entered this phase,” he says. “But when Sanjay Dutt comes on screen, he is still a hero, so we — Akshay, Aamir, Shah Rukh, Ajay and I — can still be heroes as well!” In a significant aside, he notes, “I only wish that Sanjay had played himself in the ‘current’ sequences of Sanju!”

Among the younger stars, Salman has always rooted for Varun Dhawan and Tiger Shroff and his reasons are as clear as they are unique: “The rest of them seem to think that Hindi film audiences are restricted to upmarket Mumbai areas.” Clearly, he wants a strong pan-Indian future for Hindi cinema, and he has a simple solution to enhance economics.

Rooting, as always, for the masses, Salman, who voluntarily refused to hike ticket rates for his home production Jai Ho! in 2014, states, “The need of the hour is more theatres. We just have 5,500 movie halls, whereas in China, there are 40,000-plus theatres. Just think of the business we would do even with 15,000 movie halls.”

Yes, you guessed it right. Rather than just talk about it, Salman is set to also launch a chain of affordable theatres in smaller centres, beginning first with Maharashtra. And that makes him the biggest multitasker among the top stars as well.

 

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