My dad asked me to join Shashilal Nair as an assistant in FALAK to learn the ropes of direction, because he wanted me to have a secure career, narrates Salman Khan, during his tete-a-tete with Jyothi Venkatesh …

The title of JAI HO was initially MENTAL. Why did you change the title to JAI HO?

JAI HO is a way of greeting. I changed it from MENTAL because my dad had a problem with MENTAL, and rightly so, especially coming with me in just the way I would be called out. In today’s era, if any person is honest and incorruptible, he is called a mental, as being corrupt and corrupted has become a part of us. If a man is honest we tell, ‘Don’t go to him, he is a mental.’ That is why Dad suggested we use JAI HO as the title since it is bigger and better.

Isn’t JAI HO a remake of a Telugu hit?

Yes, it is the remake of the Telugu hit STALIN starring Chiranjeevi. Directed by Sohail Khan, ‘JAI HO’ also features newcomer Daisy Shah, besides Tabu, Suniel Shetty and Danny Denzongpa.

What is the message that is being conveyed through Jai Ho?

JAI HO is a film centred on an Aam Aadmi. Generally when we take something from some one we say thank you and think of giving it back. If some one gives you something it is because it is his need to give, and you need not give it back. Instead you should give it to three more people. Today I may not want anything, but tomorrow my kids or grand kids may need something, and at that time someone will be there to give them and compete the circle.

Is it true that you had started your career by joining director Sashilal Nair as his assistant?

Yes. My dad had asked me to assist director Shashilal Nair when he was making the Jackie Shroff starrer FALAK, because he felt that I would not be able to click in Hindi films as an actor, and didn’t want me to experience the heartbreaks which he had experienced as a struggling actor. However, luckily for me, his fears proved to be unfounded and today I am busy as a star.

You are now the Czar among the stars whose films have crossed the coveted 100 Cr, with films like READY, BODYGUARD, DABANGG, EK THA TIGER and even DABANGG 2. How do you feel being part of the league?

My filmi funda is very simple. Every film will not necessarily cross the 100 Cr league just because I am in it. If a film is bad, it will definitely not cross the 100 Cr plus mark. It is not easy, but it is achievable now if a film is good. It was difficult to believe that a film can gross 100 Cr plus two years back but now it is quite possible.

Can we hail you as the Rajanikant of Bollywood?

Though I love Rajinikanth, I would not at all hesitate to state that if I reach anywhere close to him I will be really happy, considering the kind of person that he is.

What is your take on success?

I have my own pulse. I will succeed only if I believe that my own pulse is that of the audiences. As Salman Khan, I have become a megalomaniac. If I can deliver as Chulbul Pandey, it is fine but it is bad if I do my role as Salman Khan.

After acting with established directors like Subhash Ghai and David Dhawan, how easy was it for you to work with a new director like Arbaaz Khan?

In my career, with the exception of Subhashji and David Dhawan, I have worked most of the times with only new directors, whether it was Karan Johar in KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI, Sanjay Leela Bhansali in KHAMOSHI, Siddique in BODYGUARD, Abhinav Kashyap in DABANGG, Kabeer Khan in EK THA TIGER, Prabhudheva in WANTED, Anees Bazmee in READY or for that matter Arbaaz Khan in DABANGG 2.

How was Arbaaz as a director in Dabangg 2?

Arbaaz is an industry boy from a film family. There was a time when he used to assist on the sets. Arbaaz is a sensible boy and knows the rips of direction very well and is a fantastic story teller. What I like the best about Arbaaz is that we have a comfort zone and he set out to make the film with his own hard earned money and not someone else’s. If he did not like the way a particular scene was shot for DABANGG 2, he used to even insist on re-shooting it.

How tough is it to come up with a sequel?

It is very difficult to make a sequel. Even in the West, it is only Sylvester Stallion’s sequels to ROCKY and RAMBO that have done well at the box office. When you set out to make a sequel, you tend to get carried away. If it looks like we deliberately set out to make a comedy, it cannot be similar.

Is there any film in the offing where your father Salim Khan will write the subject?

People ask me why my father is not writing for any film when any director would gladly give his right arm to have a script written by the man who had written legendary films like DEEWAR and SHOLAY. I am however, glad that my father is enjoying his retirement phase because frankly, I do not think that he has the patience to deal with the directors and the kind of sensibilities that they come with today.

You seem to like action a lot!

To keep myself fit, I want to do action. I would love to do a film iff action comes in it with a baggage of emotion. Whether it is an action film or an emotional film, the introductory fight has to be interesting enough to hold you as a viewer. The older you grow, the better you grow as an actor. If action is over, romance is over. I am glad that kids today call me Salman or Salman Khan and not Salman Uncle. Even Salman Khan calls me bhai. The younger lot of actors today are a superb lot because they come prepared to the sets.

Are you planning to do an out-and-out action film?

Action alone will be very boring. I’d not like to watch a film if it is not larger than life. It will be difficult to do an out-and-out action film like Jackie Chan does in film after film.

People insist that you interfere with your directors. Is it true?

After VEER, in the interest of my films, I had decided that the final cut of my films will go only with my approval. I feel that what Aamir does is correct. I only hope that I do not take advantage of my stardom when I put my foot down.

What next after Jai Ho?

I have already started work on Sohail’s SHER and also Sajid Nadiadwala’s KICK and will soon start working on Sooraj Barjatya’s next film.

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