“Ek Tha Tiger is one notch higher than what I’ve done before” – Salman Khan
It has been, Salman Khan agrees, a tumultuous time for the actor tipped to be the Tiger raring to roar at the box office come August 15. A few hours before I am due to interview Khan, I post the following on Twitter – ‘Can’t get any better. Meeting the TIGER this evening for half an hour. It’s gonna be an epic Q n A‘. In the next six hours my interactions on the social networking site were intoxicating. I had to bow down to them and admit that Salman Khan is unarguably a superstar. My perception proved faulty. I enter the gates of Mehboob Studios and head to Studio No. 5 where the Tiger was seated – like a king – head held high, a bit of attitude and persuasive. The surprise upon meeting Salman is his gentleness. Then in a few minutes, he goes beyond politeness – wacky, often smiles at himself and a bit sarcastic; the qualities that aptly describe a superstar. With his brooding charisma the Tiger shakes my hand. He is dressed in sombre casuals – denims and his Being Human t-shirt. Full of grit, spit and courage, Ek Tha Tiger is pitted as a film that’ll leave you open-mouthed or as Salim Khan describes it – “This is a landmark film for Salman Khan”. Ok, enough said! I’ll let the Tiger growl. Presenting you the Tiger and his tales.
Ek Tha Tiger is a genre so rare that you’ve hardly tapped into?
Ek Tha Tiger isn’t any different genre for me. It’s the same genre. It’s got love story, it’s got action, it’s got humour, it’s about how much a guy can do for his love and for his country. Out here, we’ve pushed it to a different level. Your last film has to be a better than your previous one. For me, Ek Tha Tiger is one notch higher than what I’ve done before.
So, tell me more about the Tiger…
Tiger is the most loyal man you can meet. He is to be trusted. Tiger is more like a chameleon, I should say because he keeps on changing his colours. Sometimes he becomes a writer, sometimes a fighter or sometimes a lover. And with so much you know about Tiger, he still remains unpredictable.
You’ve got the biggest opening in the form of Bodyguard. With movies now becoming business, what are your hopes from Ek Tha Tiger?
The fact that the theatres are growing, the business is growing, the audiences are growing, and the fact that we are still not able to break the record of 3 Idiots is not a good sign my friend. Records have to be broken. I will break it or let Aamir break it, who cares but since three years, no film has surpassed that film. It’s shameful.
What was your first interaction with Kabir Khan like?
A friend of mine introduced me to Kabir Khan. He came with a DVD of some portions of a shoot he had done in Afghanistan. Then Adi Chopra sent him to me with Ek Tha Tiger. I have not seen Kabul Express and New York but after seeing what he had shown me from that DVD I could tell that this man can make a kick-a** film. Kabir is a mature human being, sensible and cultured with a great sense of humour and a bit naughty. I heard so many things about Kabir from the sources that he makes logical films, I got a bit uncomfortable at times hearing that but the more time I spent with him, I got to know he was a cool guy.
You make your debut with YRF. That came late, didn’t it?
Yes, it did but it came at the right time. Ek Tha Tiger is written with a positive mind and there was no chauvinism. It’s a movie without any political statements and we aren’t getting into countries and are heading towards a simple and spicy love story. How much a trained man can do is what this movie is showing you. Ek Tha Tiger is in that real space and every frame will make it look believable. Such is the work put in by Kabir Khan. Things have turned out right for this film. Me and Yash Raj coming together, Kabir directing it, Katrina being my leading lady. Adi has given his best in Ek Tha Tiger. I should say that Kabir’s whole career is riding on this film. Everyone is enthusiastic.
Your father’s been associated with YRF films before.
Yes he has. When I signed this film, my father told me that he has had a great working relationship with YRF and when I finish shooting Ek Tha Tiger, they will feel the same. Aditya Chopra has a very commercial mind. He doesn’t think larger than life. He keeps it normal. Kabir’s thinking, Aditya’s thinking and my thinking comes together in making Ek Tha Tiger. I feel Adi is a mix of both of us – Me and Kabir.
Your penchant for writing films, what’s happening with that?
Yes, I want to write films but not right now. I know Veer didn’t work at the box office but as of now I am happy doing all the love-action genre. I am enjoying myself and I am at my career’s highest point. Writing will happen eventually. I like the action genre and it’s difficult to do action, trust me.
You love kicking a** isn’t it? What kind of films do we expect from you next?
All action, that’s it! That’s what you expect from Salman Khan. There has to be so much safety and out here we really don’t care. I would love to do something like The Expendables in India. Make an action film with the top action heroes – Sanjay Dutt, Suneil Shetty, Ajay Devgn and me, of course (laughs). You can tell one thing from the new Expendables 2 that’s coming out that these guys had a blast. I rather do such kind of films. I am not here to prove a point.
You and Katrina Kaif. Again. It’s difficult to frame a question.
Oh is it? Ok, I will make it simple for you. Katrina is the hardest working person I’ve known in the industry. As far as her diction is concerned, from her first film to her last, she has worked hard on it. She speaks with a bit of accent but I guess everyone in India too puts on a fake accent now-a-days (laughs). Anyway, she speaks Hindi fluently now.
‘Mashallah’ is the new chartbuster track. Shaking a leg is easy for you it seems.
Someone said that Salman Khan looks stiff in the song. Boss, I’ve made a stiff style for Tiger. He dances like that. He is different. Ab jaise crumping hai….thumping bhi toh hai! Tough men don’t dance but Tiger does it. He does it in style and with easy steps so that the entire nation can follow him. I don’t spin on my head because no one will be able to copy that.