Salman Khan: The Mean Machine - by Jitesh Pillai Back   Home  
Taking the rap for shooting black buck one year. Supposedly lashing out at his lady love the next. He’s the bare-bodied bane of his own existence. So what if he’s a hero for the bubblegum brigade, Salman Khan is his own worst enemy off-screen. Jitesh Pillai attempts to find out why the star couldn’t care less about being self-destructive

There’s a God in Bollywood. There really is. That’s why no journalist worth his newsprint gets an interview with Salman Khan. Thank God. Or else the star would subject you to a barrage of malodorous invectives of the mother-sister variety. How journos are *&$*&#@. And then some more. On occasions he’s gone eye-level close to a journo and said, “I don’t have a problem with you, I have a problem with myself.” Right said Salman.

There’s a God in Bollywood. Which is why Salman Khan was made the way he is. His pectorals are the stuff gymnasiums boast of, but never have. Hrithik Roshan has always gone on record to say, “Salman is responsible for the wonderful physique I have. When I wanted to join the movies, he gave me so much advice on my diet and what exercises to do.” If Roshan Jr is a prototype of Zeus, Salmanbhai is responsible in no small measure. Sweet. Maybe that also explains why Hrithik Roshan was at Salman’s side during his darkest hours recently, after all the newspapers went to town about his dark dark deeds.

There’s a God in Bollywood. Who smiles on Salman Khan. Wish he’d realise that too. Super duper bonanzas like Maine Pyar Kiya, Karan Arjun, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun have ensured him a permanent place in the annals of history. One of the hottest actors in the pantheon, his overseas market is formidable. And yet he wants to chuck it all up in a haze of alcohol. It’s none of our business to comment on how he goes about his life. But yes, when the booze binges show on screen, it’s time to ring a warning bell. Something’s got to give.

There’s a God in Bollywood. That’s why everyone, be it actors Shah Rukh Khan and Karisma Kapoor, or directors like David Dhawan, loves Salman. Shah Rukh remembers that the Khan family treated him as its own, when he came to Mumbai from Delhi. Even today, SRK jumps up in Salman’s defence. Anyone disparages Salman and SRK protests, “If ever I have a problem, I know Salman will be there for me. Let him be, he’s just a kid. He’s got a heart of gold. You don’t even know the turmoil he goes through. He can’t show it.”

There’s a God in Bollywood. Perhaps that’s the reason that despite all his peccadilloes, his friends will be by his side. He had a run-in with Rishi Kapoor’s teenage son Ranbir in a – dare one say it – drunken stupor. The next morning, the contrite Khan sent the youngster the best designer threads available in the city. The vest was won. Cho chweet, no?

There’s a God in Bollywood. How else would you explain one of the most beautiful women in the world falling head over heels with him four years ago? One of the most talked about romances, yet no confirmation from either side. Okay, so there may have been no physical abuse as reported by sections of the media. But can one deny that it was one of the most temperamental relationships in the history of glowbiz? At last count, Ash’s father had lodged a complaint with the Khar police station in Mumbai. Jog your memory cells. From banging furiously on Ash’s door to ramming his vehicle into her stationary car in a fit of pique, Salman’s been through the entire gamut. Okay, he loved her passionately. He wanted to marry her. But a relationship fraught with peril had to give.

Why is one of the country’s stellar stars on a death wish? Is it the pressures of celebrity? Says psychiatrist Anjali Chhabria, “I can’t comment on Salman because I don’t know him. But yes, the stress of celebrity is huge. Everything is public. Success, highs, lows and even humiliation. Moreover the self-esteem of many stars depend on how good or bad they look. Alcohol, cigarettes and late nights put a lot of stress on the already stressed-out individual.”

There’s a God in Bollywood. That’s why Salman is generous to a fault. Recently, while driving to Mumbai’s Madh Island when he learnt through the papers that a child was suffering from an incurable disease, he drove back to the Hinduja hospital, donated blood and gave monetary help. No one will ever know of the charities. The episodes of bad behaviour have been enshrined for posterity.

Post the Aishwarya Rai fiasco, a pall of gloom has descended upon Galaxy Apartments in the suburbs of Mumbai, Bandra, where the Khans reside. A steady stream of stars pours into his flat till the wee hours of the night, all telling him to get on with life and not mull over a dead relationship. But opinions in the industry are divided. A catty actress remarks, “Why does she play mind games and do this to him? What’s the point of being friends when the relationship is over? She needles him.”

There’s a God in Bollywood. That’s why the public memory is so short. They couldn’t be bothered about what you do in your private life as long as you continue to give paisa-vasool entertainment. They don’t care if you’re prone to extreme violence as long as you can serenade them with violins and roses on screen. They don’t care if you haven’t slept till four in the morning and have black circles under your eyes off-screen. In the turbulent darkness of the theatre they want only eye-candy.

Off it, there’s mayhem, on screen, Salman Khan creates magic. At the age of 36, his well-wishers insist that he’s still a child. Easy does it, kid.

Thank God for Bollywood.
Published in TimesOfIndia