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When men were men

Nursing a back-ache,Salman Khan wearily finds comfort in nicotine as he sequentially deals with fans,journalists and a friend who wants him to promote an event. In an oddly reassuring fashion...

Nursing a back-ache,Salman Khan wearily finds comfort in nicotine as he sequentially deals with fans,journalists and a friend who wants him to promote an event. In an oddly reassuring fashion,though,we get to see the trademark removal of his T-shirt as his manager makes him try on a merchandise vest. Despite the 70-plus films in a career that has spanned over 20 years,Khan,in our first meeting,comes across as astutely calculated and slightly haughty,with only hints of being jaded.

Asked how much he contributed to the script of Veer which he has co-written,Khan proudly states: “I’ve written the film. I really felt at home while writing; it was spoken straight from the heart—the way I feel about men,romance.” We didn’t question the fact that it is a period film,but he continues: “I wanted to do a film on men,father-son relationships and romance,which is why it had to be a period film. There’s no romance now,we don’t have the relationships people had back then; I took it back to the 1800s as it was a time when men were men,they would die for their word.”

Khan states that despite featuring a revolution,romance is a huge part of the story as it ignites the battle. “The film is based in a remote village and is about the Pindari tribe—the British said they were barbaric thugs. They were actually farmers that turned into guerrilla fighters; the revolution basically started from Pindaris,” he says,offering a piece of India’s history. The plot does take us back to Mel Gibson’s Braveheart.

Khan originally wanted to cast Sanjay Dutt in the film which he wrote before he became an actor. “At the time,everything was booming so we couldn’t have covered the cost; the recession made it possible now.” Asked about whether it was a risk casting Zarine Khan,the debutant from the UK,Khan says: “She’s a Pathan girl who speaks Hindi and Urdu well and was spectacular in the screen test. It was pure luck.” Despite Zarine being half his age and reminiscent of Katrina Kaif,Khan managed to bond well with Zarine; “Chemistry is really important,as long as you don’t take the chemistry home.”

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Veer,says Khan,also has a social message behind it. “The basic thought was that when everybody starts saying ‘this is my country’ that you can actually take this country forward. Fighting corruption,fighting ignorance,in all these things you have to take the lead.” When asked if he could see himself going beyond the message of the film in fighting corruption or ignorance,Khan dismissed the idea,saying “No,not really.”

Khan does have philanthropic interests though,however cursory they may seem. When asked what causes he is interested in helping,Khan simply says “Children.” This year should see the full-fledged establishment of his charity,Being Human,for which he has already garnered enough publicity primarily through the sale of paintings he created. “We expect to establish Being Human early this year. The merchandising is going to take time because people started making fake T-shirts.”

Post-Veer,Khan will shoot for the third season of his popular television show,Dus Ka Dum. Any more scripts up his sleeve? He says: “There are enough script writers around.”

First published on: 08-01-2010 at 11:23:24 pm
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