Salman Khan. Take the name and an intimidating image of a macho ‘Bhai’ pops in your mind. And why not so? For the last decade, Salman Bhai (as he is fondly addressed by fans) has been delivering hit after hit based on just one formula — the phenomenon called Salman Khan. Save a few ifs and buts in his last ten films, Salman’s role has been pretty much consistent with characters that own up to Bhai’s charisma on screen. Whether you look at his street gangster Radhe in Wanted, the badass officer Chulbul Pandey in Dabangg or the RAW agent Tiger in Ek Tha Tiger, the universe around changes but it still revolves around our beloved Bhaijaan.
But things were not always the same. Before Wanted happened in 2009, Salman was the shining star of romantic dramas and out-and-out comedies. He essayed his first lead role in Maine Pyaar Kiya as Prem and then followed an onslaught of films featuring the different avatars of Prems.
“People go to watch my films during festivals. They dress up, cheer and whistle. I have some other connect with my audience. They just don’t want to see me cry on screen,” quipped Salman in an interview to indianexpress.com earlier. But if truth be told, even a non-Bhai fan like me would love for Salman to go back to his old days, shed a tear or two on screen, be convincing, be PREM, not in the Suraj Barjatya Prem Ratan Dhan Payo kind of way, but in the Andaz Apna Apna and Judwaa kind of way. Today on Salman Khan’s 52nd birthday, we look at five of his better performances. Rankings are in no particular order.
Maine Pyaar Kiya
28 years ago, when Maine Pyaar Kiya happened, it changed the life of three people — Salman, Bhagyashree and Sooraj Barjatya. Their debut film was not just the highest grossing film of the year but also one of the biggest hits of the decade. From his sweet chemistry with Suman to his serious struggle in wooing her father Karan (Aloknath), Salman’s act as the romantic chocolate boy Prem left a mark in the hearts of many. One can never understand the true transformation Bhai has gone through without watching Maine Pyar Kiya.
Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!
1994’s biggest family entertainer Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! was again a Sooraj Barjatya directorial featuring Salman Khan. This time, Prem was a complete family man, ready to sacrifice everything including the love of his life for them. Initially, the film was expected to be a flop owing to the hefty number of songs but it went to become one of the popular 90s classics earning big bucks at the box office.
As mentioned earlier, the Salman of the 90s was also the star of out-and-out Bollywood comedies. And when he was at it, the audiences were left in splits with his funny antics. His comic timing was perfect and his dialogue delivery chucklesome. David Dhawan’s Judwaa (1997) is one such comic classic. It even featured Salman in a double role — first as Prem, second as Raja. Though today’s moral police would find some of the scenes in the film pretty disturbing, the abundant instances of innocent humour does tickle our funny bones.
Revathy’s 2004 film Phir Milenge was one of the rare films that made fans see Salman Khan in a new light. He plays a vulnerable HIV patient Rohit with an air of conviction and resignation. Though his character is a little underwritten and critics were wary of the fact that Salman doesn’t look as emaciated as a last stage HIV patient would look like, Salman’s performance is moving.
Bajrangi Bhaijaan is one of Salman Khan’s rare movies this decade where he plays a relatively mellowed down and down-to-earth character named Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi. Another refreshing feature of this Kabir Khan flick is the child actor Harshaali Malhotra. For once, an actor is given ample screen presence alongside Salman and if you ignore the dramatic exaggerations, Bajrangi makes for a decent watch.
Here’s wishing Bollywood’s Bhaijaan a very happy 52nd!