As ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’ gears up for release, Salman Khan talks about his friendship with Sooraj Barjatya, the impact of cinema and acting in mass entertainers.
You’re collaborating with Sooraj Barjatya after over 15 years. Prem became synonymous with you. How was the experience of being Prem again?
It’s been a long journey, we’ve worked on three films in the past. So we’re that much closer and know Prem really well. With Maine Pyar Kiya, we didn’t know where we were going, we were really young. We didn’t know what the future held for us. But with Prem Ratan…, Sooraj has made his most beautiful film. In the last few days of shooting, Sooraj kept wishing for rain, or something else to happen so that he could go on for another day even though that costs money. That the whole journey was getting over, made him emotional. So I told him, start the next one.
The film also marks a departure from the characters you have essayed in the last few years, in action films such as Wanted and Dabangg.
One needs to keep doing different stuff. If a particular genre becomes a hit, other films like that come in, and the equation changes every few years. Till some time ago, it was action, which will come back again with Dabangg 3. ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’ is a beautiful love story made on a big scale. We’ve shot at forts and palaces, and even had a sheesh mahal set. As far as the central character is concerned, I’d say there’s a Prem in all of us. I hope that people go with their whole families for it — like a picnic, or how in villages people go to fairs packed together in trucks. I hope it’s on that level because it’s a very simple, funny and emotional film.
The return of Geeta, the Indian girl stranded in Pakistan for over a decade, had many drawing parallels with Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
Every time you watch a positive, noble film, it changes a part of you. Such films will bridge gaps. Bilquis Bibi and her son took very good care of Geeta. She’s not their child, not from that country, but they ensured they kept her as their own. Now that she’s back, I hope that these parents give her more love and respect than two ajnabees in Pakistan gave her.
You recently didn’t allow for the trailer of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani to be released with Prem Ratan Dhan Payo.
It’s just people playing it up for publicity. Prem Ratan… is almost three hours long. While the audience today has money, they’re time-strapped. The length becomes that much more if you add a trailer. Then you lose out on the number of screenings and consequently, revenue.
But Dilwale’s trailer will be screened with your film.
Shah Rukh had already told us a long time ago that he wanted this, so we put it there.
You’re still very guarded when it comes to intimate scenes. In Hero, your production, a kissing scene between Athiya Shetty and Sooraj Pancholi was scrapped.
That’s a rumour; there was no kissing scene in Hero. As for kissing on screen, I don’t. If you don’t feel comfortable, you should not do it. I don’t think it’s necessary but then to each his own. Sunny Leone films have done well in the past, so you know there is a market for such films. And if there is, you should make them.
Your last few films have crossed the Rs 100-crore mark. Do you only pick films that will appeal to the masses?
The ticket prices have become quite steep in the last few years. When a fan comes to the theatre, he should not feel that his Rs 500 have gone waste. Why would he pay so much money to watch something not worthwhile? So, while selecting a script, my main focus is that the audience shouldn’t lose money.