Long before Sooraj Barjatya happened in Salman Khan’s life, it was popular ad-filmmaker Kailash Surendranath and his wife Aarti who discovered the budding talent of 15-year-old Salman Khan and gave the actor his first break in a Campa Cola ad.
Kailash and Aarti have been close friends with Salman ever since and the husband-wife pair drove all the way to Salman’s farm house in Panvel on Saturday ( December 26) night to wish and celebrate the superstar’s 50th birthday. In an exclusive conversation with The IndianExpress.com, Kailash and Aarti revisited the time when they first met Salman Khan.
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Kailash Surendranth: I first met Salman when we were casting actors for an advertisement of Campa Cola. We had planned to shoot underwater in Andaman islands and were gearing up to leave within in a week’s time with our crew that consisted of top models like Ayesha (Jackie Shroff’s wife), my wife Arti. We had cast almost everyone and needed one more actor who could swim well. Arti’s father was incharge of Hotel Sea Rock at Bandra where they had a club as well. He used to tell her about his good friend Mr. Salim Khan’s son and how I should consider him for a shoot. One day, Arti walked into the club after finishing a shoot and saw a young Salman Khan diving from one end of the pool, swimming underwater and coming out of the other end. However, when you hear Salman telling the story today, he has his point of view. He says when he saw Arti walking in a red sari, he decided to impress her and dived.
Now Arti came and told me that there is this guy and we must take him because he is a great swimmer. So, I said okay and asked if he could see me in my office next morning. The next day Salman came in with his aunt. I looked at him and went outside to ring Arti up immediately. I then asked her, ‘who have you sent in. He is a 15-year old child. How can we take him?’ Arti said, ‘Don’t worry. Ask him to take off his shirt.’ So Salman took off his shirt and I saw that he had a fantastic build. He had a swimmer’s body. He wasn’t doing any weights then but he had broad shoulders and well defined muscles. We finalised him and went to Andaman. It is here that we hit it off big time and formed a lifetime bond. I was older than him but we still connected. He was very mischievous and energetic. I was taking energy from him and he was learning a lot from me. We used to fool around and have a lot of fun at the shoot. I remember me and him playing a telepathy game with other crew who used to be confused as to how we could read each others minds. And that was something that we both had worked out.”
“The shoot itself was fabulous. I remember we were shooting on a Navy boat and the camera had blasted out reflectors on actors because of which Salman couldn’t open his eyes. We didn’t have any extra sunglasses with us. So, I asked the camera man to switch off the reflectors and we took the shot. Salman remembers that very well. He is also a very good swimmer. I was manning the underwater camera at that time and he was the first one to dive off the top of the boat. Another incident that I remember is how while we were shooting in the water, a navy patrol boat came in and asked out to get out as it was full of sharks. But Salman remained cool and composed and he has always been brave till date. That’s how we me and bonded. Back in Mumbai, he used to come to my office, home, meet my parents and we became family.
We made a lot of other commercials together. We did a film with him and Sangeeta Bijlani where she got paid five times more than Salman because she was a bigger star. I remember once taking to him to a client and we were planning to do a wonderful shoot in Kashmir. But the client rejected him saying he is too short and the girl is too tall for him. So, we had all kinds of experiences together.
(See Pics: Happy Birthday Salman Khan : The actor turns 50)
Salman also became fiercely independent very early in life. Before he did Maine Pyaar Kiya, we used to go clubbing in South Mumbai. I remember jokingly telling him, after many nights of partying and waking up late, ‘Salman, why are you wasting your time and your father’s money.’ I just said it as a joke and we started laughing. But he tells me after that day he never ever took money from home. That is the time when he started focusing on films and modelling. And the rest is history.
Salman is very perceptive. He has this knack of reading between the lines when someone says something. He also has an incredible memory. I must also tell you that he is very sincere about women and girlfriends. I have known him all these years. The press also knows about all his girlfriends. But he has never treated a woman badly ever. He has always had that regard for all his women. He is a bit conservative when it comes to his relationships. Yes there were break-ups but not because of his bad behaviour as it was reported often but perhaps because he is not the committing type. As you can see he is still not committed.
I and Arti drove all the way to Panvel yesterday night to celebrate his birthday. His farmhouse is far off but to see so many people attending only speaks volumes about his goodwill. He is very close to Arti. Yesterday, he got a bit emotional and told her it is all because of you that all this has happened. But we don’t feel so. You can’t take credit for anybody’s destiny. He was destined to be a star. What is really wonderful is that we still share the same relationship. We don’t meet each other regularly but our bond is still strong and that is the nicest thing about Salman. He may call up at four in the morning and come home and have Parathas and Bhurji. He is biggest star in the country but is still same old grounded, humble guy from Bandra.
Salman is one of India’s biggest superstars but he is one of the most humblest and generous persons I have ever met. The day I saw him, I knew he would be a big star. I used to tell everyone to watch out for him. No one used to believe me and used to wonder why I am promoting him so much. But I knew he was destined to be a star. He also loves kids and dotes on them. While shooting for Phir Mile Sur, Salman bonded naturally with the physically challenged kids. He learnt the sign language quickly and communicated with the kids. That is what makes him so lovable.