Salman Khan’s upcoming production venture Notebook is a love story set in Kashmir. The Nitin Kakkar directorial marks the debut of Mohnish Behl’s daughter Pranutan along with Zaheer Iqbal.
During a media interaction while promoting the film, Salman spoke in length about Notebook, his acting career and the present situation in Kashmir.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Q) As a producer, what were your creative inputs in Notebook?
When the film came to me, I knew it was a good film. It came to me a long time ago and I was supposed to do it, but then my image changed. So, I couldn’t. For example, when Subhash Ghai sir came to me with Yuvvraj, I said I wanted to do Hero. But later, we launched Sooraj (Pancholi) with that. So, it is not that we have scripts piling up that I don’t want to do. These are the films I really wanted to do but wasn’t able to for various reasons.
Also, we run every script through dad (Salim Khan). We tell him what the plot is. Then we show him the end rushes. He tells us what to keep, what to remove and what would exactly work.
Q) What is that one advice you would give to today’s actors?
Stay out of trouble. But you never know, you may be staying out of trouble but trouble comes and kicks you.
Q. You give special attention to the music of your films.
Yes. That has been a constant for us always. Both Hero and Loveyatri had great music. We want that if someone hears our songs even once, they should get hooked to it. So, all the songs in this film are great too. There is a kind of a recall value. “Bumro Bumro” was a hit back then, but now it is sounding even better.
Q. What do you enjoy more, producing or acting?
I enjoy both. But there is more hard work in producing a film. Because when you are a producer, you have to be hands-on. Of course, the monetary part of it and other matters are taken care by the team but looking at the script and music takes up a lot of my energy. Because I am also working, and then I have to look at this also. I also look at the rushes and the edits.
Q. Would you also direct a film at some point?
I wanted to start my career as a director, but that didn’t happen. Thank God for it! I do have a sense for good scrips, but just when you think you know the formula, destiny comes and slaps you. And then we have you guys, one thing goes wrong and you know. You guys flopped my Rs 140 crore film, Tubelight!
Q. You have starred in some good romantic films in your acting career.
Till the time you don’t have a love story, the film will never work. You might have a great story, but I believe it is important to have a great love story in that. In The Notebook, the beauty is that they fall in love with not each other’s looks, but with their hearts.
Q. You have launched several actors. What do you see in the actors that makes you launch them?
I have always believed in one thing. If you give someone a double look, you know there is something special in that person. If you have walked into a place and nobody has noticed you, then forget it.
My father told me, ‘When you enter some place, don’t do anything overtly so that people notice you. Don’t make yourself noticed. Without you trying, people should notice you. There should be some curiosity about you, and when they ask you, they should know that you are my son.’ But that took a good four-five years to happen. So, I started training, body-building, modelling and then people starting noticing me.
So, I look for what I didn’t have as a kid. They make me notice them. That is a good quality to have.
Q. With all the attention you get, does it become overwhelming at any point?
Yes, it something does get overwhelming. There are times when I just don’t want the attention, but I get it anyway. It gets on to me. I have to sacrifice my privacy, but maybe it is a good thing.
Q. Whom would you consider your teacher/mentor?
My father. Actually, more than my father, it is my mother. From my father, I got a scripting sense and all. But it is my mother who taught me that one should be morally correct, ethically correct and principally correct.
Q. With the kind of experience you have in films, do you now pre-empt a movie’s fate?
No, nothing. Like for Tubelight, I did say that we shouldn’t have an Eid release. Because people who step out of their houses on Eid are people who throw some ‘chillar’ and do ‘masti’. They want to really have fun. An Eid release should be a celebratory film. We knew what the script was, and I knew this film should not have released on Eid. But then we also didn’t want to let go of the festive release. People went to celebrate Eid, and came out crying. So, I still think Tubelight should not have released on any festival. It should have had a regular Friday release. Now that people are watching the film on satellite and digital, they love that movie.
Q. You have a larger than life image. Do you think because of that your audiences don’t allow you to experiment with your roles?
Have you ever seen me in an actual courtroom? If I had that larger than life image, I wouldn’t ever need to be in there. So no, I don’t have a larger than life image at all.
Q. There are rumours that you will be making web content.
Web series, but the clean ones. I don’t like the rubbish that is going on. I have been approached to do something on the digital platform, and I have not said no to it. My content is going to be Hum Aapke Hain Koun type of content. I am all for clean content for the web.
Q. Notebook celebrates love – love in Kashmir and love between two people who don’t know each other. But, right now love is something that is far removed from Kashmir.
When we heard about that, it just killed us. This film’s backdrop is exactly the same. The kids come and leave their guns.
Q. Notebook is also about education in Kashmir. How important do you think education is in order to change the circumstances in Kashmir?
Everybody receives education, but it is important to receive the right ‘taleem’ (training). The boy who did this must have also got an education, but maybe his principles were wrong. It is of utmost importance that one gets the right ‘taleem’ along with the right education.