Importance of being Salman

Proloy Bagchi
Recently the media was awash with the news of Salman Khan, the action hero of Bollywood. He celebrated the 51st birthday and, curiously, it was quite widely reported, much more than of any other star. Though not known for proficiency, he is immensely popular for limited number of films he features in every year. One of the three Khans of the Hindi movie scene, he leaves the other two, Shahrukh Khan and Amir Khan, miles behind.
Though the latter two are actors of substance they somehow don’t click with the masses in the way Salman does. While Shahrukh does romantic movies, Amir produces and acts in films that have a social message. Salman’s movies, on the other hand, are different– he is not only an action hero, his dance moves are also raved about by the masses, mostly belonging to underclasses. Curiously, the two more Khans in the industry – Irrfan Khan and Saif Ali Khan – are not considered good enough to come anywhere near the Khan triumvirate who seem to be peerless; so much so that unless a new-comer female actress has done at least one movie with each one of them, she wouldn’t be reckoned to have come of age in Bollywood.
Salman’s appeal among the under-classes, called “tapories” in Mumbai colloquial, is unquestionable and they are the movie-goers in largest numbers keeping the cash registers of the movie halls ringing. His last movie Sultan – a story of a wrestler – is reported to have broken all box-office records. It did business of a phenomenal Rs 300 crores (approximately $50 million) when the film cost only Rs 90 crore ($1.4 million-odd). His pickings per annum are probably highest among professionals. As recently reported, his annual income in 2016 was Rs. 270 crores (around $42 million), way above all his peers, including the other two Khans of the triumvirate and even that old thespian Amitabh Bacchhan with perhaps the longest run in Hindi films.
Riding on mass popularity and having acted in box office hits, his personal life, particularly the sordid and disreputable part naturally got exposed to the people and the media. His relationships with actresses are legendary. From Somy Ali, Sangeeta Bijlani to Aishwarya Rai, all have had relationships with him. With Aishwarya Rai, of course, it was more passionate, one which lasted for three-four years before Salman himself reported to have spoilt it.
But then he moved on and fell for another young beauty Katrina Kaif, who probably was helped by Salman in the tricky ways of Bollywood. The relationship, however, did not last; probably the age difference came in the way. Salman is now reported to be courting a Rumanian model. Apparently he cannot survive without female companionship. Beefy with a handsome visage and great financial success in films, ambitious women naturally throw themselves at him. At 51 he, after all, is still the most eligible bachelor in the industry.
Regardless of his turbulent love-life he has been a great success in his profession. His films have earned him money and fame worldwide. The Indian Diaspora in all the continents — whether in the US, Canada or the Caribbean or the UK or Africa or Australia and New Zealand – lap up his films irrespective of their being good, bad or indifferent. He, reportedly, has now stopped asking for fees for his films. Instead, he takes a cut from the profits – which he believes are assured.
As somebody has said every life is a pile of good things and bad, Salman too has a pretty bright streak of goodness in him. Despite all his maneuvers, sometimes more unethical than ethical, to get out of the inconvenient situations he is considered by many to be a good and compassionate human being. He contributes to charities and runs a non-governmental organisation by the name “Being Human” which sells T shirts and other merchandise, proceeds of which are given away for welfare of the under-privileged and the dispossessed. He had once offered to pay around Rs. 4 million (about $60000) for prisoners who had no money to foot the legal fees for release from several jails in UP.
Launching his own film production unit he decided to donate all the proceeds of the films to “Being Human” which, as usual, was supposed to be distributed among the under-privileged and the needy. “Chillar Party”, a children’s film that was highly successful was produced by him and the proceeds went to “Being Human”.
While his films are big successes owing to his popularity among the under-privileged, he doesn’t just take away their money; he also gives them back by way of his charities quite selflessly. Quite surprisingly his charitable works are not very well known among the people and that is perhaps why the stuck up of the upper crust somehow cannot put up with him. To that extent, regardless of his flamboyance he is apparently somewhat shy of publicity. (INFA)