Ahead of a conversation with Bollywood superstar Salman Khan about his Eid Al Fitr release Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai, we are given a long list of riders that would be the envy of even the most temperamental Hollywood diva on an international tour. But surprisingly when we finally sit down to talk to the actor in a strictly audio-only Zoom interview on Tuesday, he is as slick and easy-going as his on screen persona. Even the trademark swagger is not impacted by the medium as he refers sardonically to his signature dance moves and his ‘reluctant real life lover’ persona.
Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai helmed by Khan’s go-to-director Prabhu Deva (Wanted, Dabangg 3) has had a long and arduous trek to the theatres.
Originally meant to release in 2020, the movie was pushed back due to the then Covid crisis and even now it drops while India is faced with a a wild surge in cases that has seen many cities in lockdowns and most theatres shut.
But as Salman’s infamous dialogue from Wanted goes - Ek Baar Jo Main Ne Commitment Kar Di Uske Baad Main Khud Ki Bhi Nahin Sunta.
In fact during a recent media interaction, the actor went as far as to say the action-entertainer might have a zero collection at the box-office in India but fans can still enjoy the movie from the safety of their homes, on pay-per-view platforms.
‘People want some entertainment’
The actor admits it was hard to take the call to release Radhe at this time because “we don’t know if this is the right thing to do or the wrong thing. People are suffering right now, financially and emotionally. People are losing their lives and there are other people who want to get out of this and get some entertainment.
“But from the feedback I’m getting from the songs etc., people do need to get motivated and they do need a change in scenario. Since in India we are only releasing on streaming platforms, they can be safe at home, and watch the film with their friends and families. Whenever this dies down and theatres open up, we will release Radhe in theatres (in India).”
‘I don’t believe in holidays’
Salman has had a busy year so far. In 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, he did a live charity show, Chhoti Si Asha (a fundraiser for disadvantaged kids), launched a deodorant and even released a song.
“I like working. I didn’t know where my life was going before Maine Pyar Kiya. I used to pray that I get work and it’s not cool that I have asked for this and now don’t respect that. I want to work every single day. I don’t believe in taking holidays. Even if I do, it is only during Christmas — December 25 to January 5 with my family.”
’It’s not our job to get somebody a job’
Radhe is produced by Salman alongside Sohail Khan and Atul Agnihotri and stars Disha Patani, Jackie Shroff and Randeep Hooda in prominent roles. It also has a song sung by Salman’s close friend Iulia Vantur and a special dance number by Jacqueline Fernandez.
But when we ask if surrounding himself with loved ones makes the process of filmmaking that much easier, he is quick to say no.
“Jackie is a talented actress and a superb dancer; she happens to be a dear friend of mine. And she agreed to do this dance for me. It was really gracious of her to do this for me. She a big heroine and she’s coming in a guest appearance in a song. I really appreciate that gesture.
“As far as Iulia is concerned I didn’t eve know that she was singing that song (Seeti Maar). When you take people to do a job, you trust that they are the best at their job. Sajid-Wajid chose her voice and I got to know much later. It’s not our job to get somebody into a job — that’s not something I do.”
Move like Salman Khan
He might not be the best dancer around on the big screen, but there’s no doubting he manages to look like he’s having maximum fun on the dance floor. And that’s a unique talent Salman has mastered over the years.
He just needs to shrug his collars or flex his belt and voila, it becomes the next crazy dance move.
Does he enjoy dancing though in real life? “No, I seriously don’t enjoy dancing, that’s the reason for these moves (all delivered in his trademark deadpan voice) If you’ve noticed, I’ve started dancing a little more in each and every song nowadays.
"All these dance moves I’ve done, I’ve seen somebody doing it at some party, some wedding, so I incorporate that. If I see somebody doing something and I really like it I put it in the movie.
“A lot of people really do dance very well — you see these impressive dances on social media. But 99 per cent of the population cannot dance and they can’t copy that. So for the senior citizens and the young children who can barely walk—- even those kids can do my steps so I keep a little bit for them and a little bit for the average dancers. For the special dancers you have Hrithik Roshan and Shahid Kapoor and Tiger Shroff…”
Prabhu Deva: Third time lucky?
Salman and Prabhu Deva have enjoyed a long association. The South Indian actor who started off as a choreographer in the film industry, before turning director and producer has helmed two of the superstar’s previous blockbusters Wanted and Dabangg 3. Radhe follows the same larger-than-life action-thriller-comedy format the duo is known to deliver.
But quiz him on which role he prefers Prabhu Deva in and Salman is quick with his reply: “He’s a fantastic dancer, the best we have, but I still prefer him as a director.” Khan is also all praise for the rest of the cast and crew. “Jackie Shroff is outstanding in the film. Randeep Hooda and Gautam Gulati are fantastic as well.”
As a parting shot the actor comments that he’s probably the first of his ilk to have a simultaneous release in theatres as well as the streaming platforms. And he seems pretty confident that he will release his wholesome entertainer for his fans in India on the big screen soon. Because in the end, “Radhe is a film for theatres.”