New Delhi: Though Ranbir Kapoor is playing the lead in 'Besharam' but the tagline of the film suits Salman Khan more. The tagline 'Na samman ka moh, na apmaan ka bhay' (No lust for respect, no fear of disrespect) aptly describes Salman Khan's unapologetic lifestyle and his choice of films. Interestingly, the director of 'Besharam' Abhinav Kashyap debuted in Bollywood with Salman Khan's 'Dabangg' (2010).
Filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma tweeted, "I think Salman Khan's films are nothing but critics' worst nightmares coming true." RGV wasn't just blabbering as this tweet holds some meaning. 'Wanted' (2009) started a new era for Salman Khan but what he achieved in 2012 was unthinkable before this year. 'Dabangg', 'Ready' and 'Bodyguard' entered the much hyped Rs 100 crore club easily but the business slowed down after it, but 'Ek Tha Tiger' continued to do well at the box office for more than six weeks. How many times do we see a film holding the audience's interest for more than six weeks these days? And, all this happened when the film received mixed, mainly average, reviews from the critics.
Ajay Devgn roped in Salman for his battle against Yash Raj Films' 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan' and won the tussle successfully. Salman might not be directly responsible for the film's success but his presence made the song 'Po Po' noticeable.
No producer was ready to release his film with 'Dabangg 2', which was 2012's last big release. Not only this, the exhibitors were ready to collaborate with the makers of 'Dabangg 2' on the latter's terms, something that doesn't happen quite often in Bollywood. Currently, the film is minting money and is likely to maintain the momentum for some more weeks. In that case, 'Dabangg 2' will be a strong contender to cross the Rs 200 crore mark.
The actor not only knows his niche audience base but also knows how to satiate their needs. Be it some lyricist writing, 'Apni aan apni shaan, sabka ek bhaijaan' or the director keeping him on screen in almost every frame, everything is a conscious decision to encash the brand value of Salman which has touched a new height in 2012.
The cultivation of a new image was in process since 4-5 years and now it is providing fruits. The accolades received from fellow actors are a part of this branding. People take it on face value when Preity Zinta openly praises Salman for his help in 'Ishkq In Paris' or when Ajay Devgn tweets, "Just saw Dabangg 2...Pandeyji humne bhi kya seeti bajayee aap ke liye!" The spectators probably realise that Salman had also congratulated Ajay Devgn for his physique in 'Singham' but couldn't restrict themselves from falling for the guy for the huge amount of admiration he receives among his fellow actors.
There was a time when the Khan trinity was led by Shah Rukh Khan but last two years have made Salman Khan the undisputed king of Bollywood. Every film is increasing his lead over the others, which Salman celebrates with more colourful statements in media. The recent was when he said that he will marry after the Jodhpur and Mumbai courts' verdicts, isn't it obvious what he meant!
His dance steps defy norms, pelvic thrusts are weird and laughing is simply strange but nobody is ready to give a second thought about these things till the time Sallu Bhai is looking at the kid.
He was always known for his fitness and love for a chiselled body but lately he has put on some weight. The climax of 'Dabangg 2' appeared peculiar when a shirtless Salman was technologically assisted to look slimmer and fitter, but the packed house greeted the moment with great enthusiasm. This shows how things are working in his favour because it was his toned body which paved his way to superstardom, remember the hysteria around 'O o jane jana'.
He came a bit closer to media and opened a lot about his past this year. He frankly chatted about his love relationships in one of his TV interviews where he also joked about his jail days. This is a new Salman Khan who is probably trying to be at peace with his history. His acting is the least talked about point of his persona but he handles intensely romantic scenes in a better way. Those who have seen 'Ek Tha Tiger' would realise how honest was he in the star-gazing scene, emotions were just floating on his face.
The bad boy image is diluting, mainly because Salman has not remained a boy anymore, but the process is very slow and his single status compels the audiences to take him as a wayward child. Charity works confuses the viewers further and the wayward child becomes a misunderstood one. The ghosts of his past have still not left him and he is bound to deal with them in future as well but the way he is opening up now gives Salman the strength to dictate the terms.
There are more similarities than differences between Chulbul Pandey and Salman Khan. Both are self-styled Robin Hoods in their territories and are creating space for new discourses. One of RGV's tweets can sum up the situation, "I think Salman khan smashed the auteur theory forever by proving that a director is irrelevant to the success of a film."
On his 47th birthday, we wish him all the success and happiness. Pandey Jee, aaj toh zaroor swagat karenge aapka!