Swag se swagat

Salman Khan bares it all — Bigg Boss to Bharat, Priyanka Chopra to Katrina Kaif

By Priyanka Roy
  • Published 6.09.18
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Salman Khan dances to his hits at the Bigg Boss Season 12 launch in Goa on Tuesday

Salman Khan had his right leg on top of the arm of the plastic deck chair he was sitting on when t2 walked in to chat with him at the launch of the new season of Bigg Boss — which he’s back to host for the ninth time in a row —  at the picturesque Villa Marina in Nerul, Goa. Dressed in a white ganjee and denims, and sporting a day-old stubble, the 52-year-old superstar looked tired. But the moment he started talking, there was the Salman we knew — ready with a quip, a wink and a smile. We chatted on his return to the Colors reality show (premieres on September 16), the power of TV and why he’s happy that Katrina Kaif — and not Priyanka Chopra — is doing his film Bharat. 

What is it about Bigg Boss that makes you come back season after season? 

Bigg Boss is something that always does well... people love it season after season. It’s a good format... I like it. When it first came to me nine seasons ago after I moved out of Dus Ka Dum, then, honestly, I didn’t want to do it. I was like, ‘Naaa, I don’t want to do it.’

Had you watched the show then? 

I had... I had... in bits and pieces. I watched Shilpa’s (Shetty), Amitji’s (Amitabh Bachchan).... I also watched the season before mine, the one that had Vindu (Dara Singh). When I decided to finally do it, I knew isme jaake mujhe bahut saara energy daalna padega. Ab toh it’s become more than just hosting the show, I have become a part of it. Like for example, I am no longer a wildlife photographer, I have become part of the wildlife! (Laughs) Bigg Boss house toh wildlife hi hai! 
My approach to this show is slightly different from that of the previous hosts. When I lose it on the show, I really lose it. I show my anger. But when the others hosted it, they must have been in trouble because they never showed their anger when a contestant behaved badly. I am sure they took it back home... poor unke gharwaale, they must have taken it out on them! (Laughs) But I have to take it out there only. 

Have you ever regretted hosting the show? 

There was one time when I really lost it. I don’t remember who it was, but some contestant was really rude to Sanju (Sanjay Dutt, who co-hosted Season 5 with Salman). I remember I was in Greece shooting when I watched that episode and I was so angry. I came back and I bajaoed those guys. I saw someone with his legs up on the table... people were walking out of the room when Sanju was talking. That is unpardonable. That was one day when I really wanted to enter the Bigg Boss house and bajao them. 

But do you feel you need to hold back sometimes and not show so much emotion on Bigg Boss?

That’s who I am. There’s no pretence. That’s one show where I have shared so much with the contestants season after season and consequently with the Bigg Boss viewer. I have laid bare the issues I have had with my parents, with the world. Not only Bigg Boss, even on Dus Ka Dum I have narrated episodes of my life that I hadn’t discussed with anyone outside friends and family. But then there are boundaries. I won’t reveal everything. My bedroom is my bedroom, my living room is for the whole world. I will let people into my living room, but bedroom is bedroom, yaar (smiles and winks). 

Nine seasons down, have you met people who have taken some kind of learning about human psychology after watching Bigg Boss? 

Yaaaa! It’s happened to me as well, so many times. I have learnt a lot from the show. There have even been instances where ill-mannered contestants have completely turned around and become better people after the show. Some have even won the show! But what I have figured after so many seasons is that only genuine people win the show. All the jhagre, all the bad-mouthing is okay for TRPs — we will keep you for that on the show till the time it doesn’t go overboard — but people will only vote for genuine contestants. 

You have some huge films coming up, but you’ve chosen to do two TV shows, Bigg Boss and Dus Ka Dum, back to back. Why is that? 

TV is huge, yaar! TV stars are huge, huge, huge. The highest-rated episode of Dus Ka Dum for a very long time was mine and Aamir’s (Khan, aired in July 2008) which was around 3.2 (TVR). Then once these four girls from a TV show came in — I don’t remember the name — and I was shocked to see the ratings of that episode... it was 5.8! 
We talk so much about big blockbusters in films. About 3 crore 40 lakh people watched Bajrangi Bhaijaan and about 3 crore 50 lakh people watched Dangal in the theatres. These are very small figures in a nation of 1.2 billion people. But you tell me how many people watch TV? Crores and crores and crores! Okay, it’s another thing that we don’t have enough cinemas and people have to watch pirated DVDs. I was shooting Bajrangi Bhaijaan in Mandawa in Rajasthan and Dolly Ki Doli (produced by Salman’s brother Arbaaz) had released then. We had to drive two-and-a-half hours to the nearest movie theatre to watch a show. TV is much more accessible. You can now watch TV on your phone also. 

You’ve spoken about how reaching out to people through TV has contributed to a positive image for you... 

For sure! When I started doing the first season of Dus Ka Dum about 10 years ago, I would drive down to my farmhouse every day after shoot. And just after the first episode, people would wave to me on the road and go, ‘Dus Ka Dum, Dus Ka Dum, Dus Ka Dum.’ I was like, ‘Maine Pyar Kiya bhul gaye? Hum Aapke Hain Koun...! bhul gaye? Karan Arjun bhul gaye?’ Pehle toh I felt damn good, then I was like, ‘Arre, mere filmon ka kya hoga?!’ (Laughs) I told this to my dad (Salim Khan) and he said, ‘You should be happy. In films, you play a character; on TV, you are yourself, it’s your personality. They are liking you for the person you are on the show’. He told me to go and show the world, through the TV set, what I am in life... what I am like with my family, my brothers. And people were liking me like that when I was going in and out of jail... so that says a lot (smiles). 

I am digressing here a little bit, but these kinds of things actually help me when there are some malicious people around who are constantly saying, ‘Salman did this... Salman did that.’ My mum (Salma) is so scared about me. Once she saw some cops entering my building and she came rushing out. They told her they had come to investigate some fire there, but she thought I had done something again! (Laughs) 

Biopics are big in Bollywood now... 

Mera biopic kabhi nahin banega (laughs). Mere biopic mein main chhut jaunga... baaki sab andar chale jayenge! 

We have to wait for Bharat till Id next year, but you have Loveratri coming up next month, which launches your brother-in-law Aayush Sharma...

Aayush is a very capable boy, a natural actor. Many years ago, we were starting a film called My Punjabi Nikaah. Sohail (Salman’s youngest brother) was told about this young boy who went to his gym and that he could play the lead. Sohail and he met and spoke for a bit, nothing concrete. Chhay mahiney ke baad pata chala that Arpita has brought this one guy home she wants to marry... and it was Aayush (smiles). Sohail was like, ‘Arre, this is the guy I was looking at for My Punjabi Nikaah!’ I was like, ‘Chalo, achha hai, ab ladka picture free mein karega!’ (Laughs) 

 

When I was told about it (Priyanka Chopra backing out of Bharat), I was like, shaadi ke liye one needs four days to prepare and then four days to get married... she had to shoot with us for 75 days... she could have still done the film.... It was very big-hearted of Katrina (Kaif) to help us out at the last minute. We will always be grateful to her, and to Shah Rukh (Khan) who was kind enough to give us her dates from his film (Zero)

You have been vocal about your displeasure about Priyanka Chopra quitting Bharat at the last minute...

See, Priyanka didn’t want to do the film. She informed us at the last minute and we had no choice but to let her go. Which is very surprising because she had tried very hard to be in Bharat. She called Arpita (Salman’s younger sister) many times and said she wanted to do a role, any role in the film. She called Ali (Abbas Zafar, the film’s director) and asked him to sign her. We signed her because she fit the role. Then she called Ali and said she didn’t want to do it because she was getting married. When I was told about it, I was like, shaadi ke liye one needs four days to prepare and then four days to get married... she had to shoot with us for 75 days... she could have still done the film. I don’t know... (shakes his head). Maybe she didn’t want to do a film with me (smiles). Maybe she doesn’t want to work in my industry... maybe she only wants to work in Hollywood.

Now it seems things are on schedule with Katrina Kaif on board... 

It was very big-hearted of Katrina to help us out at the last minute. We will always be grateful to her, and to Shah Rukh (Khan) who was kind enough to give us her dates from his film (Zero). They are both people I really owe a lot to. In fact, we should have signed Katrina in the first place. Both Atul (Agnihotri) and Baby (Salman’s sister Alvira who is 
co-producing Bharat with husband Atul) always wanted Katrina in Bharat. And you should just see the kind of good work Katrina has done in the schedule we just shot in Malta... her Hindi is so good now. 

Highlights of the #BB12 launch 

TV comedienne Bharti Singh and her writer husband Haarsh Limbachiyaa will be inside the Bigg Boss house

♦ Salman Khan’s swag se swagat. Wearing his trademark white ganjee, he cruised in on a speedboat to the venue of the meet at Villa Marina in Goa’s Nerul. Jumping off the boat, he made his way to the stage where he danced to a medley of his biggest hits like Jumme ki raat, Heeriye, Jeene ke hain chaar din and Allah duhai. 

♦ The format of Season 12 will be the coming together of “vichitra jodis” as Salman put it, indicating that the pairs will be a mix of celebrity and commoner contestants like previous years. However, in a significant departure from the 11 seasons so far where the names of the contestants were kept under wraps till the time they walked into the house, Salman introduced one celebrity jodi that will go into the Bigg Boss house in Lonavala on September 16 — TV comedienne Bharti Singh and her writer husband Haarsh Limbachiyaa. 

The other celebrity names doing the rounds for #BB12: TV couple Dipika Kakar and Shoaib Ibrahim, Splitsvilla contestant Subihi Joshi and small-screen star Shaleen Bhanot. 

♦ It may have been a stuffy afternoon, but Salman kept things light and easy with his deadpan humour at the launch.

Like when Bharti told him she’s scared of weekends in the Bigg Boss house when he takes off his coat and starts scolding the contestants, Salman shot back: “Main coat utaarta hoon kyunki mujhe kapde bardaasth nahin hote.” Or when asked about returning to Bigg Boss for the ninth time in a row, he dimpled: “My longest relationship — any relationship — has been with Bigg Boss. I think I will get married to Bigg Boss. Sirf voice hi ko jhelna padega!” 

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