Salman Khan, 48, is not just a superstar but also a super human being. He may not know what he has done to be loved so much, but one thing he does know is that he is not here just to be a superstar to make shitloads of money for his family and friends. He realises his responsibility of delivering entertainment to his fans and is working extremely hard for it, despite his health. While he would be happy if Jai Ho breaks existing records, what will make him truly happy is if each human starts giving to three others. In an hour-long conversation, eating his simple fish and rice, he talks to TOI about his dad who is his hero, instances in his life that made him human and how he gives, because he is selfish. Excerpts:
Salim sahab considers you a fakir. Any number of people I meet tell me stories about your generosity. How did you become the human being you are?
There are some childhood memories that stick with you. As a kid, I would get air filled in my cycle in Bandra. I got it filled several times, but did not pay for it till one day when I went 10 years later again on my cycle asking for air. He recognised me and said, “Tumhara 6 rupaiya banta hai.’ I had become Salman Khan by that time, but he did not know who I was as he was so into his job. By that time, he was charging 2 to fill the air and he said, now you have to give me 8. I said, ‘Haan, deta hoon.‘ But he said, ‘Nahi, cycle chodh jao.’ People started gathering and it did not even strike him then why people were stopping to see me. I asked one guy on the street, ‘100dena zara.‘ The guy on the street gave me 100 in a second and I gave it to air chacha saying, ‘Aaprakho chacha.’ He said ‘nahi’ and promptly returned me 92. That was the first time I learnt my biggest lesson in life that if you have the love, you will always have people to give you the money. I was shooting for a motorcycle commercial at the age of 16, when I realised that I had left an expensive watch in my room at a five-star hotel. I went back after six hours and asked the receptionist. She checked who was on duty at that point and immediately said with conviction, ‘Chacha is there on duty today, your watch cannot go anywhere.’ I knew from the way she had said that my watch was safe. That’s the reputation I want for myself which a guy working in a bathroom of a hotel had made where you knew that if he was on duty, your stuff was safe. I want to be like him who people can blindly trust and believe in. I gave chacha 100 and he said, ‘Nahi beta, aap enjoy karo.’ That is character. There is one dialogue of my father ki, ‘Gopal iss duniya mein lene ke liye nahi, dene ke liye aaya hai.’ That got stuck in me. When I was young, I went to buy stuff from Sunil Shetty’s shop Mischief, but was short of funds for what I wanted to buy. He is a smart guy and he understood. He took me to his house and gave me these boots with spurs and some shirts and I felt that if I would be a star I would also do this. I don’t know what I am doing to deserve the love I am getting. But if I can’t make a difference then it is a waste of my life. I am not born to just become an actor and die with shitloads of property or money for my family and friends. I want to do something that will be remembered for centuries. I have the Being Human charitable trust and don’t know where I am heading, but I know that I am heading somewhere. It’s easier said than done, but people don’t help others.
Arbaaz and I used to share a room when we were kids. We stayed next to the sea and there were so many times when we have both taken out bodies from the sea and taken them to the hospital. In the middle of the night, we have gone from one party to another and picked up bodies from the road and deposited them at hospitals before going to our second party. When I was young, we were once three friends on a bike when the bike skid and fell on the highway. So many people zipped past us, but nobody stopped to help. I still remember that feeling of helplessness we had at the time we were lying on the road. One day I was passing by Prabhadevi and I saw a crowd as there was an accident but nobody was willing to pick up the people who were hurt. I also passed by and then thought if the person hurt had been my family or my friend, I would never have forgiven myself. So I helped them and it came from a fear of what if I knew that person. Then this thought was put in my head after seeing one of Mr Asrani’s films where he steals cars by putting nails on the road and in one such incident, his mother dies due to her car’s tyre being punctured while being taken to a hospital. I have been impacted in my personal life seeing films and so wanted to make a film that would impact people’s lives.
Who is your real life hero?
My dad. I am not that typical good guy. I want to drive my car, go to my party, have a good time and don’t want to apologise for my position. I don’t want to spend shitloads of money to create an aura that I am a humble man. But I want to be like trusted like that hotel wala chacha. My dad is 80 years old but even today he sits outside our house everyday and signs cheques worth 6.5 to 8 lakhs to give away to the needy. He is a very straight man. He is very knowledgeable. My whole problem with my father while growing up was, why was he so right when I was so wrong. I always wanted to prove him wrong even though I always knew he was right, till one day when I decided that I just would go by him. Even if he was wrong 49 times, I knew he would be right 51 times.