Since the release of Wanted in 2009, Eid has become synonymous with Salman Khan. After a streak of blockbusters during the festive season, the superstar gears up for his riskiest Eid release till date, Tubelight. The film will see Salman Khan shedding his larger than life onscreen image as he essays a character who is slow to record the happenings around him exhibits child-like characteristics. Ahead of the film release, Khan got candid in a group interview about the film, Box Office numbers, equation with his brothers and more.
What made you sign up for Tubelight?
It is very difficult to play a character like this. There is a certain way this character walks, and talks. When I was growing up, I had some shades of this character, but that was quite a while back. When I was narrated Tubelight, I could have easily said this is a beautiful script but I want to do something like Dabangg. There is something in my heart for this character which made me sign the film. While acting, there was always an attempt from my side to not overdo it. These characters are very difficult because you might start looking like a fraud. In a comic film, looking like a fraud is okay, but in an emotional film like Tubelight, it is the most difficult thing to do.
Is there a romantic sub-track in Tubelight?
The plot of the film revolves around two brothers and what happens when a brother goes to a war and his elder brother cannot accompany him. There are several other sub-plots in the film including a love story and relationship with a small kid. But the film is essentially, a story of two brothers.
What sort of bond do you share with Sohail Khan?
Sohail and I have made the costliest home video till date (hinting at Hello Brother). As an elder brother, I have only used them. Whenever I feel no actor would be willing to take up a character, I get them on board (laughs). On a serious note, this film would not have been possible without Sohail. At some point in time, these guys were looking to cast somebody bigger so that we get those numbers or crack a particular number. There were talks to rope in this big actor so that we would get this number and I said, ‘what is cracking this number bhai? I need to be comfortable with the person who is paired alongside me and I don’t want to crack the number.’ They wanted to sell the film at a particular amount, and I said, ‘I don’t want to see the film at any number, I just want it to be a good film.’ Breaking the records of course matters to me, but not at the cost of quality of the film. A film does well if it is destined to do well. I think the makers of Baahubali would still be recovering from the shock (hinting at record-breaking run at the Box Office).
How confident do you feel ahead of Tubelight?
You can’t say anything till the time film releases. The collections will be amazing on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as the die-hard fans go to watch the film over the weekend but the acceptance of content over the weekend is the key factor for the film to succeed in the long run. The collections on the weekdays would give you an idea about the eventual lifetime business of a film. I don’t get the math of film prediction at all because there are so many factors that contribute towards the film’s success.
1. We hike the ticket rates to satisfy our ego
We had cut down the prices for Jai Ho and we didn’t tell anyone that we are doing it. So when tickets are usually sold at Rs 650, our tickets were sold for Rs 250. When we checked the collections next day, we didn’t know what is happening as we had expected the film to do much better. Everyone started calling it a flop, but later on, we realised that the collections are low because of low ticket rates. My intent was to reach to the collection of more than Rs 200 crore at the Box Office at subsidised rates. It is pointless to earn Rs 200 crore at high ticket rates. We hike the ticket rates for satisfying our egos and I don’t think that is cool.
2. Film’s don’t do well because audience don’t watch it in theatres
I have got calls from people saying that ‘I watched the movie on television. Why didn’t it do well? It is such an amazing film and the only response to that is ‘dude, it didn’t do well because you didn’t go to the theatre to watch the film. You are seeing it for free right now. You didn’t want to spend X amount of money on the film because the promos didn’t excite you. There might have been some other film which had a better promo and it is difficult to watch two films in the same month. So you went to watch the other film’. When you see something on television, you like it because it’s for free.
You have been around for 28 years, do you still feel nervous ahead of a film release?
I feel nervous for different reasons. Whenever you do a film, you put in a lot of hard work but for me, the hard work is okay, the problem lies somewhere else. You sign a film because you think that it is a sure shot hit and if the film turns out to be a disaster, it means your thinking has gone all off. One off thinking makes you start thinking about the other films that you have signed. If your streak of failure continues for a while, apart from getting destroyed in your career, a lot of people begin to lose money. You are taking everybody down with you. All the fans, who have trusted in you, come out disappointed. I fear that disappointment. It is the worst thing that can ever happen.
How important are Box Office Collections for you?
Filmmaking is a business and it should never be okay to lose money. This is our work, profession, and business. So if one film does not work, we work hard to ensure that the next one does.
How seriously do you take your stardom?
Whatever goes up, comes down. The thing right now is to see how long can one hold onto this position or even go higher. You are going to go down, but all of us (Senior Actors) are going to make sure that…. the younger generation work hard to get their bread and butter…. (laughs)
Is your next film with Remo D’Souza titled ABCD 3?
I am not doing ABCD 3. It is a Disney property and this one is produced by me under my banner, SKF. It is a dance film, but all dance films are not ABCD. Is Lala Land, ABCD? (Laughs)
Directed by Kabir Khan, Tubelight releases this Eid.
Himesh Mankad is a freelance film journalist based out of Mumbai. He can be reached at @himeshmankad