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Salman Khan Thinks Phenomena of Superstars Will Never Fade; Says Antim Different Film From Mulshi Pattern

After more than two years, Salman Khan will be back on the big screen with his latest outing ‘Antim: The Final Truth’ which is set to open in cinemas this week. Salman, who made his acting debut three decades ago, has delivered numerous blockbusters in his career over the years. Today, Salman is no longer just an actor or a celebrity; he is a cultural phenomenon.

In this interview, the actor talks about the reason for remaking a Marathi film to ‘Antim,’ how his character of a cop in the upcoming film is different from what he has done before, and also explains why the era of superstars will never end in Bollywood.

The DOP (director of photography) of Dabangg-3 Mahesh Limaye narrated the story to me as he had shot the original film (Mulshi Pattern). I saw the Marathi film much later when I was sitting at my farmhouse. There is a character of a cop in the film and I really liked it. But I realised that they had left his character halfway. I realised that there were two characters (a cop and a gangster) who come from a similar situation and take different paths. I felt that both the characters needed to have equal time. So that is when I decided to make this film from the cop’s point of view.

I realise that I have played a cop several times but I really loved this subject. Initially, I was in two minds whether or not I should do it, but the idea was stuck in my head. And, I was told it was a small role but I refused to accept it. I was working on the script with Mahesh (Manjrekar) and I knew what we were making. We have only picked up the basic plot from the original. The screenplay has been changed and it is a different film altogether. It is lavishly mounted while the original was made on a limited budget.

In many interviews, Mahesh has mentioned that he stripped off your stardom for this film…

Yes, he did that because you couldn’t make this character like Dabangg. If I wanted to do that I would have made Dabangg 4. This character has seriousness which is similar to my character in Garv and he has also got a lot of nobility. He is very Hindustani. He is rugged and not shouting or yelling. He is focused on what he wants to do. He will take orders and get humiliated but will do what he wants to at the right time. He will show his emotions but will also sacrifice someone for the right. In the Marathi film, the cop had only four or five scenes. I didn’t want to remake Mulshi Pattern. As I said, I just took the plot and made a different film.

But the audience likes to see you in larger than life characters…

This too is larger than life, but at the same time, it is realistic. There is action and all the other ingredients but it is just that this character looks best alone so we did not have a heroine with him and the only place where he dances in the film is in Bhai Ka Birthday and that too because he sees his junior officers behind him shaking a leg.

Your fans will miss your iconic moves…

They are there in the film also. They are different. It was different in Dabangg from Kick or Hum Aapke Hai Koun…! was different from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. All the facets of me are decided by the director. In this, the director wanted something like what you have not seen so far. There are many one-liners in the film which are seeti-maar.

Every cop character that you have played in the past is different. How did you decide on doing this character?

I was at the farm. My hair had also grown and so had my beard and we were supposed to shoot the film in Punjab but we couldn’t do it due to the lockdown. I realised that the story could be set in any village in our country. We have so many Sardar cops here in Maharashtra too. So that is how we decided to shoot the film here. Also, there were talks that this was Aayush Sharma’s film. He is there in the film but movie paaji ki he hai (the movie belongs to me).

With theatres opening up and Sooryvanshi doing well, does that give you a lot of confidence?

I was really impressed with the media. It is for the first time in many years that I felt the critics showed some kind of pathos and sensibility and graciousness and didn’t go down on the film. They advised people to go and watch the film in theatres. So, it was really nice. If people don’t go to theatres then how we will write new films.

With the boom of OTT during the lockdown, do you feel the magic of theaters has faded away?

No! I knew theaters would be shut for some time but once vaccinations are done, people would come back and shoots would restart too. I don’t think cinema can take OTT’s place and vice versa. Because it is not the same thing, to watch something at home, one would sit with family and watch it either on TV or laptop, it is no fun to watch anything on phone or iPad, best is to watch on TV, but that also doesn’t match up to theatre screen. Initially, people had said that theaters would stay close for fifteen days or so, but I had said that nothing less than 1.5 to 2 years. Theaters give that family experience. Outside our country, there are a lot of options (for entertainment), but even then we can see the numbers their films make and see the huge amount of theatres they have.

We found many new talents due to the emergence of OTT. Do you think the era of superstars is slowly going away?

I have been hearing this for the last four generations, ‘ki yeh last generation hai (this is the last generation of stars). I don’t think the phenomena of superstars will ever fade. We will go and then somebody else will come up. I don’t think that era of stars will go. It depends on a lot of things, selection of movies, what you are in real life, and more. It’s a whole package of things. This younger generation will have their superstardom. We will not leave it for the younger generation to take it easy. We will not hand it over to them. ‘Mehnat karo bhai, pachas plus mein mehnat kar hi rahe hain, toh aap bhi mehnat karo (work hard, we are working hard at the age of 50+, the younger stars should also work hard).”

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