The remark that a veteran film-maker and writer made years ago, “Salman Khan is the only true artist in a world of businessmen”, continues to ring in my ears. Despite his mega-star status, Khan has selflessly given back so much to the industry.
But this one-man army not only discovers or mentors new talent; he also helps those he feels deserve a push. His No Entry co-star Esha Deol, for example, was being relaunched by her mother, Hema Malini, with Tell Me O Kkhuda.
A grateful Malini recalls: “Salman called and asked me if I needed any help, and so I took him on for a promo song with Esha.”
The number of people Salman has helped is legion: a parade of artists, film-makers, technicians and more. Even if his unlimited cameos did him no good, he obliged everyone from Dev Anand (Love At Times Square) and Ketan Desai (Deewana Mastana) to a Saawan Kumar in Saawan – The Love Season.
Khan thinks nothing of spending extra hours working (usually without remuneration) for people he loves, admires, respects or thinks deserve a helping hand.
When Preity Zinta helped out with a special cameo in his brother’s film, Main Aur Mrs Khanna, Khan reciprocated instantly with a cameo in her maiden production, Ishqk In Paris.
An army of not-so-successful names were in the supporting cast of Khan’s latest home production, Jai Ho, including Nauheed Cyrusi, Genelia D’Souza Deshmukh, Vatsal Sheth, Ashmit Patel, Vikas Bhalla and Tulip Joshi.
Khan has announced that the remarkable Marathi film on Down syndrome, Yellow, is being remade in Hindi and that he will be a co-producer. This is another generous gesture – actor Riteish Deshmukh, who produced the original, is a personal friend.
Khan has obviously also done a lot for his clan – Arbaaz Khan and Malaika Arora Khan (producers of Dabangg), Sohail Khan (writer-director of Auzaar in 1997, and co-producer of Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya in 1998 and Ready in 2011), and his sister, Alvira, and her husband Atul Agnihotri (producer, Bodyguard).
Let us look also at his long list of debut-making heroines since stardom found him: Naghma (Baaghi), Raveena Tandon (Patthar Ke Phool), Kanchan and Chandni (Sanam Bewafa), South actresses Revathi (Love) and Bhumika Chawla (Tere Naam), Namrata Shirodkar (Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota Hai), Sneha Ullal (Lucky – No Time For Love), Zarine Khan (Veer) and Daisy Shah (Jai Ho), besides two of the big names in recent times, Sonam Kapoor (romantically cast opposite him rather than the debut-making co-star Ranbir Kapoor in Saawariya) and Sonakshi Sinha (Dabangg).
Khan has also backed new directors since he achieved star status, and the illustrious list includes Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Khamoshi, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam), Prabhudheva (Wanted), Radhika Rao and Vinay Sapru (Lucky – No Time For Love), and smaller names.
Added to this, Khan introduced two composers who have become leading names – Himesh Reshammiya and Sajid-Wajid.
Of late, he has mentored Daboo Malik’s son, Amal Malik, who composed songs for Jai Ho and who is writing the background score for the small but high-concept film Khwaabb, a story about sport produced by Arjuna Award-winner Moraad Ali Khan.
Few people are aware that it was Khan who guided Hrithik Roshan in many ways; including giving him tips on improving his physique for his debut in Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai.
Sonakshi Sinha, a qualified designer with a plump figure, was advised by Khan to become an actress. He took it upon himself to groom her into one, giving her tips on diet and exercise. Possibly this was his way of showing his love for Sinha’s father, Shatrughan, one of his favourite people and a close friend of his screenwriter and actor father.
Arjun Kapoor once said, “I was not even thinking of becoming an actor when Salman-bhai told me to become one!
“Salman-bhai is my father figure, and I am keen that he remains happy with my work... I am an actor today thanks to him…
“I won’t even say that he awakened the dormant actor within me, because I did not even know there was one.”
Of course, Salman had also bailed out Arjun Kapoor’s father and producer, Boney, after the flops No Entry and Wanted, giving him two of his biggest hits.
Salman Khan is a one-man army that continues to enrich the industry. – bollywoodhungama.com