The making of brand 'Salman'
In 2008, Salman was giving interviews for 'Yuvvraaj' and after much chasing, he agreed to spare 10 minutes for a quick chat. But pinning this Khan down is never an easy task. So a wait of more than four hours ensued. There were whispers amongst the waiting journalists that 'bhai' must be very drunk and he needs time and mood to sober up. None the less, we waited for this whimsical star to show up sooner or later.
But then, you cannot be angry with this bad boy of Bollywood for long. When he walked into the room (after some five-hour wait), you cannot help admiring the star who never cared for image building exercises, no matter whether his career soared or dipped. Over the last two decades, not much has changed for the star. He still wears clothes chosen by his two sisters and lives a floor below his parents. He sleeps for three hours a day and is busy with his dogs and gadgets. Last year's back-to-back successes ('Wanted' 'Dabangg' and 'Ready') made him the most bankable star, measured in the language Bollywood understands- box-office hits. Not only that, he now commands more than Rs 5 crore for each of his endorsements and the fourth season of 'Bigg Boss 4' opened with rating of 4.83.
But this pinnacle of glory has come 23 years after he first faced the camera as a lanky second lead in 'Biwi Ho To Aisi', followed by Sooraj Barjatiya's 'Maine Pyaar Kiya' which made him a superstar overnight. After that followed a rollercoaster ride of hits and flops and a string of controversies (Break-up with Aishwarya Rai, hit and run case and black buck shooting case to name a few). But he wasn't just any other actor. He was Salman Khan, whose fans never wrote him off. Infact with each controversy, he got more sympathy and public support. Salman is like boy who never grew up and can do no wrong and if he does, he is forgiven. Even his over-the-top moves have always found takers, whether it is the bikini scene in 'Baaghi', towel dancing in 'Mujhse Shaadi Karogi' or more recent belt holding in 'Ready'
Before Parbhudeva rehashed the southern hit 'Wanted', Salman's stars weren't shining very brightly and most of his films, including Subhash Ghai's 'Yuvvraaj' and 'God Tussi Great Ho' bombed at the box-office. Critics questioned his choice of films but after 'Dabangg', the attitude has changed. After being nominated nine times for Filmfare awards, he finally managed to win the lady for 'Dabangg'. The film managed a clean sweep in all the awards function and re-established him as an action hero and with 'Bodyguard', already being touted as a hit (even before its release), this Khan is getting better with age.
Gone are the days when he would do films for nominal rates. Now he takes a 'nominal fee' to make a film, and asks for a cut from the profits. He has learnt the art of marketing himself well and has even hired a publicist to do the rest.
But somethings never change. A day before 'Ready' released, Khan booked a multiplex for NGO kids who applauded every time the star came on the screen. He already had new fans in them.