Kabir Khan's Bajrangi Bhaijaan is a very warm story about human relationships set against a larger-than-life background. With two superstars Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan, a great actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui and a debut of the most gorgeous little girl, it looks all set to be this Eid's big entertainer. Post the trailer launch, Salman and Kareena spoke exclusively to the Bombay Times. Excerpts:
Conversation with Salman Khan:
The character you play in Bajrangi Bhaijaan seems to be very close to what you are in your real life.
When I heard this script for the first time, I felt greedy that this script should not go to anybody else. It's such a beautiful story and I don't think anyone could have told this story better than Kabir and me. It's a simple story about human relationships against a larger-than-life backdrop. It's happened to me for the first time that even when I was shooting this film, every time there was an emotional scene, tears would automatically roll down my cheeks without any effort. My character in Bajrangi Bhaijaan is what my parents have taught me to be, a simple person.
You have chosen to make this the first film that you have produced. Talk about the message you want to give through the film?
It's such a positive film. If there is anyone who wants to see peace in both our countries (India and Pakistan), and wants to see the positive side of us and them, and wants to finish the animosity between the two countries, they should watch this film. Bajrangi Bhaijaan's character goes to drop a Pakistani child, who cannot even speak, who is without a visa or a passport, back to her parents in her country and I think that is the noblest thought. There are so many films that are made and take advantage of this void between our nations. Their people come and play cricket here, their singers are appreciated here, our movies are watched there. The problem is not with the people. You would rather be at peace with your neighbouring nation as against being at war. They lose people from their side, we lose people from our side. But when a person is dead, be it from here or there, when the bullet is fired, it goes straight to the mother's heart. It destroys the whole family. We need to make films for the betterment of society and we were lucked out that we hit upon this beautiful story. People from here and there have so much respect for each other. And this whole thing about being Hindu versus Muslim animosity, I don't see it. I don't see it when my film releases, I don't see it when I travel from place to place as we are loved universally. This is what I have grown up on. My mother is Hindu, my father is Muslim, Helen aunty is Catholic, Alvira, Sohail and now, Arpita are married to Hindus. So, even saying Hindu-Muslim doesn't sound good to us. But how do you address that? The love that I am bestowed upon by my fans, I don't see any religion there, I don't see any mass, class or creed there. I just get love. And the love that I get is what I want to give forward.
Have you ever been to Pakistan?
I have been there only once when I was 15 years old as my dad's older sister had moved there with her family.
You normally like to shoot in Mumbai or at most, in close-by places likes Panvel or Karjat. This time you have travelled all across India.
Kabir likes to shoot all over the world. He used to be a documentary filmmaker and is thus very fond of travelling. In my last film Ek Tha Tiger, he had made me go around the world. Now in this film, to keep it real, we could not go out of India, but he ensured that he showed me the entire nation, that too the innards of our country, but it was such a beautiful experience. Ek to mera cardio achcha ho jaata tha and also, I have now come to understand that we should shoot in our beautiful country only. Why do we shoot abroad? If the film becomes a hit, then everybody will go to see those locations in which we shot and and that will lead to the increase in our tourism.
Talk about working with Kareena?
She is boring but I like boring. She is wonderful and for me she has always been Lolo's (Karisma Kapoor) younger sister and now I see her as a young woman. It's amazing to work with her. She is not complicated at all, is very confident about her work and is fun to be with. You can be yourself with her. Of course, I also have this advantage with her as I have known her since she was nine, so we are both comfortable with each other. We needed an actress who had the maturity and talent to look like a teacher and look convincingly secular.
Between Karisma and Kareena who are you closer to?
As far as fondness is there, it has always been Lolo.
Have you ever been friends with Saif Ali Khan?
We have worked together and we have hung out together, but I don't know Saif very well. He is not a friend, he is an acquaintance. He is a thorough gentleman, very respectful, is a very decent guy and Bebo is very happy with him.
Conversation with Kareena Kapoor Khan:
You have known Salman since you were nine. Did you ever imagine that you would be his heroine?
Lolo and him were shooting a film called Jaagruti. I was nine. He was shooting with Lolo and had just packed up and come back from the shoot when I first saw him in the corridor of the hotel. I was in my night pyjamas and even though I was shy of him, but still managed to tell him, 'Listen, one day I am going to work with you and I am going to be a big superstar.' From 9 then to 34 today, it's just been a wonderful journey of knowing the Khan family and they supporting my sister first and now me.
What is Salman like?
Salman is the only superstar in this nation who is unfazed by his success or failure. And that is what makes him the biggest superstar. Actually even Saif and me are quite like that as we also don't take our success and failures seriously. Salman's superstardom is beyond Bollywood today. He was always meant to be the biggest superstar, there was never two ways about it. Of course, he has a dashing smile that is unbeatable and I feel that is what pulls his fans to him. He has this smile that can make you cry and your heart can melt. I don't think he has changed from when I was nine, only his muscles have grown bigger. I feel that he just does not have a bad bone in him.
How different are Saif and Salman?
They are similar in the way they live their life. Their heart is of gold and they don't ever think before helping their family or friend or near and dear ones. Saif is a lot more English. He has had a very different life altogether.
Has Saif changed over time?
I feel that I have grounded Saif a lot more. He has got a lot more responsible when it comes to his wife, his home and his children. I feel a man in his forties is just unbelievable compared to a man in his thirties. There is a dramatic change. They have a much bigger sense of belonging. Also, they are just so much more attractive. I love the little lines on their faces. It just shows their experience that I find very sexy.
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