x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Salman Khan the big, bad boy of Bollywood

A day before Salman Khan goes on trial for homicide and negligent driving, we break down the decade-old hit-and-run case - and the actor in the centre of it all.

Salman Khan is also one of Hindi cinema's best-loved stars; puzzling, considering that, in his two-decade career, he has made the headlines more for his infamous off-screen antics than for his films. AFP
Salman Khan is also one of Hindi cinema's best-loved stars; puzzling, considering that, in his two-decade career, he has made the headlines more for his infamous off-screen antics than for his films. AFP

Whether as a scrawny, bug-eyed lover boy or a larger-than-life action hero, Salman Khan's box-office glory is the envy of most of his contemporaries.

Salman Khan is also one of Hindi cinema's best-loved stars; puzzling, considering that, in his two-decade career, he has made the headlines more for his infamous off-screen antics than for his films.

Abdul Rashid Salim Salman Khan was born on December 27, 1965, into a family with strong Bollywood links: his father, Salim Khan, is one of Hindi cinema's best-known scriptwriters, who, along with Javed Akhtar, was behind action dramas such as Sholay, Deewar (both 1975) and Don (1978), all runaway hits.

Salman Khan, who has four siblings, including an adopted sister, has often spoken out about their troubled childhood and their father's second marriage in 1981 to the Bollywood actress and dancer Helen: "It was very difficult in the beginning, when everybody was talking about it. My mother just couldn't take it. It hurt her terribly … When she cried, we used to cry with her."

His big Bollywood break came in 1989 with Sooraj Barjatya's Maine Pyar Kiya. The film was a hit, but an even bigger success was Khan's wardrobe (a cap emblazoned with the word "Friend" and Tom Cruise's Top Gun-style jacket); and dialogues ("Friendship mein no sorry, no thank you" [friends shouldn't have to say sorry or thank you]); and floppy hairstyle. Overnight, every teenage boy in the country wanted their hair cut like Khan's; girls proclaimed him to be their biggest crush.

By the early 1990s, Khan was comfortably established as an A-list star, rivalled only by Aamir Khan, who had made his debut in 1989 with the blockbuster tragedy Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, and, of course, Shah Rukh Khan, who burst on the scene in 1992 with the thriller Deewana.

But Sallu bhai, as he is popularly known, managed to stay buoyant despite the tough competition, carving out a niche for himself in the 1990s with movies that established him as the go-to romantic actor.

But by then, the nickname "Bad Boy of Bollywood" had begun to stick to him like a burr: he was arrested in 1998 for hunting endangered deer. He was also criticised for his "controlling behaviour" towards Aishwarya Rai, his co-star and girlfriend at the time.

But worse was to come: in 2002, Khan had an accident while driving under the influence of alcohol - one person was killed and four injured. He was arrested but not tried. Then in 2003, Rai ended their relationship with a long, somewhat garbled statement to the media, saying that she was tired of his "infidelity" and did not want to work with him again.

Despite the controversies, Khan, now 47, continues to enjoy phenomenal box-office success, delivering hit after hit - all unashamedly masala films: Wanted, Ready, Bodyguard, Dabangg 1 and 2, and Ek Tha Tiger.

A foil to his bad boy image is his philanthropy - he works extensively for Aids and cancer patients, and in 2008 launched the NGO Being Human with an exhibition of his artwork - he is an accomplished artist. Indian news agencies reported last week that Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan will put aside their differences and perform together in a Being Human fundraiser for those affected by the Uttarakhand flooding disaster in June.

Khan is also incredibly business savvy: he owns a production company called Salman Khan Being Human Productions, and his face sells dozens of products in India, from Honda motorcycles to Thums Up, a desi cola drink. More recently, he was made the brand ambassador of the Dubai-based fashion label Splash.

Khan has never married; he once said he didn't want children because he has nieces and nephews. He dated Katrina Kaif, currently one of Bollywood's top stars. Khan is rumoured to have recently broken up with the Romanian actress Iulia Vantur.

Tomorrow, Khan goes on trial for the 2002 hit-and-run case. If convicted, he faces a sentence of up to 10 years. His next film, Mental, directed by his brother Sohail Khan, will be out in January next year.

1989

Sooraj Barjatya's family musical Maine Pyar Kiya (I Fell in Love) hits cinemas. It is the 24-year-old Salman Khan's second film, in which he plays Prem, a spoilt, US-educated guy who returns to India and falls for the sanctimonious Suman (Bhagyashree). Khan is propelled to stardom overnight (his co-star's career goes in the opposite direction) and the film wins a host of Filmfare awards, including Best Male Debut for Khan.

1991

Three years later and with half a dozen films under his belt, Khan stars with the A-list actors Sanjay Dutt and Madhuri Dixit in Saajan, a sentimental romance about two friends and the woman they are both in love with. The film and its music are a super hit.

1994

Khan enjoys a runaway hit with Hum Aapke Hain Koun (Who Am I To You?), his second film with Barjatya. Khan is paired with Dixit again, and both are praised for their sizzling chemistry. The song Didi Tera Devar Deewana remains one of Bollywood's best-known tracks. The movie holds on to its record of highest grossing Bollywood film for seven years.

1994

Teams up with Aamir Khan for the successful comedy Andaz Apna Apna (To Each His Own Style) and shows his flair as a comic actor, but is completely overshadowed by Aamir, who is widely accepted as an actor to trump all other actors.

1995

Shares screen space with Shah Rukh Khan in the family drama Karan Arjun, a mush fest about two brothers utterly devoted to their mother, the veteran actress Rakhee, who gets her sons to avenge their slain father. Khan manages to hold his own despite SRK's histrionics. The film is a blockbuster and the words "Karan Arjun" are assimilated into Indian pop culture (they denote a strong friendship/brotherly love).

1996

Stars in the critically acclaimed but box-office failure Khamoshi (Silence) opposite Manisha Koirala, who plays a mute girl and effortlessly steals the show.

1996

Makes a cameo appearance in Karan Johar's Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (Something Happens), that dubiously titled romance that had SRK, Kajol and Rani Mukherjee in a love triangle. The film goes on to become a cult classic.

***

1998

In four separate cases, Khan is accused of illegally hunting and killing two chinkara and three blackbuck, endangered species of deer, over a period of three days in Rajasthan while shooting the film Hum Saath Saath Hain. Khan is arrested and later released by the local police. Other actors in the film - Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre - are also named in the case.

1999

Hum Saath Saath Hain is a hit; Khan and Dixit continue their reign as Bollywood's top on screen couple.

1999

Khan plays the lead in David Dhawan's raunchy drama Biwi No 1 (World's Best Wife), in which Karisma Kapoor takes on the role of a long-suffering woman who tries to win her husband back from his mistress (Sushmita Sen) by getting a makeover - yes, really.

2002

September 28: Khan runs over homeless people sleeping on a Mumbai pavement: one dies and four are injured in the accident. Khan is arrested; charges of culpable homicide are brought against the actor but are later dropped.

2003

Has an affair with the model, actress and ex-Miss World Aishwarya Rai. The couple are constantly under media scrutiny; Khan is made out to be a tantrum-throwing boyfriend. The relationship sours; Rai calls a press conference and declares she'll never work with him again.

2003

Stars in Tere Naam (In Your Name); is critically acclaimed for his work. After this, his career goes into a six-year slump.

2006

Khan is sentenced to five years in prison in the 1998 deer-poaching case but is released on bail after spending less than a week behind bars.

2009

Wanted, a crime drama directed by the southern Indian choreographer Prabhu Deva, gives Khan's waning star the boost it needs. Overnight Khan goes from lover boy to action man, and the audience loves it. Wanted becomes the second highest-grossing film that year.

2010

Dabanng, the first instalment of the adventures of the irrepressible, never-say-die cop Chulbul Pandey, brings Khan untold fame. Much appreciated are the dance sequences he performs with his sister-in-law, Malaika Arora Khan, and the exaggerated action scenes, in which Khan tears off his shirt, fights dozens of baddies at a time and never comes to any harm.

2011

Announces that he suffers from trigeminal neuralgia, a facial nerve disorder, and says he has been "quietly suffering" for seven years. Seeks treatment in the US; undergoes surgery.

2012

The high court in Rajasthan finalises charges against Khan and the other actors involved in the 1998 deer-poaching case, paving the way for the trial to commence.

2012

Khan pairs up with his ex-girlfriend, the current A-lister Katrina Kaif, for the 2012 blockbuster Ek Tha Tiger (There Once Was A Tiger), the second highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time.

March 2013

A Jodhpur court brings fresh charges against all the actors implicated in the deer-poaching case.

June 2013

Khan launches a website, www.thesalmankhanfiles.com, which aims to correctly represent the facts of the accident case.

July 6

Trial in the deer-poaching case begins. A witness for the prosecution (there are 51 witnesses) claims that he had seen the actor and his co-stars "driving after the black bucks", and says he "tried to stop them".

July 8

The social activist Hemant Patil files a complaint against Khan for offering information on the case on his website. His statement said: "When his hit-and-run case is underway and the matter is sub-judice, how can he use the internet to spread information about the proceedings?"

July 24

A Mumbai court brings charges against Khan for culpable homicide not amounting to murder in the hit-and-run case. Khan might face a jail term of up to 10 years.

July 31

Khan's brother Sohail speaks about the trial: "These trials keep coming, it's been happening for the past 17 years. So it's not really affecting us."

August 2

Trial for the deer-poaching case resumes in Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

August 19

Date set for trial for the hit-and-run case. Khan is not required to attend all the hearings, except when "the judge requires his presence".

 

ciyer@thenational.ae