Man with a Heart


Delivering a mega hit with his first movie; check. Stealing the hearts of millions; check. Being dotted with legal troubles; check. Yet maintaining a mega-star status for over 20 years; check. Being Human; check. That is what Salman Khan is all about. Youth Inc finds out what makes the Bollywood’s poster boy the person he is.
When it comes to Bollywood, he has done it all. Well, when it comes to society, he has done it all. Whether it is helping out a well-known filmmaker by starring in his movie recently and of course, delivering a hit, or providing pointers to and training the younger generation in the industry, he’s been there. He’s been there to support his sister’s new venture and to act in his brothers’ movies. He’s been there to help society, even in the darkest times of his life. Of course, it has not come without the negatives. The cases and fatwas against him, the allegations of beating up girlfriends, and picking fights with other stars. And to add to that he’s always got a raw deal from the media. He hates the media; the media hates him. In this face-off, many times, truth is the first casualty. Even then, Salman Khan has learnt to live with it. And how. King size, might we add.
Take for instance, the recent success of his movies – three in a row. Wanted, Dabangg, and Ready. It can’t get cheesier than Wanted. It’s possibly just an astonishing display of plywood machismo. But even that couldn’t stop it from becoming a huge blockbuster simply because ‘superbrat’ Salman swaggered through the film with his trademark cheekiness, doing nothing, just being himself. That made the movie. Every strut of his was greeted with wolf whistles and cat calls. Every line of cheeky dialogue is loudly chanted by his fans and some of them, who are watching the film for the umpteenth time, anticipate his lines by screaming them out a split second before they are spoken on screen. This is clearly one star whose fans don’t care what he does, as long as he is on screen. They want him to beat up guys beefier than him. And, yes oh yes, they reserve the maximum applause for that one moment in a film when he takes his shirt off, either for the mother of a fight or an item number.
Showbiz, like any profession lived out in the glare of the arc lights, is a tough, difficult, stressful environment where you are only as good as your last success. It generates extreme tension and, often, fear and disappointment. No one enjoys being an ape in an open cage, where passers-by are always making rude remarks. Plus, you have all the anxieties. The extortionists are after you. The cops keep a constant eye on you. The underworld wants you to dance to their tune. This actor however, manages just fine.
It’s not just in the movies. In his personal life too, Salman is on top. He is well respected with family who adore their Salman bhai. They term is as the model son, the fun uncle and the real ‘big brother’. ’Tis no wonder then that he picked up the feeling of giving back very early on from his father, noted script writer Salim Khan. So how did Being Human actually start? “It started a very long time ago, actually. I have been doing this for a while, but quietly. Then I thought of taking it to a whole new level,” says the superstar, adding that his dad had been helping people out all his life, which led to many people conning the family. “We had to give a proper route to the cause,” he says. And who is it that Being Human is targeting to help? Is it the children, the destitute or the disabled? “See, if money can save a life, I will try to save it. Unfortunately, since is it my foundation, it has gotten tremendous publicity, but not enough funds. Within our limited resources, we have helped children with heart problems,” is his answer.

Salman further goes on to say that when a person establishes a charitable trust, he needs to make sure that he has adequate funds to start with. But after, no matter who you are or how much money you make, you cannot sustain it by yourself. It cannot be a one-man show. Yet, Salman does not ask anyone to contribute toward the organisation since he had a unique experience with a renowned industrialist. “I went to him with the thought and asked him for help. ‘I don’t do charity’ was his reply. I was taken aback, and asked him why such a ‘big man,’ an industrialist like himself, would not believe in charity. He said that ‘Salman, when you have 10 lakh people working under you, come to me then. There cannot be a better charity than employment. Each of my employees receives a decent salary.’ After that, I have stopped asking for donations,” he elaborates.

That, however, has not stopped Salman to look for better avenues of funding. He has started the Being Human line of clothing, although he is quite livid with those who are ripping of the designs and selling fake copies. “Are we allowed to hurt someone who makes fakes?” he asks visibly agitated. “Can we at least slap the guy around because that’s going to happen soon?” He goes on to insist that only Cotton World sells the originals, and all fans who want one should go there. But that is only until October; after that, he is launching the Being Human line of clothing for the public, first in India and then globally. Meanwhile, to promote the brand, he’s been wearing his brand’s tees to events.

He organised a charitable fashion show with a line of men who had never done it before. Sunny Deol walked the ramp, Aamir Khan, who had never done it before, Ajay Devgan, who is extremely media and fashion shy, were there. Add to that the boys of the industry – the stylish Akshay Kumar, the deadly Sanjay Dutt, and the charming Saif Ali Khan. They all joined hands to support the cause so dear to Salman’s heart. A year later, he had all the sexy sirens of the industry on the ramp for the Being Human Show. Whether it be Katrina Kaif, Priyanka Chopra, Rani Mukherjee, Bipasha Basu, sisters Karisma and Kareena Kapoor, Priety Zinta or Sushmita Sen each walked for a cause that night. “I didn’t want to disturb the guys again!” he laughs.

The handsome hunk didn’t stop there. Little did his fans know that he is also a great painter, and has sold paintings to channel the flow of funds in to Being Human. He associated the organisation to a unique sport – cycling, and organised a cyclathon for the cause. The proceeds went to the Being Human Foundation. “It was a good thing to do! You are in Mumbai, there is so much pollution and traffic and everyone is so unhealthy, this could be a great solution,” says the actor, who has been spotted taking the cycle from Bandra, where he lives in Mumbai to Filmcity Studios in Goregaon.

So what actually makes Salman the man he is? Who are the people who contributed to his life? What makes him distinguish right from wrong? “First and foremost, parents. Your parents give you life, and your character comes from them. Then the guys you grow up with – your friends and your heroes. Basically, just them,” says the star. But then he adds, “And then, you know, things still teach you a lot – so if you are ready to keep your eyes open and listen, you’ll do fine. It’s not rocket science. Every religion teaches you how to tell the good from the bad; just follow that!”

And what according to him is being human? “If you are doing something and are very busy, but still take a moment to help someone, or even if you aren’t doing anything and take out time to help someone, nothing can be better than that. That according to me is Being Human.” What a perfect summation of a beautiful thought from a person who takes the avatar of his charitable self time and again.

If you want to do your two bits for society, turn to page 35 to see how you can pursue a career in social work.


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