I have never bullied Arbaaz: Salman Khan
From Abhinav Kashyap to Arbaaz Khan, how has the Dabangg 2 journey been?
Salman: What do you want me to say? We never wanted Abhinav not to be a part of Dabangg 2. I was in Bangkok for a shoot and I called Abhinav to say that ideally, I would like the same team that did Dabangg to work on the sequel as well. Only after he refused did we request Arbaaz to take over. Arbaaz was the creative producer of Dabangg and he was the natural choice for the sequel.
So, how was it shooting with your kid brother?
Arbaaz and I am just a year-and-a-half apart. We have had our creative differences, but I’ve never bullied him. On the set, there were times when he wanted it his way and he got it. And there were times when I got my way. But, whatever we did was for the betterment of the film.
Arbaaz says you have become a giant as far as stardom goes. So, expectations from your films are also huge…
Well, I don’t agree with the giant bit at all. I’m the same Salman I was 20 years ago. I will not deny that there are huge expectations from Dabangg 2. We have worked that much harder because of it. We didn’t think just because the first one worked, this one will also work.
The sequel is obviously in the same genre. There is no gyaanbaazi in it. We have tried to better the action, the emotional quotient and the songs. We have also ensured that there are no caricatures and gags. The idea is not to take anything for granted.
Over to Arbaaz… Do you think any other actor could play Chulbul Pandey?
Impossible. If Salman refuses to play Chulbul Pandey, the character will have to be buried. If any other actor has to attempt the role of Chulbul Pandey, he can perhaps try it after a decade. Like there was one Agneepath (1990) with Amitabh Bachchan and 22 years later, Hrithik Roshan did another one. But there has to be a huge gap if you do a remake; the audience needs to wipe out the memories of the earlier hero. However, in the case of Chulbul Pandey, it has to be Salman only. Bollywood is new to the sequel game; Hollywood has seen sequels for much longer. Their Rocky, Rambo or Raiders of the Last Ark series are easy to identify with, because there is a common thread and the lead actor doesn’t change. You need Sylvester Stallone and Harrison Ford there. Likewise, you need Salman Khan here. You have got to have Chulbul Pandey retaining his original characteristics and then, you can put him in newer surroundings. But he is a pre-requisite, that’s non-negotiable.
So, Dabangg 2 will not stray too much from the original?
Dabangg 2 is a smart film with a heart. It’s embellished with a good story, screenplay and characters. The pre-requisites of Dabangg are different from those of Dhoom, Munna Bhai or Golmaal. In our case, you need that feeling of deja vu when you watch the sequel, because that is your connect with the first part. It is a sequel, a franchise. If it starts looking like a completely different film, you will lose the connect. We have consciously kept it like that, but of course, we have sprinkled a lot of newness into it.