The most memorable on-screen avatars of Salman Khan

Anish Mohanty

Salman Khan made his debut as an actor with director J.K Bihari’s ‘Biwi Ho To Aisi’ (1988). Though the actor had a significant role in the film, it went largely unnoticed as the film did not do very well at the box-office. Interestingly, Salman’s voice was dubbed by a dubbing artist as the makers felt his voice was not appealing enough. Sooraj Barjatya had similar thoughts while making ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’, Salman’s second film but he eventually decided to retain his original voice. The rest, as they say is history. On his 53th birthday today, I decided to compile a list of my five favourite on-screen characters portrayed by Salman.

Prithvi from Love

While Sooraj Barjatya did a good job at portraying Salman as a lover boy in ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ and later, in other variants of ‘Prem’ in ‘Hum Apke Hain Koun!’, ‘Hum Saath-Saath Hain’ and ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’, if I have to pick my favourite character portrayed by the actor out of the countless romantic films he did, it would be Prithvi from the Suresh Krissna directed ‘Love’. In the film, Salman reprised the role portrayed by Venkatesh in the Telugu film ‘Prema’ which ‘Love’ was an official remake of. Prithvi also remains one of the most vulnerable characters played by Salman Khan – a young man who was sent to jail as a juvenile for killing his abusive father. In the film, Salman was paired opposite Revathi who years later directed him in ‘Phir Milenge’ (2004).

Prem – Andaz Apna Apna

Salman’s ‘Prem’ in ‘Andaz Apna Apna’ was far removed from the romantic characters he played in Sooraj Barjatya’s films. Here, Prem was a goofy, oddball character that served as the perfect foil to Aamir Khan’s Amar. Director Rajkumar Santoshi wonderfully tapped into Aamir and Salman’s comic side and brought it to the fore effortlessly. ‘Andaz Apna Apna’ is, arguably, one of the best comedies made in the Hindi film industry; though the film under-performed at the time of its release, it is now a widely-watched film and has rightfully attained the status of a cult film.

Suhaan Kapoor – Jaan-E-Mann

Shirish Kunder’s debut directorial feature was a wildly imaginative, appropriately Bollywood-ised version of a musical. While the story was quite straightforward and simple, the kind of visual treatment Shirish chose to give the film made all the difference. Salman has popularised goofiness as a bonafide acting style and this was a film in which he pulled it off so well. As a young man who dreams of becoming a film star, Suhaan is trying to solve a personal crisis which, in turn, leads him towards a misadventure. Shirish managed to extract a wide range of emotions from Salman throughout the film quite effectively.

Chulbul Pandey – Dabangg franchise

Chulbul Pandey is, perhaps, the most popular character from recent Hindi film story. A corrupt police officer who has his heart in the right place, Salman lent the right amount of ‘swag’, attitude and of course, humour to Chulbul and it is almost impossible to imagine any other actor playing this character half as well as he did. Director Abhinav Kashyap (who made the first film in the franchise) had initially envisioned it as a small film set in a dark space. With a huge star like Salman coming into the picture, the entire dynamics of the film changed and nobody really complained. The third film in the franchise hit the screens recently.

Tiger – Ek Tha Tiger and Tiger Zinda Hai

‘Ek Tha Tiger’ (2012) released at a time when Salman and films like ‘Dabangg’ (2010), ‘Bodyguard’ (2011) and ‘Ready’ (2011). These were safe, formulaic films which were presented Salman exactly in the mould which his fans expected to see him in post Wanted (2009). While ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ an action thriller, it came armed with Kabir Khan’s sensibilities and Yash Raj Films’ sophistication. The success of the film paved the way for another film in the franchise ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ (2017). Though ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ was first offered to Shah Rukh Khan, this was a character which was, perhaps, destined to be played by Salman.

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