Salman Khan The Man The Actor The Legend Review by Devapriya Sanyal: Decoding Salman Khan

A new bio avoids the actor’s controversial life and instead focuses on India’s idea of ​​fame and fame

A new bio avoids the actor’s controversial life and instead focuses on India’s idea of ​​fame and fame

A recent bout of illness and an all around miserable feeling prompted me to turn to my favorite food – Hindi films (I refuse to call them Bollywood films) from the 1990s. That I was reading Devapriya Sanyals at the same time Salman Khan The Man The Actor The Legenda deconstruction of Bhai’s fame, proved an appropriate roadmap for my film choices…

Instead of starting with Salman Khan’s big fat blockbuster, Maine Pyaar Kiya (1989), I chose Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! (1994), also directed by Sooraj Barjatya (with whom he had made his directorial debut Maine Pyaar Kiya). The film that cemented Khan as a real star actually got his co-star Madhuri Dixit a higher bill, a fact mentioned in Sanyal’s book.

Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! unlike that other 90’s game changer, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), hasn’t aged well, despite Dixit’s Phulkari-inspired jacket. The film unfolds like a loosely strung together sequence of incidents, songs and comic interludes. Why a dog refereeing a cricket match should be funny is one of those unsolved mysteries. And while we’re on the subject, let’s hope Tuffy the dog was treated right away on set.

Defense against toxicity

Sanyal’s book largely stays aloof from all the scandals and controversies that followed Khan like faithful shadows. While mentioning the hit-and-run case of 2002, his tumultuous relationship with Aishwarya Rai and its aftermath, as well as the dodger hunting and gun law violation cases, the book focuses on decoding Khan and India’s idea of ​​fame and fame during his career.

What little we see of Khan is through the memories of his good friend Kailash Surendranath. Surendranath, who knew Khan from when he was an eager 15-year-old who got his start as a model for Campa Cola (remember?) to his decade-long superstardom, recalls Khan stopping by late at night for paratha-bhurji (scrambled eggs). . and his motto for working on his body – “If you don’t have work, work on yourself.”

An introduction sets out in great detail what Sanyal intends to do with the book. The shortest chapter is “With Human Failings,” which details Khan’s headline-grabbing misconduct. His public brawls and run-ins with the law are explained away as a cost of fame, which doesn’t cut much ice as you can’t sweep bad and downright criminal behavior under the ‘boys gonna be boys’ rug. The book is at its weakest when trying to defend Khan’s toxicity.

A captivating journey

On the other hand, Sanyal’s book is most compelling when it deconstructs Khan through his roles, particularly in the chapter The Journey from Prem to Chulbul Pandey. The chapter introduces the concept of employloi, “a theoretical framework such as that developed by Erving Goffman in his book Frame Analysis.” Emploi, according to Sanyal, “is a category that is responsible for the close interaction between performance and reception”.

Just as Amitabh Bachchan’s angry young man was invariably called Vijay (is his jai in Sholay a diminutive of Vijay?) and Shah Rukh Khan’s many versions of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge‘s Raj strove to build a screen personality and Salmans Prem emploi also created a film version of Salman Khan.

Sanyal traces Khan’s development through his 15 different portrayals of Prem. From the slim, doe-eyed Prem von Maine-Pyar-Kiyacheeky ‘devar’ Prem walks in Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!the prem who fixes things Hum Saath-Saath Hain (1999) and the slightly dimwitted Prem von Andaz Apna Apna (1994), which nevertheless turns the girl into a tongue-in-cheek narrator Prepared (2011), Cheating on His Wife by Prem No entry (2005), the dating guru Prem von partner (2007) and traveling theater artist Prem of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (2015), in his fourth collaboration with Barjatya.

As the chapter details Khan’s journey from Prem to Chulbul Pandey, there is an analysis of the characters he played who were not named Prem, including Akash in this slightly sickly but melodious triangle Saajan (1991), Sameer in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Exotic Colorful Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999), the possessed lover Radhe Mohan in Tere Naam (2003), the Tapori Radhe in Searched (2009), Devil in the kick (2014), Bajrangi in Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015) and Tigers in Ek Tha Tiger (2012) and Tiger Zinda Hai (2017), Laxman in fluorescent tube (2017) Sultan in and as sultan (2021) and of course the corrupt but lovable cop Chulbul Pandey in the dabang movies.

Sanyal, who teaches English literature at Delhi University, has written a doctoral thesis with academic rigor on the anatomy of fame – right down to how Khan’s perfect physique also contributes to his iconography. I wish the book was better reviewed as there are silly mistakes at the back of such a well researched book that are scratching.

Those looking for salacious details of Khan’s life will be disappointed, while those looking for the magic in the bottle of fame will not. And I look back as Khan fights evil crime master Gogo in the delightful Andaz Apna Apna.

Salman Khan The Man The Actor The Legend; Devapriya Sanyal, Bloomsbury, ₹699.

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