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Jab Press Ne Salman Ko Bann Kiya Tha

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Ali Peter John

Salman had just taken the first few steps towards stardom and was shooting for a film called “Suryavanshi” being directed by Rakesh Kumar who was best known for his film made with Amitabh Bachchan. A new girl called Sheeba was the heroine.

In one of the scenes being shot at the Filmalaya studios, he had to have his face covered with what was supposed to be blood. A news photographer from the Indian Express , R.D Rai couldn’t resist taking photographs of him as she was the most talked about newcomer because he had made his debut in a film starring Rekha and also because he was the son of Salim Khan who was the writing partner of Javed Akhtar who were treated like stars and were even paid more than many stars.

The photographer kept clicking and Salman kept covering his face but the photographer who was known for taking the most sensational news photographs under the worst circumstances refused to give up. The tussle between Salman and the photographer went on for almost two hours till Salman in an angry tone asked him not to take picture of his “blood – splattered” face , but the photographer told him , “aap apna kaam karo , main mera kaam kar ke jaaunga”. This sentence made Salman very angry and he rushed towards the photographer with his fists clenched and abused him in the most foul manner. The director, Rakesh Kumar tried to make peace between them , but the photographer somehow managed to take his pictures. It was felt that the matter was solved , but neither Salman nor Kumar or anyone in the unit knew the power of an ordinary news photographer.

He reported the entire event to all his colleagues from different newspapers and magazines. There was no social media those days. A meeting of the entire press in Bombay was called and it was unanimously decided to  ban Salman and the president of the union of journalists even went to the extent of asking every journalist and specially photographers to avoid giving any kind of coverage to Salman. The others were followed so strictly that even if Salman was a part of a group photograph at the launching of a film or at any event, photographers literally forced the PR men (there were no PR women) to tell the producer that they would not take any photograph of which Salman was a part and there were several times when Salman was humiliated by being asked to leave the group of a photograph in the presence of huge crowds and the industry could do nothing about it.

This “accident” led to Salman being out of the press for more than two years till it was time for a very important film like “Hum Apke Hai Kaun” to be released and the Rajshris needed publicity for the film which was given a bad preview by many and was called “Shaadi ka video”. The Barjatya brothers who were very simple people in a glamorous world talked to the editor of the leading film weekly , “Screen” and peace was finally declared when “Screen” decided to have Salman on its cover ,not alone  but with the heroine of the film, Madhuri Dixit. When “Screen” lifted the ban on Salman , the press all over the country also followed.

Salman has had many problems with the media , especially ever since the social media came into existence , but his stardom and the goodwill of his father , Salim Khan has always kept him out of deep waters even when he was involved in serious cases like the “Cinkara” incident.

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