Jottings From a Fifty-Year-Long Journey
Salim Khan’s son, Salman Khan was given a break by one of his friends, J.K Bihari who cast him in his film “Biwi Ho Toh Aise” which had Rekha and Farouque Shaikh in key roles. Salman had neither the looks or the physique to make it as a hero or that is what the masses and the critics said about him and dismissed him as a young man with no future. The pull of his father however got him some more small films, which again didn’t create any impact and only led to more setbacks or the aspiring hero.
One of the films he had signed was “Sooryavanshi”, which was to be directed by Rakesh Kumar who was known as an ‘Amitabh Bachchan specialist’ after he had directed Amitabh in six major films. Sheeba, another newcomer was his leading lady.
I together with my photographer,R.D Rai had gone to the Filmalaya Studios to cover the shooting of the film. All was well till my photographer saw Salman’s face covered with artificial blood. I didn’t know what got into Rai who I had got transferred from the Indian Express, a daily to ‘Screen’,a film weekly because he was very good at taking real life and on the spot pictures. He kept shooting Salman, till Salman lost his temper and not only pushed him and his camera, but also abused him in the typical Bombay ‘gaalis'(abuse). But no-one could stop Rai who was a die-hard news photographer who did not rest till he got what he wanted in his camera.
There was a ruckus in the studio and everyone was waiting for Rakesh Kumar to control the situation, but Rai had taken his pictures and we decided to walk out of the studio.
We reached office and I told my lady editor the whole story and she immediately said,“boycott him or better still ban him”. It was decided that no photograph of Salman would be published on any page of ‘Screen’ and no mention would be made of his name anywhere.
The ban was final and the news about the ban spread to all the other newspapers and weekly (there was no social media then) and all those who had some issue or the other with Salman unanimously banned him. The ban was so severe that at functions and launches of films or any other function, even the most ordinary photographers asked the producers or the organiser to take Salman out of a group and only then would they click the picture.
This ban went on for quite some time, till it was time for the Rajshris to release their most ambitious film,“Hum Aapke Hai Kaun”. They had done their homework and one afternoon, all the four Rajshri brothers, Rajkumar Barjatya,Ajit Kumar Barjatya and their two other brothers landed in our office. They had a long meeting with my editor and it will never be known what they talked to the, but the result was that a colour still of the entire team of “HAHK” was published on the front page of ‘Screen’ on the day of the release, which also led to the lifting of the ban on Salman Khan. The other newspapers and weeklies also followed and the ban on Salman was called off.
But, Salman never forgot my name as he seemed to believe that I was the culprit who had created all the trouble for him. We were on a flight once and there were many other stars traveling to Delhi to attend an awards night. Someone told him that I was on the flight. He couldn’t control himself and kept shouting,“Ali Peter John Ali Peter John Ali Peter John, I have been waiting for years to touch his feet”. It was my friend, Anupam Kher who made him see reason, while I was prepared for the worst.
It was only on October 24, this year that we came face to face at The Taj Lands End where Subhash Ghai was celebrating his birthday. Salman was last guest to arrive at 1 am and I don’t know what happened between two hearts.We embraced each other and decided to forget the past and start a new friendship. I have expanded my experienced and leave the rest to the most loved man in the industry and also the country.
Some small incidents can sometimes lead to such major fires which take years to be extinguished.
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