Salman Khan is a simmering bundle of contradictions. There’s the Salman who kept me awake till 3 in the morning with his rather strange antics when I met him for the first time. Then there’s the other Salman who went down from my hotel room at that unearthly hour to counsel Abhishek Bachchan on matters of the heart. At the end of the conversation he took off his Rolex wristwatch and gave it to Abhishek as a friendship band.
Extremely generous, Salman turns livid when provoked and pushed into a corner. He narrated an incident to me where at a crowded restaurant some guys began heckling him by calling him unflattering names like “Sallu” and “Hey Pansy”. Salman tried to ignore them as long as he could. Then he blew up.
That’s exactly what Salman is expected to do. Most of the time he doesn’t disappoint his fans. I remember I was at a restaurant with Salman (the same one where he had been heckled) when suddenly he began banging on the toilet door. Everyone in the restaurant just stopped eating/drinking/dancing and stared to see the inevitable fight.
Fortunately Zayed Khan emerged from behind the door. When he saw who was creating a ruckus he embraced Salman like a long-lost buddy.
Salman is essentially a child who needs to be noticed constantly. All the time he unconsciously ends up doing things that attract attention. Most of the time he doesn’t realize where his attention-seeking takes him. It could be to Aishwarya Rai’s doorstep where at the time of their friendship, he pounded his hands to a bloody pulp on her door when she refused to let him in.
Salman has to go where he wants, even if a ‘No Entry’ board stares him frostily in his chiseled face. He’ll ignore every warning sign and head first for the place he’s most unwanted.
More than a film actor Salman sees himself as a rock star. He loves to be on stage while thousands of fans cheer from the audience. During that moment his most intimate infantile fantasy—of the child who climbs the parapet to get Mom to come running—is fully realized.
At home he’s a wonderful son, not just to his biological mother but also to ‘Helen Aunty’, the woman whom his father married. The Khans run a very liberal household. Islam, Hinduism and Christianity have a free passage. It’s a large open house where unexpected guests are always expected… and welcome.
Unlike the two other Khan superstars who haven’t known proper parental guidance (Shah Rukh lost both his parents at a young age and Aamir never saw eye-to-eye with his father) Salman’s familial background is as normal as it gets. Contradictorily the rebellious streak shows up in his behavior all the time.
Whether on screen or off it, Salman opts for the maximum-attention mode of functioning. If he’s known to get physically aggressive with his directors (Satish Kaushik and Puneet Isaar who worked on his last 2 films will ouch… sorry vouch for this) he’s also known to go out of his way to accommodate filmmakers.