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Corruption has become our culture: Salman

Salman Khan on rubbing the politicians the wrong way, his growing anger at the system, and his anxiety over the outcome of the legal cases against him

Most of my interviews with Salman Khan have taken place at Mehboob studios – some have had me sitting with him right outside his van, some took place with the two of us walking around and some others were conducted in the stuffy environs of the studio.

Salman Khan
Salamn Khan

This time around, it’s quite different: too agitated to sit down and talk, Salman is standing near a noisy gallery even as fans outside shout for his attention and security guards refuse to let him out of sight. Excerpts from the interview:

You have been speaking against Aam Aadmi Party when in fact referencing the party could have helped you add to film's publicity...
Salman Khan: It is not about helping the film and no, we are not going to support any political entity. Arvind Kejriwal has to prove himself now; he has to earn our trust. The media has built his reputation, but when you start ripping him apart, will he be able to handle it? As stars, we have faced media backlash for years now, and we are still not able to handle it well.

In this dark political scenario, he seems to be offering us some hope...
Salman: What happens if he doesn't deliver? We need to give him a fair chance. Think about it: he said that he didn’t want to join politics and that he didn’t want to join hands with Congress. He has gone ahead and done just the opposite. Now I have the best of intentions for Mumbai, but will I be able to govern the city well? Corruption is rampant everywhere and a little bit of it is more than welcome. Let's treat it like a commission because most of these guys get such paltry sums as salary...

Hold on to that thought. Corruption doesn’t exist at only the lower levels... it is prevalent at much higher positions too. In fact, the higher the position, greater is the extent of corruption...
Salman: Exactly. It has become our culture…people extort money in so many different ways. Churane me maze hai aur wohh bach bhi rahe hai. But I hope this man does well. Also, I feel that as a chief minister, he should get himself a home …it is not about a particular party. People who are doing good have continued to win successive terms.

You have to admit there are very few people like that...
Salman: Yes, I admit to it. Also these few are involved in the most number of controversies because they are simple, honest people.

Your latest film, Jai Ho, looks like a little more ‘responsible’ than your other masala films...
Salman: It is also a masala film, yaar. It is a film aimed at spreading niceness. I am getting angry, agitated and frustrated now; my head hurts because of the comparisons being made. This film is about a common man, a good politician and a bad politician; that’s it…

There have been innumerable films like that...
Salman: Thousands of them. This one is also a bl***y remake (laughs). (After a pause) I was so attached to this film…and now I am speaking my heart out. It will invariably rub a politician in the wrong way and then I am going to land in big trouble, but I don’t care anymore. The problem with us Indians is that we are always on the backfoot and people take advantage of that.

Changing the topic... you are playing godfather to some girls joining the industry...
Salman: That's not true. I don’t give importance to a lot of actresses even if they are my friends. I encourage all those who have talent and who fit into my next lot of films. I like girls who are hard working and determined to do their best.

Your friend Sanjay Dutt has been in and out to jail now...
Salman: Yes, he should take care of himself when he comes outside. God forbid if I were to face the same situation, we will fight it through a battery of lawyers, not politicians. We have the best legal team with us. I am not going to take any help from any politician. If the judgement goes against us, I am going in. I have mentally kept some years away if the worst happens. I am not going to buckle under pressure from politicians who ask me kya ho raha hai case ka. I will fight like I should because I am not guilty. I am fed up of this. And don’t worry about me, I will come out and still get those TRPs soaring.

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