Salman Khan: Bollywood’s rockstar

Salman Khan: Bollywood’s rockstar

What makes Salman Khan such a force to reckon with? Asks Anupama Chopra, in a column written just before the release of Bodyguard

The week Bodyguard opens seems like a good time to ponder the paradox that is Salman Khan. This is his 83rd film in 23 years. And until Shah Rukh Khan’s Ra.One or Don 2 or Aamir Khan’s yet-untitled cop movie shifts the box office scales again, Salman is arguably Bollywood’s No 1 star. His last two films, Dabangg and Ready, were both Rs 100 crore-plus grossers.

The intriguing thing is that he can’t act. Or at least, he prefers not to. There have been occasional flashes of craft in films like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam or Dabangg, but mostly, Salman seems content to play one persona: a charming, irreverent, but morally upright superman who invariably drops his shirt (in Ready, he does this, looks into the camera and asks, “Mazaa aya?”).

In a recent interview, he said that he chooses to do films that he himself would buy a ticket for. Over the past few years, these have been loud, largely mindless action movies in which he crunches bodies while delivering signature whistle-worthy dialogues. When I asked in an interview why he repeated himself in every role, his response was: “Why? Do you have a problem with my personality?”

His films have become so successful that Salman is now his own genre or franchise. He’s cinematic comfort food—you go into a theatre to watch him do the same thing over and over again. The story, the setting, the direction, the co-star, they are all irrelevant.

Intriguingly, Salman has been an A-list star for over two decades without the consistent support of big production houses or strong scripts. Shah Rukh Khan has been the poster boy for the Chopras (Yash and Aditya) and Karan Johar. Aamir Khan, with uncanny instinct, has picked the best stories. But Salman has pretty much winged it. He prefers to work with friends and family. His relationships dictate his projects. There is no strategy or long-term planning. His personal life is equally haphazard. He’s had a slew of famous girlfriends, scandals, brushes with the police, the mafia and even stints in jail. And through it all, Salman stands tall.

What makes Salman Bollywood’s Teflon man? Why does nothing ever stick? Why do viewers forgive him everything, including allegations of abuse and drunk driving and shoddy projects like Ready and Veer? My thesis is that Salman functions as Hindi cinema’s last Rockstar Hero. Aamir and Shah Rukh are wonderfully charismatic actors, but only Salman feels subversive and deliciously dangerous. He’s 100 per cent attitude. He’s our fantasy of a life lived large and without regrets. With him, there are no half-measures. Every facet is epic. So, he’s moody, but also so generous that he doesn’t blink before giving away watches worth lakhs to friends; he’s staggeringly eligible, and yet, unable to sustain a relationship—and therefore also lonely, so he often paints furiously into the dawn; he’s unpredictable, and yet, reliable like a rock. Salman is all testosterone, but also all heart. He hasn’t had a timid day in his life. He’s fierce and determinedly unlayered. Above all, Salman has no sub-text. What you see is what you get—both onscreen and off.

Is Salman really all of this? I wouldn’t know. Over 20-odd years, I’ve only interviewed him thrice. I’ve enjoyed a few (too few) of his films. While I am intrigued by the cult of Bhai, I am not a convert. But clearly, I’m a minority. Bollywood’s number crunchers are predicting a Rs 60-crore opening five-day weekend for Bodyguard. This isn’t an actor. It’s an experience.

By Anupama Chopra for The OPEN Magazine


The author tweets at @anupamachopraSubscribe to me on YouTube


  • ravinder

    anupma chopra dont have the standard to comment for BHAI. It doesn’t matter whether u like his movies or not, we are there for BHAI always. so shut ur dirty mouth.

    • sajjad

      look mr anupam chopra i dnt know who the hell u r, but stop writing this kind of reports against salman khan, as long as public like him u have no rights to put him down. mind it. we love him.

  • pavan

    If Salman doesn’t know how to act, he wouldn’t have survived these many years….. We love his charm his personality his ACTING and everything he does…. and I agree with both Ravinder and Sajjad

  • ayaaz ahmed


  • shubham

    hi salman your film is very good

  • asad

    hi mr anupama chopra, if u now how to act y dnt u act urself and stop judging others acting skill, salman khan has been in the indutry for 20 years and now people call him the new rajnikanth of bollywood, also i am his biggest biggest biggest fan, so plz can u shut the hell up, also u should be sued for writing such nasty comment, would u like it if i done the same to ur mother, wife or children

  • steven hopkins

    i am from america and i am not a asian but i am still salman khans fan, not just tht all my neibors love him and his acting talents, so plz watch b4 u speak, if salman khan wants he can ruin u by a blow, i am his truly fans

    • Jack

      Bs that you are not Indian. You write just exactly like an uneducated Indian salman khan fan. Day laborers with no education can’t spell or write anything but something like this fractured , misspelled rant

  • pavan malhotra

    hi i just wanted tell this son of a ***** critic tht right now salmans khans popuarty and fandom is more than any actor in hollywood or bollywood, and any politician, he is the most powerful person, so anupama chopra dnt now wheter ur a bloody male or female but next time watch ur tounge

  • pavan malhotra

    hi i just wanted tell this son of a beep critic tht right now salmans khans popuarty and fandom is more than any actor in hollywood or bollywood, and any politician, he is the most powerful person, so anupama chopra dnt now wheter ur a bloody male or female but next time watch ur tounge

  • vivek


  • Avenger

    Mr. Anupama Chopra is the darling spouse of Vidhu Vinod Chopra.

    There is no Better Actor than Salman Khan Today!

    Because he does not act, he reacts naturally and he fits like a Tee in every role. Be it Tere Naam, Andaz Apna Apna, Maine Pyar Kiya, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Dabangg, Bodyguard or any of his movies. He acts better than anyone else.

    If you don’t understand his acting, then you dont know what acting is all about.

    Mr. Anupama, why don’t you teach your Husband Vidhu to make perfect Blockbuster movies first? Most of his movies are disaters.

    Salman Khan is the King of Hearts..

    • MD

      Wow! What a reply! Carry on, dude! I appreciate your well-reply!


    Hi guys stop using strong words for ms anupama choopra she is speaking truth , we all knows that mr salman khan can not act ,he can only do action or he will get naked will show he’s body so guys just shut up all salman khan friends and tell him to learn how to act , salman can not act !

    • MD

      Are you her brother? You shut your filthy mouth up first! Salman does not need to act! By just showing his-real-self, he can entertain people! what else do you expect from him? Salman is the real hero!

    • ANR

      Are you her brother? Shut your filthy mouth up first before judging others because you know nothing about real world as you are still in your mother’s womb. Salman does not need to act and we, his fans either, don’t want him to act (i.e. crying like a woman or playing underdogs in films). Just by showing his-real-self on screen, he can entertain people. What else can one expect from him? He is the real hero and eternal superstar!

    • Riyaaz Ke Abba

      Abey Namakool, kitne paise diye tujhe tere boss SRG@y ne, yeh sab bakwaas likhne ko? Ghar chal, main aur teri ammi teri patloon utaar kar chabuk se teri tashreef suja denge!!

  • Vidhu Vinod Khopra

    Mr. Anupama Chopra is a Hypocrite, whose husband made Unknown all time disasters like Khamosh & Sazaa E Maut.

    Why don’t you become a Director yourself and make perfect films yourself?

  • amid

    mr anupama,u got no rights to say something negative about any actors.and with sallu bhai ur opinion is wrong. we love his movie coz when we see his movies we smile we clap we want to b like him for 2 hrs and importantly we forget our depression for few hours.

  • syed

    dear anupama chopra,
    when you go to market to buy something, when you find something wrong with it do you but that or leave? when you dont buy which doesn’t suit according to you then dont buy. why do you like a mad cap shout in the market that you dont like something. If you dont buy that thing , do you thing the shop owner will have huge loss. so i kindly request you to please dont try to make fool of yourselves and ourselves.
    I think you understand better.

  • Preity

    Salman Khan is gay so of course he has to keep coming up with various excuses for why he’s never been married or had any children in his life and he’s 45 years old.

    • A$$RG@y

      How can that be? As your Mother & Daughter have been $hagging him regularly.

  • gaurav

    salman rockkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

  • sir dagman

    no pple,salman he is no gay.its his principles and he has a mission

  • A$$RG@y Bh@dwa

    A$$RG@y fans are so jealous of Salman and his success, that they will stoop to any level.

    Salman has had the most beautiful Actresses in the World as his girlfriends. If he was gay they wouldn’t have been happy with him for all these years.

    On the other hand aS$RG@y’s wife is Kinnar Johars Soulmate.
    He is a p0lygamist @$$h0le.

  • sir dagman

    preity wat throng with u?if my hero is gay, wat of u?lezb

  • Vidhu Vinod Khopra

    Stammer like a Goat, buy all awards, manipulate Media & scream from the rooftops- I’m the Best, I’m the King Khan, I’m No:1.

    That’s what a real actor is, Isn’t it true Mrs. Chopra?
    We get the point, your sponsor SRG is the complete actor.

  • Manju

    Salman is a very good actor. He has done all kinds of roles. He has a very expressive face and beautiful eyes that just can’t hide any emotion. In some of his past movies, he has taken things lightly, casually and chosen not to act. Sometimes he also suddenly becomes conscious but I would say he is the most versatile of three khans. And above all he is the most charismatic and lovable star around.

  • sir dagman

    md hw do u right reply,prety not lezb?

  • chand

    Anupama Chopra…..
    I am a die hart salman fan.Now i
    categories all the khans…..

    1:-salman khan:-most sexiest,hunk and a man with golden heart
    2:-aamir khan:-thoughfull person and his ebery film
    have some message(content is awesome)
    3:-best actor:-srk(no doubt)

    now u told me i know u know that salman is not a best
    actor.but his films collection is just out of world on india.
    can u say it is not a talent that without any good acting
    he is the heaert of millions.his films cross 100 acrore marks.

    u know why i told you:-

    1:-staright forward:- he speak what his heart say,he is
    not diplomatic person.

    2:-his innocence:-in bodyguard the only good thing is his innocency.i think this niece behaviour definitely touch the hearts.

    3:-image:- a man with golden heart who help the needy people

    i think u saw salman as an no no lets compare salman
    khan in indian film industry with ur profession.u r may be a journalist,doctor or even something……
    “do u earn those respect which salman earn,do u reach on those level on ur profession where salman is…… u make any image in profession as
    salman in pictures……..if ur answr is no….so please donot comment .

  • irshan

    bla bla bla bla bla
    sub bakwas hai
    srk is the best
    ha ha ha ha

  • shehzad

    salman is the no 1 acter in bollywood i like him vert much I saw only salmans picture and loved him

  • Roobas Oliyath

    Who is this Anupama Chopra to write about Salman? Herself mentioned she took only 3 interviews and proved she donot know anything about Salman with her thesis! Madam, Salman is certainly a thesis material but you need to dive deep in your investigation, put a lot more effort and be dedicated to come up with a good content. I give a rating of half star for your work. Invest more time to understand him and his work before you start writing something about him. Reading your article I can only conclude, ‘You got what you wanted. Get noticed.’ Write anything on Salman and you get noticed is the trend.
    We dont need your thumps up to prove his acting skills. We dont need any awards to justify it. Just put any other face to the movies Salman had done and become huge hits, you will know the difference. Just an eg: Compare how Salman did Prem in HAHK and how Hrithik did the same in MPKDH. Both the charectors are same, not just by name.
    So, if you have some vision, starting putting your favourite faces to that long list of super duper successful roles Salman had done over the years. You will learn what is acting, how to review and most importantly, how to prepare before coming up with a thesis! Good luck.

  • prasjessh

    SAlman Rocks

  • sujesh

    Dear Anupam chopra,

    What are you trying to say through your coloumn I mean i dont understand u said that u enjoyed salmans very few movies and end of the colounmn u have said that salman is an are contradicting.i want to ask you something.Who do you think is the best actor in bollywood?Aamir is the only one who can act…I personally dont think salman is a great actor….but atleat he is not doing crap melodramas which srk does..Let me tell u one thing Ready ,Dabaang and bodyguard all are different storyline…SRK is the guy always does the same crap thing..same love stories in different what to say cultural setup …old wine in new bottle..and srk looks like an old man today….And Anupama I want to know which films do you like of Srk’s…Duplicate,BAdshaah,1 2 ka four,dil se,Kabhie alvida(melodrama).

  • arshiya unnisa

    salman khan is the only legend rockstar in the world, he is the man with a golden heart!i love him alot! he is uncomparable to anyone in the world!salman is the only one who can act and every roll suits him!salman khan had done many films like dabbangg,ready,wanted,veer,bodyguard all are different storyscripts…but SRK IS THE GUY who always does the same crap thing..same love stories in diferent way to say cultural setup…. just like old wine in a ne bottle… srk lokks like an old man today…. i suggest srk to resign from bollywood industry and spend his life days with his family…srk looks much older than amitabh bachan.

  • Asif iqbal

    salman bhai is our ideal, salman bhai ke liye pura cinema hall book karwa sakta hiu lv u salman bhai .. Bodyguard 10 time dekhi hai bhai. Ek tha tiger 20 time dekhunga. lv u Salman bhai very much..

  • Ibrahim sourie sidibay

    Salman is the only reason why I watch bollywood moviess, and he is the best since action legend Dharamji.Salman rules no doubt,he is down to earth n humble and not drowned with fame like egoistic SRK. Am an american originally from africa and in africaeverybody loves Salman,he is d best.

    • Ramashree

      salman is Real hero of BollyWood I Love You Bhai Jaan

  • juhi

    I really love salman a lot and never miss his film and interviews of medias.In my opinion he is the real hero of whole universe.I always pray for him that he succeed in every step of his life. thanks & khuda hafiz.