- Critics complained Salman was playing a Sultan-size versions of himself
- Most roles made few demands on his abilities
- Now, Salman is still signing author-backed roles with meaty stories
The watershed moment in Salman Khan's recent career was Kabir Khan's 2015 film Bajrangi Bhaijaan, in which the actor was convincing and earnest in his performance as a simple man from a small town who is an ardent devotee of Lord Hanuman. This role didn't have the Salman Khan stamp on it - he didn't try to be cool, didn't wear leather jackets or drive fancy cars. Forget dialogubaazi, Bajrangi Bhaijaan barely spoke at all. The response to the film, not only from his public but also from critics, prompted the superstar to drift away from empty comedies he once used to make and towards films that would challenge him as an actor and had a meaningful story to tell. What Bajrangi Bhaijaan started, 2016's Sultan continued. Salman put on extra kilos to look like a middle-aged former wrestling champion, learn to actually wrestle and even attempted a Haryanvi accent. Once again, he had few one-liners and the shirtless scenes were now actually integral to the storytelling. He couldn't resist a clever song in Baby Ko Bass Pasand Hai, nor one of those Dhinka Chika-style dance moves but he struck gold with praise from critics who, for once, wrote about his acting and his accent in relatively glowing terms.
Now, with Kabir Khan's Tubelight about to release, Salman Khan is still signing author-backed roles with meaty stories. While speaking about changing tracks, Salman said, "I see a big difference in the writers. They are the ones who come up with excellent stuff for me. The writing, story, and screenplay are so good that I don't have to do much. I just follow the script because if I push too much, then it will look weird, people will say, he is trying too hard. Now I would say, story and the screenplay are taking me through. I have been fortunate with good work."