Dabangg To Tubelight: How Salman Khan Switched To Deeper Cinema

Now, with Kabir Khan's Tubelight about to release, Salman Khan is still signing author-backed roles with meaty stories

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Dabangg To Tubelight: How Salman Khan Switched To Deeper Cinema

Salman Khan's Tubelight releases tomorrow


Mumbai: 

Highlights

  1. Critics complained Salman was playing a Sultan-size versions of himself
  2. Most roles made few demands on his abilities
  3. Now, Salman is still signing author-backed roles with meaty stories
Till a few years ago, Salman Khan was known for his masala, comedic, muscular style of films, which were low on meaningfulness but high on thrills. His fans lapped it up, no matter how shallow. Whether it was just shaking his belt or dancing with a towel, little of it made sense but every move Salman made caught on with his audience and profit margins grew exponentially at the box-office. Critics complained repeatedly that Salman was just playing a Sultan-size version of himself in films like Jai Ho, Ready, Bodyguard, Wanted, Dabangg and Kick. Most roles made few demands on his abilities - one silly dance step or a catchy dialogue would do, the acting was missing. One of the teasers of Dabangg (2010), which became hugely popular, had just three words: "Swagat nahi karoge?" When the trailer of Sajid Nadiadwala's Kick (2014) was released, it had one dialogue: "Mere baare mein zyada mat sochna, dil mein aata hoon samajh mein nahi." These punch lines kept him sailing for a couple of years and, needless to say, his fans would go crazy when he took off his shirt, as he frequently did in these films.

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."

After Tubelight, which releases this week, Salman Khan will be seen in Tiger Zinda Hai, the sequel to the 2012 superhit Ek Tha Tiger.
 

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