By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service
Mumbai, Dec 31 (IANS) It's
very easy to brand Salman Khan an unholy terror and be done with it. After all, he has been in trouble in the past...and will
probably continue to be on the wrong side of the morality line.
Then why does he command so much hysterical adulation from family, friends and fans?
"It's a tricky question," says a very close friend of Salman. "I've seen both sides of Salman. I've seen him as the enfant
terrible and I've seen him as the absolutely gracious and kind soul who will go out and do anything for his friends. Salman
is what we call a 'yaaron ka yaar'. There's little that he won't do for someone he cares for."
That's one side of Salman. The other, far more strongly assertive, side is the one that surfaces when inebriated or pushed
to the corner.
This is the side that surfaces when Salman turns into a child-like attention seeker. It's the side that Aishwarya Rai got
to see when she was with Salman.
The love affair, like all love connections, started beautifully enough on the sets of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Hum Dil De
Chuke Sanam". By the time Sanjay started work on his next film "Devdas", their relationship had taken a sharp violent and
This was the time when Salman began to get aggressively possessive about his ladylove. He would accuse her of having an
affair with every co-star she worked with. Once, while director Rohan Sippy was shooting his debut film "Kuch Naa Kaho",
Salman stormed on to the sets and tried to bodily drag her out. When members of the crew protested he threatened to punch
In fact, anyone who protested on Aishwarya's behalf was labelled a traitor and given the Khan-damn treatment.
The brutality and violence reached a flashpoint for Aishwarya when she told him she couldn't take him and the brutality
"No" to Salman? Not acceptable! Thereafter he began to hound the lady like a man possessed. He monitored every move she
made and parked his vehicle outside her building daring her to step out. For an awards function, Aishwarya had to drive out
crouching in the backseat of her car so that her jealous admirer wouldn't spy on her as she broke the 'house arrest'
Salman landed up at the awards function to humiliate her in every way possible. Not a single soul intervened. They watched
mutely or pretended not to see as Salman threatened, heckled and jeered.
This scene was almost like an instant replay version of what had happened to poor Zeenat Aman in the early 1980s when a
co-star (coincidentally another macho Khan) and his wife clobbered her in full public eye as everyone stood in a semi-circle
Zeenat nearly lost her eye to what she thought was love. Aishwarya's scars aren't that visible.
Why and how is Salman Khan allowed to get away with such behaviour with women, not once but repeatedly?
Many years ago he had followed actress Somy Ali into a discotheque, where she was chilling out with friends, and emptied a
bottle of a soft drink on her head, then chased the poor girl on the road as she tried to drive away.
Is this normal behaviour for a 40-year-old man?
Maybe not. But Salman has his own strange pattern of right and wrong. Salman is said to have told his close friends that
he has no recollection of the conversations with Aishwarya splashed in the press. Maybe he doesn't.
As one of his devoted co-stars cooed, "Salman is such a bachcha (baby)! All that terrorist talk is just like a child
playing with dangerous toys, pretending he's all grown up."
Child at 40? Surely there's something seriously wrong with this kind of indulgent perception of delinquent behaviour. But,
then, I haven't met a single Salman co-star who doesn't dote on him.
The best part of his tumultuous life is the amazing support system provided by his family. His brothers are killingly
protective about the star of the family. Salman's family and friends rallying around him is understandable - he has always
incited a fearfully protective instinct among all his co-stars.
Blessedly he still has fans and popularity. The success of "Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya" proves it. Sure, "Kyon Ki" didn't work.
But it proved Salman is willing to take risks.
As he celebrated his 40th birthday recently, one can only hope to see him finally settle down in life.