Subhash K. Jha, IANS
Mumbai, (IANS) Salman Khan has resumed his film shooting after staying out of public glare since the publication last month of a taped conversation purportedly between him and Aishwarya Rai in which he admitted links with the underworld.
And the first film he's shooting for is Ravi Chopra's "Babul" where he plays Amitabh Bachchan's son.
Salman just shot a song with Rani Mukherjee who plays his wife. Says director Ravi Chopra, "Salman joined us on Aug 5. That's one day later than expected. The delay was because of the rains (torrential rains had caused floods in Mumbai in late July), and certainly not because of the troubles in Salman's life.
"Under no circumstances did I allow the so-called controversy to dictate my decision. It was Salman for the role of Rani's husband from the start, and no one else. See, we needed an actor who shares a paternal rapport with Mr Bachchan. After 'Baghban' it was clear that Salman shared a very high comfort level with Mr Bachchan. So there was never any question of anyone else. I found the whole tape thing stupid and senseless. Not for a moment did it colour my judgement about Salman."
The director cannot forget how Salman slipped into "Baghban" in a relatively small role, which Shah Rukh Khan had said no to.
Speaking further on the film's schedule Ravi says, "Ideally I'd have liked to shoot the film at one stretch from now till January. But now I've to take a break in between because a Karan Johar film got delayed and Rani will take off to shoot for his film."
This kind of understanding sounds completely unusual in an industry governed by self-interest. "Not where I come from," laughs Ravi. "My father B.R Chopra worked within a milieu of tremendous co-operation and solidarity. We filmmakers need to re-discover that atmosphere conducive to creativity."
The director of "Zameer", "Aaj Ki Awaaz" and "Baghban" gets nostalgic. "My dad always made socially relevant films. His 'Ek Hi Raasta' was about widow rehabilitation. And now my 'Babul' is also on the same theme.
"There are some issues in our society that are universal and constant. I've tackled two of them in 'Baghban' and 'Babul'. But I'm no stranger to films with a conscience. Even my 'Aaj Ki Awaaz' had a strongly underlined message. I hope to make socially conscious films, just like my father."
Elaborating further on the cast, Ravi says, "When we put Mr Bachchan, Hemaji, Rani and Salman in place we still needed to cast for Rani's second husband. That was a problem. Everyone we approached wondered what they'd do in a film that already has two big stars like Mr Bachchan and Salman. Finally John Abraham just slipped into the role. They all look like part of a family."
Ravi Chopra hopes to release "Babul" in May. "It's a very heart warming story, just like 'Baghban'. I firmly believe films with a heart cannot fail."