Mar 7th, 2013
Salman Khan and Sohail Khan asthey shoot for Mental in Dubai.
Watching Bollywood superstar Salman Khan at work is an intriguing exercise. It is the fifth day of Khan’s film shoot at Dubai’s Wonderland Theme And Waterpark and there’s controlled chaos all around as dozens of technicians scurry to get their action sequence ready. In their midst is a seemingly relaxed Khan,chatting casually to his co-star Tabu at a table nearby.
Barring the fake blood oozing from his temple, there’s an aura of invinci bility around him. He’s solaid-back that you wonder if Bollywood’s most bankable star (his films earn billions at the box-office and his public appearances are known to trigger mass hysteria) has ever been introduced to an emotion called nervousness.
In stark contrast is Sohail Khan, his brother and director of the film, titled Mental. Sohail is flat on the floor with his tense face plastered to the green floor of the amusement park, egging the villain of the film to replicate his moves while instructing him to look battered. He gets up in a flash and hurries back to check the monitor.
He knows that he has a lot riding on this one. It’s not every day thatyou get to direct a superstar such as Salman.
“Salman bhai [brother] is a big star.
With a big star like him comebig expectations. You can’t do ordinary work with him. I have to do justice to his stardom,” said Sohail in an interview with tabloid!.
Looking around us, the unused carousels and the gaming arcade with machines named “Funny Fish” don’t scream extraordinary. But Sohail, who also directed his successful brother in Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya, is quick to put things into perspective.
“Wonderland is just wonderful forus. Today we are shooting an action sequence where Salman bhai takes his nephew to an amusement park and a few goons who spell trouble come by,” said Sohail. The scene we witnessed was Salman getting ridof those trouble makers with ease (would he have it any other way?) and his co-stars Tabu and Daisy looking shocked in demure, lady-like fashion.
“Basically, I have to work harder on him. I have this golden opportunity and I can’t let it go,” said Sohail. More than anyone else, he realises that his brother has a certain image to maintain. All of Salman’s recent blockbustersshow him as an indestructible hero who can knock out dozens of burly men in a flash. Should thefight gets particularly intense, his shirt magically tears, revealing a sculpted chest.
“He’s one of the few actors that are like clay. You can mould him according to your dimension or requirement of the scene. He can do action, comedy, drama. Working with him I genuinely believe that he has become an audience’s actor … he’s here to please his fans.” Nobody could have said explained the Salman phenomenon better. He’s revered by billions but his performances fail to impress critics. A leader of the non-acting star pack, Salman’sfilms often ride on his star power and attitude. They entertain effortlessly but they are never grave in their subject matter. Perhaps that’s why Sohail is deliberately vague when asked about the story behind Mental.
“It’s a righteous film. It’s a straight film and all good things are being said in the film,” said Sohail, adding that the title Mental is a working one and is open to change. He zeroed in on Wonderland as one of the key locations after spotting it from hishotel room.
He may be tight-lipped about his film but when it comes to Dubai, he can’t praise it enough.
“It’s wonderful to be here. Our first day, first shot of Mental happened in Dubai. Everybody hasbeen so helpful. The Dubai Studio City officials, Saif and Sara Belhasa have been sweet enough to arrange it all. We have a comfort level of a studio here,” said Khan. He rejected the idea of shooting in Mumbai since such shots can only be done at night.
“We wanted to shoot a action sequence that happened during the day. In Mumbai, we would have got time only during nights after mall hours,” he explained.
Plus unlike their native India, there are no fans gathering around, interrupting the shoot.
“We understand that they are fans and friends. But when they gather during our shoot time, we don’t have time to dedicate to them. This works for us wonderfully.”