Getting Salman Khan to speak his mind is no mean feat. But there’s little you can do when you’re in the hot seat opposite leading journalist Shekhar Gupta. The actor, with the nagging throat, was at his candid best at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit with CNN-News18 in the capital where he voiced his thoughts on some of the biggest controversies plaguing the Indian film industry. The actor bared his heart out on the Padmavati controversy, what he thinks of film dynasties and cringed as he shunned the concept of the casting couch.
On the Padmavati drama
The toughest question of the event came from a student, no less, seeking Khan’s opinion on the Padmavati fiasco. Not wanting to be put in a spot, Salman returned the question asking the student to provide details of the row. But it’s noteworthy that Salman did not evade the question and neither was he subtle about it. Very unlike his peers. Taking a balanced view, he said, “It’s not fair to hurt anyone’s sentiments but it’s also not fair to comment without seeing the film. The CBFC will give the certificate and we will go with the CBFC decision.”
Not to let the opportunity pass, Shekhar probed the actor further on the leverage communities draw from controversial films, to which Salman replied, “Whenever there is a controversy, the film is definitely at a loss. Theaters don’t screen the film out of fear of damage and lose out. No film gains from a controversy.”
On a lighter note, though, he said he was offended by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. “I gave him two hits but he signed Shahrukh Khan in his next.”
Speaking of hits and misses, Shekher Gupta couldn’t help but ask Salman about the role dynasty plays in the film industry. Notice Shekhar used the word ‘dynasty’ only to be interrupted by Salman, “You mean nepotism”. “Yes”, pat came the reply from Shekhar. Again, not wanting to shy away from the question, Salman said, “A management company cannot bring success. If the person is talented, we’ll give them the film.” While the actor has helped numerous star kids with their launch, he debunked the notion that a star kid will be cast in a movie even if he possesses no talent. “The cost of production is high so these days, no one risks it,” he added.
On casting couch
Casting and talent is a sensitive topic in film industries across the globe. The last few month have opened a can of worms with regards to casting and the price actresses, and in some cases actors too, have to pay to get a role. With a full understanding that he has the ears of one of the biggest stars of the country, Shekhar asked Salman what he thinks of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Salman cringed at the thought of it, or at least that’s what it looked like. “He got caught,” was his first reaction but was quick to add, “No one has confirmed the casting couch. There may be flirting between two good looking people but I have never heard of a casting couch,” Salman said. As if there was a quick realisation that he may have gone soft on the issue, he added, “It is the most disgusting thing ever to use someone to get them work. It’s just disgusting.’
Salman Khan was in high spirits even with a hoarse voice. He spoke with equal enthusiasm about hair weaves as he did about his fear of facing the judge in court.