After the stupendous success of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, director Kabir Khan and Salman Khan are back again with Tubelight. He tells Express that one will get to see a different Salman that we have never seen before.
You won the National Award for Kabul Express and Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Will it be a hat-trick this time?
Films have a life of their own; once it’s made, it’s out of our hands. It’s now for the audiences to give it love or not.
An absurd title like Tubelight?
My titles are strange. People were surprised with the title of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, but it was a reflection of what my film was. Even Salman was not happy with the title, but he finally went ahead with it.
How different was the equation with Salman after Bajrangi Bhaijaan?
The same. We understood each other well and we were on the same page during Bajrangi Bhaijaan. We had a great relationship with Tubelight too. The pressure for him as a star doubled where he had to shed the entire baggage of being the big action star and epitome of machismo and then being the child-man. He has pulled it off.
Salman’s one child quality?
He wears his heart on his sleeve. There’s nothing going on in his mind you cannot see, what he feels it shows on his face. There are no hidden agendas. He’s a very affectionate and warm person. He’s an open book.
Your differences with Salman.
I’d be brain dead if the actor would do anything I want without raising questions. We had clashes during Ek Tha Tiger, Bajrangi... and Tubelight, but we understood each other. That’s why we are working together.
Sohail Khan is also in Tubelight. How was the bonding between the brothers?
It was fun. The two brothers are very close and the bonding is great even on screen. Showing the love between the two was easy for me as a director. The emotional moments are many and take a different meaning when you see them in the film.
Any Friday jitters for Tubelight?
I don’t take pressure. If I had taken the pressure of Ek Tha Tiger, I would have done another action film. I don’t let the success of my film bog me down.
Was it important to have a Chinese heroine (Zhu Zhu)?
She is a Chinese character and the backdrop is the Indo-China war. I didn’t want to take an Indian and make her Chinese, as it would look fake. Zhu Zhu fit the role.
War has always been the backdrop of your films. Does it fascinate you?
More than war, it’s conflict. It’s because of my experiences as a documentary filmmaker. I have worked extensively in conflict zones—Bosnia, Kashmir, Afghanistan. I understand how the human mind works in conflict zones, where certain traits of your personality come to the fore, which don’t in normal life. It’s important to have real context in my films. Now I am doing a series on Azad Hind Fauj, based from 1942 to 1944 when INA was formed at the end of World War II.