By promoting one social convention defying concept in terms of man-woman relationships, Salman Khan has broken the image propagated by several of his films. Spoiler from Bharat ahead.
In 30 years of his career, Salman Khan has played a dedicated lover, righteous hero, dutiful son, always following social conventions and norms. He has been the poster boy of the Rajshri gharana of values – family first, always responsible, sacrifice yourself for your family. Fans have watched, lauded and worshipped him in those roles, and Salman has continued his career in the same trajectory.
His real life trajectory has been a little different, though. There is a long list of women he has been linked to, throughout his career, and some are said to have remained good friends with him over the years. Despite the wide options, Salman hasn’t zeroed down on one woman. “When will Salman Khan get married?” is probably the most asked question in B-Town.
A few days back, it emerged in an interview, that Bhai doesn’t hold the institution of marriage in high regard. The actor, who had once said on Koffee With Karan that he is saving himself for the woman he marries, recently said, “I don’t believe in marriage. I think it’s a dying institution. I don’t believe in it. Companionship? Yes.”
It was probably yet another statement to promote his latest Eid release Bharat. Salman (Bharat) and Katrina Kaif (Kumud) meet and fall in love in ’70s India. Romantic songs are sung, love-filled looks are exchanged. Salman treats Katrina with a certain amount of reverence, not just because she is his employer, but also because he is that kind of a man, who respects women.
He is too shy to profess his love, so Kumud has to take the first step. There begins the departure from the ‘Dabangg’ Salman we are used to seeing, who is way more brazen when it comes to matters of the heart.
Kumud, or Madam Sir, as Bharat calls her, announces in public that she is in love with him, but he is hesitant to get into a relationship. He is still the dutiful son, who will sacrifice his own happiness to fulfill his duties towards his family. Although it isn’t clear why marrying would prevent him from fulfilling his promise to his father – that he will always take care of his family. But this is a Salman Khan movie, and some questions are best left unasked.
So, Kumud has to take matters into her own hand once again, and introduce herself to Bharat’s family. It is decided among the family, with the mother’s consent, that if Bharat cannot marry, they could always live together. Salman’s voiceover at this point says that this was probably the first live-in relationship in independent India that was family-approved.
Although Bharat and Kumud do get married in the end (because there is only so much social convention that you can defy), the moment where Sonali Kulkarni (playing Bharat’s mother) gleefully agrees to a live-in relationship in the midst of her daughter’s wedding ceremony, is not just rare, it is also a bit inconceivable. We’re not sure even the term live-in was known in ’70s India, let alone be an acceptable concept among the middle class.
By introducing and embracing the concept, Salman sure has taken a bold step in his latest film. And by portraying himself as a shy man in front of an independent, outspoken woman, he has let his leading lady take a step forward from being the lead actor’s shadow, like in most films.
Who would have imagined the Prem of Hum Saath Saath Hain and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo to become the propagator of live-in relationships one day?