There’s a line in Salman Khan’s Kick that goes, ‘Dil Mein Aata Hoon, Samajh Main Nahi.’ This can also be said of the actor’s films, especially his Eid releases. These movies are written specifically for Bhai fans, for them to hoot and throw coins at the screen while the superstar saves the world.
Since his big release Wanted in 2009, a Salman film has become a part and parcel of Eid celebrations. It’s also a prosperous time for theatre owners. With the Covid pandemic shutting theatres, there won’t be an Eid release (Radhe) this year. Instead fans can relive these classic moments of Salman being Salman in these hit Eid releases.
The most rousing moment in Prabhu Deva’s Wanted doesn’t even feature Salman actively. When Gani Bhai (Prakash Raj) kills Shrikant Shekhawat’s (Vinod Khanna) adopted son in front of him, the latter declares that his real son Rajveer Shekhawa is still out there. Rajveer Shekhawat IPS, Indian Police Service, batch no 57, Cadet no 32576, trained at Dehradun, Topper of the batch… As he says these words aloud, as though he is reading out lines from the holy books that had been written about the messiah, we get a yellow-tinted montage from the past that shows what a fool he has made out of us. He is none other than Radhe, a low-level (albeit charming) gangster. He has been undercover and he will avenge his father’s death.
It’s been 10 years since Dabangg released and one can still hear the collective cheering and hooting that erupted during this climactic duel between Chulbul Pandey and bad guy Chedi Singh (Sonu Sood). Chulbul has just learnt that Chedi has killed his mother. He’s filled with rage. His biceps begin to magically expand causing his white shirt to rip bit by bit. Ultimately it flies off his body, laying bare Bhai’s chiselled abs, which was clearly the whole point of this scene. This is Salman’s own Hulk moment. It’s ridiculous and great fun.
A Salman Khan movie must have a dramatic entry for the star and a killer punch line. Bodyguard achieves both these goals in its first 10 minutes. We first see Salman’s feet in slow motion and then the camera inches up to his biceps. He then announces, “Mujhpe ek ehsaan karna, ki mujhpe koi ehsaan na karna.” We don’t know who he’s saying this to and why. But who cares. With lyrics like “Sabse hot, sabse hard” and “sabki aan, sabki shaan”, the introduction song that follows is meant to tell the audience about the many virtues of his character Lovely Singh, though it sounds more like a love letter to Salman the superstar.
Ek Tha Tiger
Super spy Tiger is on a globe-trotting mission to save his country. At this point he’s chasing down an enemy inside a train in Dublin. But first he must save the scared passengers inside the speeding train that’s headed for a crash. Tiger swiftly jumps onto the roof of the train and stops it with his blazer (this needs to be seen to be understood). But this is routine stuff for Tiger. He doesn’t make a big fuss over it. When the train halts, Salman casually brushes the dust off his blazer and walks off with a swagger.
Salman is a superhero in every film, but here he actually gets to wear a costume. His costume is a flimsy eye mask and yet no one seems to figure his identity. He calls himself Devil, but of course, has a heart of gold. This scene, like the earlier train one, just exists to reaffirm that no one can trump Bhai. Devil is also eco-friendly. He has outsmarted cops even though he is on a cycle and they have fancy bikes. He comes really close to be crushed by a train but obviously he cheats death in true Bhai style.
The last scene of this movie defies logic on every possible level but we bet you couldn’t hold back the tears when you saw it. That’s because the entire moment is designed to manipulate you into weeping. A mute Pakistani girl suddenly finds her voice just as she sees her saviour Bajrangi limp across the border to go back to India. Her first words are ‘Jai Shri Ram’, something she’s picked up from the god fearing Bajrangi. Only a Bollywood film could have the audacity to pull this off and only an actor with a larger than life presence like Salman can make you buy into it.
This is a rare moment of vulnerability in a Salman film. Sultan, a former wrestling champion, wants to get back in the game. But he’s older, a lot less nimble on his feet, and has a paunch sticking out. It’s not often that we see an out of shape Salman on screen and that’s what made this scene special. Director Ali Abbas Zafar told Film Companion that it took him three months to prepare the actor for this moment.
Anil Kapoor has just escaped an assassination attempt and his kids are at his killer’s den to take revenge. His eldest son Sikandar, played by Salman, is for no explicable reason sitting at the edge of the roof of a high rise building in a strange flying suit. He gets a premonition that his siblings are in trouble, spreads his arms, and takes off like an aircraft. The VFX is really dodgy and seeing him fly like a bird across the sky looks less heroic and more hilarious.