If Salman Khan ever decided to make a parody of most characters he has played in recent movies, he would find that this concept was already depicted in the incredibly meta Andaz Apna Apna – a movie that almost prophetically offers glimpses of his character “Prem” both beating up the gundas to save the day and, albeit inadvertently, getting the girl. On the other hand, his character’s demeanour is largely the opposite of the characters he routinely portrays now – he plays an eager-to-please, naïve young man who gets beaten up twice, and, in what would today be a very non-Bhai thing to do, runs away from the fight.
But Prem’s lack of bravado and his role as an almost un-trusty sidekick to Aamir Khan’s “Amar” allow Salman’s splendid comic timing to shine. This comic timing would tide Khan through the early and mid-2000s but is now criminally underused in his films. Right from his banter of lies with Amar in the bus, laced with the façade of confidence, to his gradual progression from being innocently fooled to then furious at the “Do dost ek hi pyale mein chai peeyenge, isse dosti badhti hai” running gag, to his introductory scene as his doctor persona “Prem Khurana”, Rajkumar Santoshi thoroughly exploits both Salman Khan’s chemistry with Aamir Khan as well as his incredibly expressive face to bring out what is in my opinion Salman Khan’s most enjoyable performance as a vulnerable yet witty character. The metanarrative of the movie is elevated by Salman partaking in the mockery of his own past and future self. His involved yet comic performance in “Yeh Raat Aur Yeh Doori” mimics grand romantic music sequences, only in place of a high production-value set, we have here the backyard of a house as the setting. Salman also gives what I believe to be his best action sequence performance, in the fight sequence with Crime Master Gogo where they use a pretend (or very realistic, depending on how you see it) fight sequence to settle the sparring at hand.
In most of Aamir and Salman’s scenes together, my focus would often shift to Salman’s face even if Aamir was the one with the dialogues. Salman’s quirky and almost jester-like expressions throughout Aamir’s dialogues, and in practically every scene he is in, including the iconic Ram-Laxman one, worked brilliantly given the set-up of the movie – a parody of every 80s and 90s Bollywood trope – making his performance in Andaz Apna Apna, for me, his most memorable one.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.