Lights, cameras, a grand ballroom and a bevy of Facebook-ready scribes! The stage is set for a regular Bollywood press conference in Dubai! Enter Salman Khan with the team of Freaky Ali. There is cheering, there is applause and, above all, the hope of a selfie, the ultimate marker of one’s attendance at such Bollywood events. Once the mass hysteria settles in, it’s time to talk business! And who better to do it than our Bollywood stars when they set out to promote their films. As Salman, Sohail, Arbaaz and Nawazuddin talk Freaky Ali, we make an attempt to read between the lines!
We may have anointed him Bhai, but Salman Khan has not exactly been the media’s darling. Every Bollywood journalist has a version of Salman – either he is chatty or he is indifferent, either he is brooding or he is playful! The Salman that has come to promote Freaky Ali in Dubai is jolly! It does not take us by surprise. If a 300 crore hit does not bring you happiness, chances are nothing will. At the conference, Salman knows the spotlight will inadvertently be on him, yet he graciously takes the backseat and lets Team Freaky Ali do the talking! He knows when to intervene and how! For instance, when a Pakistani journalist, in his flawless Urdu, asks Amy Jackson when will she acquire fluency in Hindi, the Bhai in Salman comes to her rescue. “Aap English main poochiye, yeh Hindi main batayengi,” he jokes. Once a Bhai, always a Bhai!
Arbaaz and Sohail Khan
What do we talk about when we talk about Arbaaz and Sohail Khan? Their collaborations with Salman Khan. The two have found a foothold in filmmaking and production whilst taking turns to work with their superstar brother (think Hello Brother, Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya, the Dabangg franchise). With Freaky Ali, they return to their comfort zone --- comedy. Though Sohail is hopeful about the bankability of a talent like Nawaz, Arbaaz is more measured in his assessment. “Smaller films are more risky at times because they require as much concentration and effort --- to get the visibility at a time when the publicity budgets are high. That’s why content has to be the king,” says Arbaaz. We couldn’t agree more!
The last time he appeared on the big screen, Nawazuddin Siddiqui gave us jitters. Understandably then, Freaky Ali comes as a much needed breather. Measured, shy and as grounded as ever, he tells us he embraced Ali with the same passion with which he internalised Ramana and Dashrath Manjhi. Drawing parallels with his own rise to fame, he reminisces how his personal journey to stardom is not all that different as compared to Ali’s. This kinship between his own life and the character has led to some of the most humorous scenes in the film. However, that’s not the only high point for Nawaz. As he points out during the press con, ‘‘After doing this film, I feel quite light because for the first time, I got such a beautiful actress. I have now tasted blood. Hereon, I will only do romantic films.’’ Clearly, being in the company of Salman Khan has had an impact!
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