Revealing about the first source of inspiration behind making this film, Salman said, “A DOP came to us with the plot of ‘Antim’. It was only the plot, from which they developed the film. While I was at the farmhouse, I even watched the film and loved the character of the cop. So I thought of looking at this film from the perspective of the cop.” For those who’re not well versed with Marathi cinema, Antim is inspired from a 2018 Marathi movie called ‘Mulshi Pattern’.
Elaborating further on the way he became a part of the ‘Antim’ saga, Salman said, “Arbaaz got to know that Mahesh Manjrekar was making a film. When I got a chance to see it, I wondered, ‘Why did they leave the cop’s character like that?’ It was about that other boy and it became an eccentric film.” And he is candid when he says that he could not be the massy hero here. He had to change. He said, “I could not play this character like ‘Dabangg’. Otherwise, I would be left doing ‘Dabangg’ only. This is a different film altogether. My character is very bound, he is very Hindustani and rugged. He doesn’t yell or shout, he is very focused on what he is doing. He will take orders and be humiliated, but he will do what he needs to do at the right time. Even if he has to sacrifice a person, he will do it for what is right. This is what I liked about this character. In the Marathi film, they just had 4-5 scenes of him.”
On the subject of remaking ‘Mulshi Pattern’ Salman had a whole other perspective. He said, “I took that plot and made a new film out of it.” The fans have loved his larger-than-life character and to that Salman said, “It is different this time. The fans will like it. There are all those facets of (my on-screen persona) but it is finally what the director wanted. It is larger than life film, but more realistic. Here, there is a certain type of character. You have all the dialogues, but it is just that this character looked best alone so we didn’t have anyone with him. The only place where he has danced is on ‘Bhai Ka birthday’.”
When asked about playing the role of a sardar and how his friends reacted to his look and character, Salman said with a smile, “They loved it! When you see the film, you realise that it is a very kadak role.” For far too long we’ve seen sardars play second fiddle or the comical sidekick, but Bhai is determined to change all that. “When you play a character, you need to look like a God and make them look like Gods,” he said and added, “When you see a sardar, their height, their gaze, they look like gods! They look like warriors. So that is what I wanted in this film.”
Rohit Shetty’s ‘Sooryavanshi’ has got people thinking of cop universes and Salman has played a policeman plenty of times before – ‘Wanted’, ‘Dabangg’, ‘Radhe’. So is he making his own cop universe? He explained, “I did think of that. I thought I was overdoing the cop roles, but I really liked the subject in ‘Antim’. I was debating whether I should do it or not, but it was stuck in my head. I was even told it was a ‘chota role’ (small role), but I disagreed. I then thought this is my film, I’m working on the script with Mahesh Manjrekar. All we did was take the plot, but it is a different screenplay and a different film altogether. It is a very lavishly mounted film. Pravin Tarde did a very good job with ‘Mulshi Pattern’, but he did it on a very small budget.”
On the subject of ‘Sooryavanshi’, Salman revealed that he was taken aback by the sensitivity shown by film critics. He added, “I was impressed with the critics this time. I don’t know how long it will last, but I felt that a certain pathos, sensibility and graciousness was there that didn’t drown that film. The reviews said that everyone should go to the theatres. If people don’t go to theatres and watch films, then what do we write about? We all depend on each other for our bread and butter.”
The conversation veered towards his ‘Antim’ co-star Aayush Sharma. Salman didn’t mince words and said, “Everyone is saying this is Aayush’s film. Aayush is in the film, but ‘picture Paji ki hi hai’ (the film belongs to the sardar).” Just yesterday, news broke out that Aayush’s impressive physique was the result of him training with Tiger Shroff and his personal trainer Rajendra Dhole. Salman added more info as he revealed, “They get along fine. They sometimes use the same gym. Aayush and Tiger keep on exchanging notes and stuff. They are close.” And on the experience of working with his brother-in-law Aayush, he said nonchalantly, “When I am working, there are no sisters, husbands, nothing matters.”
In the end, Salman had nothing but praise and love for his friend and director Mahesh Manjrekar. He said, “Mahesh is damn good! I envy this guy. He acts, directs, does photography, painting, he does it all, he even cooks very good food.” Manjrekar recently recovered from bladder cancer and Salman lauded his resilience and survival spirit. He said, “He is a fighter! He fought it. He told (cancer) ‘this is my body, get out of it’. He literally treated his cancer like this. He was shooting during his cancer treatment, too.”