Salman Khan

Salman Khan is set to introduce Nutan’s granddaughter Pranutan Bahl and builder friend’s son Zaheer Iqbal in “Notebook.” Khan told India-West that they are in the film because they deserved this film, not because they were children of his friends. (photo provided)

MUMBAI—He enjoys producing films that introduce promising newbies, on screen (Sonakshi Sinha) or behind the screen (Himesh Reshammiya, Sajid-Wajid, Amaal Mallik, singers and filmmakers). Salman Khan has, since 2015, made it a tradition to introduce pairs in his films – star progenies Sooraj Pancholi and Athiya Shetty in “Hero,” brother-in-law Aayush Sharma and Warina Hussein in “LoveYatri” and now Nutan’s granddaughter Pranutan Bahl and builder friend’s son Zaheer Iqbal in “Notebook.”

A last minute and rush meeting sees the megastar in quirky mode, switching between serious and naughty quicker than the click of a switch.

Excerpts from an interview:

Q: Have you seen the original movie “Teacher’s Diary?”

A (Smiles): This is a more beautiful film. As we have done a lot of work on it, I think it is better than that. We have woven a great story with the backdrop changed to Kashmir. We can’t make a Thai film here, right? If I had my way, I would shoot every film there. It is so beautiful.

Q: Do you take credit for your inputs?

A: I can’t be forced to take credit – besides, it often does not pay! (Grins) This story came to me long ago but as a hero. I thought it was a lovely story, but my image had changed! So I could not do it. I remember when Subhash Ghai-sir came to me with “Yuvvraaj” I told him I would like to do a rework of “Hero!” But I could not, so I made my own version of it later. Again my image had changed, so I took Sooraj Pancholi.

Q: How did you find your leading pair?

A: I saw an audition of Pranutan and THEN came to know who she was. So I called up her father Mohnish (Bahl), and he told me she had completed Law! “But how can I stop my child if she wants to act?” he asked. So I said, “What if I need a lawyer tomorrow?” And he replied, “You will have to find someone else!” Maybe I too should have done law to look after the cases when I landed in trouble!

Similarly, I saw Zaheer performing at his sister’s wedding. He too had ambitions in films. But both came in after due auditions and because they deserved this film, not because they were children of my friends, and because I had known them as kids.

Q: From your 31 years of experience, what would be your advice to them?

A: Simple, stay out of trouble. But then, I guess, trouble can come looking for you.

Q: You have sung a song again as in “Hero,” but you are not there.

A: Yes, the promo song is in my voice.

Q: What is more enjoyable, acting in or producing films?

A: The latter is much more hard work. I have to be hands-on in scripting, the music, the rushes and the edits. That takes a lot more energy, but I enjoy both.

Q: Are there plans to turn director later?

A (Laughs): I wanted to start my career as a director. That did not happen. Thank God!

Q: Do you write a diary like the heroine here?

A: I did start writing once but then realized that my truth might hurt other people and they would land in trouble. Next day, I rewrote it and then saw that it would land me in trouble. So I stopped writing.

Q: This film is about teachers. Who were your favorites?

A: I am still in touch with some, especially those who would beat me up! They were my favorites! One teacher, who later lived in Spain, wrote me a letter just before he passed away.

Q: Are you game for a web series?

A (Nods): Yes, I like the clean ones, not the rubbish that goes on a lot. But I guess those too are clean – the team must be taking a bath before coming on sets! (Guffaws)

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