On a Dabangg high

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He first made his way into public consciousness with a controversial ad for a coffee brand, along with then upcoming model Malaika Arora. After a chequered career as an actor, Arbaaz Khan recreated himself as the producer of Dabangg.

And now, he’s ready for an even more significant phase of his career: becoming a director with Dabangg 2. He talks to us about bade bhaiyya Salman, branding opportunities and more.

Congratulations on your new innings as a director with Dabangg 2. What does it feel like?
I’m making my debut as a director and it feels exactly how it did when I made a debut as an actor. I’m not nervous, but anxious to see the reactions. I have put a lot at stake.

Are you talking about money?
More than money, it’s my name and Salman’s star value. For a long time now, he has been giving back-to-back hits. I hope I don’t let him down. That is my biggest worry.

Dabangg, Bodyguard, Dabangg 2 and now Sohail Khan’s next film — one gets the feeling that Salman is now focusing on films produced by his siblings.
I know people are talking about us keeping him busy round the clock. Honestly, that’s not true. It’s just that the last few films that he has done are produced by our family.
Salman is capable of turning down a script if doesn’t like it. There is no pressure on him from me, Alvira or Sohail. He is free to work with whoever he wants to.
Salman is rumoured to be extremely involved in filmmaking. Did he ever interfere or become intimidating during the making of Dabangg 2?
Not at all. Salman does offer his suggestions, but there is never any pressure to incorporate them in the film. On the sets, he is an actor and I’m the director. And that’s how it worked throughout the process of making Dabangg 2. I’d like to clarify that contrary to the rumours, Salman hasn’t ghost-directed Dabangg 2.

After the high profile families of the film industry building themselves as a brand, is the Khan family consciously working towards making themselves the biggest brand in the business?
There isn’t any conscious effort. We just go with the flow. I guess people are talking about it now because we are always seen together at various events. And honestly, Salman and the rest of the Khan family had established themselves as a brand years ago. It’s the success of our films that have put us in the spotlight and the media glare. From our father to Helen aunty and the rest of the family — everyone has been involved in various aspects of filmmaking. So it established that we are one of the biggest brands (in Bollywood) as a family.

It took a while but (after that very early ad for MR Coffee) looks like Malaika and you are now ready to promote yourself as a couple in the ad world a la Kareena Kapoor-Saif Ali Khan and Gauri-Shah Rukh Khan?
For years, I’ve always been extremely shy and low profile. But now I think it’s about time that both Malaika and I take centerstage. The competition isn’t with Kareena-Saif or any other star couple — I’m now ready to package ourselves as a brand in the ad world.

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