What gives you a kick in your life?
It keeps changing, but at this point in time in my life, I want that people should have so much trust in me that they should know that agar isne keh diya na, toh he will try his best to make it happen. Secondly, that we trust him and that he will never cheat us. If he is saying something, blindly trust him. That would be perhaps the most difficult task to achieve in your lifetime. Marne ke baad toh sab log bol lete hain the man was good. But while I am alive, I want people to be able to trust me blindly. My life’s ambition is to take Being Human to such a level that a 100 years or 200 years down the line, it should be the biggest brand in the world. The actor would be forgotten, but it would be difficult for anybody to surpass this mammoth of a charitable trust. My life’s ambition is for people to know that the money goes towards charity and not towards administrative costs. I hope people from constituencies invite us to take care of their constituencies. Not as politicians, but as social workers. They should feel that yeh Being Human social party ko khada karo. They will do their best. This is the way I look at politics. Politics for me is social work.
Do you feel hurt when someone you have helped turns out to be different than what you had thought?
At one point in time, I used to feel bad that isne bewakoof banaya. But it is my fault, as I need to be smarter than them. When someone comes and fools us for money, my only regret is that the next honest person suffers. Being Human has started now in an organised way, but this stuff has been done by my father for the longest time. Our personal money would sometimes in the past go to the wrong people. Now, the money is channelised and it only goes to hospitals, doctors and schools and charitable trusts. It does not go to individuals. I still keep on trusting people and believe them for what they are telling me on face value. I feel no one out of choice will want to betray your trust. It is their own majboori that makes them do that.
What makes you give all the time?
It’s my own selfish need. My kick, my adrenaline rush. My high is to do. I have been made that way. I don’t want people to know about it, I don’t want it to be spoken about, but it is for my own personal diary. You can consider it my need or be it that I am doing it for my image or to show off or whatever reason, I have decided to do for others. I also get pissed off when after doing, you don’t see the appreciation, but I am constantly reminding myself that you must forget after doing. That is why they say neki kar, kue mein daal, as it is human tendency to take and forget. Also, I believe that if someone has come and taken something from me, it is not mine, it has come to me for him only. My life begins after I am dead. My grandson and his grandson should benefit from that. Just like my father’s great grandfather decided to leave Afghanistan with his cavalry and come to India, he has made my life. If he would not have at that time left Afghanistan, and then if my father had not taken the decision to leave Indore and come to Mumbai and then leave acting and become a writer, I would not have been here. Two days back, seeing my dad get emotional talking about his mother, I too could not control my emotion. So my dadi had the infectious lung TB. She had been moved to Nainital for 4-5 months during summer, as she could not manage in the heat due to her TB. When she came back, she had to be kept away from all her children, as it was contagious. My father had 12 siblings, of which many had died. He was just five then. She was not allowed to see her children and the doctors would come in the house wearing a mask. So one day, while sitting on the verandah, she saw some kids playing and she asked, who is that kid playing? So they told her it was her youngest son Dullu (who was my father Salim Khan). She called him. Dad came, she looked at dad from a distance only. He also stood there only. She then went into her room and my dad assumes that she must have gone and cried there like hell. He waited for 5-10 minutes and went back to play. Soon after that, she died and he never saw her again. Even after so many years, talking to me about the incident, he got tears in his eyes, thinking about what his mother must have felt knowing that even though she would not live, she could not meet or hold her son. She must have been worried about his future, what he would do, who would look after him etc. I didn’t see her, so I don’t care, but seeing my father feeling for her, I got choked. When I was in jail, dad, mum and one of my dad’s brothers had come to meet me. Daddy asked me, ‘Kaisa chal raha hai?’ I said, ‘Theek hai daddy, one bedroom suite hai Achcha hai.’ He asked, ‘Sote wote ho? Newspaper hain? Kambal hai?’ I told him, ‘Teen-chaar kambal hain, ek odhne ke liye aur do soneke liye.’ He again asked, ‘Khana peena?’ I said, ‘Mugga hai, shaving usme karleta hoon, daal usme aajati hai, bathroom vathroom bhi, chai bhi usme aajati hai.’ He said, ‘Good.’ I told him, ‘Suite hai, aao aap bhi dekhne ke liye.’ He said, ‘Tumko Mubarak.’
Listening to this conversation, my chacha started crying. Dad hears a little late and tells him ‘Tum bahar jao yaar. Rulaoge kya humko?’ One thought that I had, listening to dad’s conversation about his mother two days back, was how life takes a turn. I realised that we have enjoyed the best life with our parents. I am 48 years old and my father drinks with me, chills with me, we talk about anything. Mera bachcha agar 2-3 saal mein hoga, he will be 30 years when I am 80 and that is also if I live till then. So assume if I die at 70, he will be without a father at 15. Life is like a Bigg Boss show. I love the way life takes turns. First, I wanted to get married. Nahi hua and one by one everyone started getting married. One day Sanjay Dutt almost got me convinced about marriage. He said, ‘See, my ex-wife died. I really miss her. I have a beautiful child and she is with in-laws. I felt alone and got married to Rhea. I am saying this to you, as I want you to get married. I want you to settle down and be happy. It is like the most beautiful life. You think that once you get married, your other stuff will stop — women, party, drinks. It’s all shit. Once you come back home, you are tired, you have a glass of wine, have a candle-light dinner, so sweet it is, go for a walk, hold each other, go to sleep, hug her, kiss her, wake up in the morning. She makes breakfast. This is the kind of life’ and then suddenly, while he was talking to me, Rhea called. He said, f*** and got up. And I realised that all he told me was rubbish. I do want to have a child, but with child, the mother comes. And when the mother comes, big complications happen as I am not the husband material. I am the father type. It will be unfair for anyone to think that I will change him. I will not change. I sometimes feel surrogate type ka ho jaye, but then look how close we are to our mothers so when the kid grows up he or she will ask maa kaun? They will then think that my father for his own selfish reasons has kept us without a mother. And then my parents too would like to see my children. So it’s all very complex.
Do you feel insecure about losing your parents given your attachment and dependence on them emotionally?
No and I’ll tell you why. I believe that we 5-6 of us in our family are not together from this life alone. We have been playing father-son, mother-son, sister-daughter, brother-sister to each other life after life and we keep coming back to each other. We keep playing different relationships in every janam thinking, chalo he used to be my son earlier, now he will become my father in my next life. So we have no fear of loss, as we all will come back to each other.
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What annoys you as a person?
There is so much of pressure on an actor from the food he eats with no carbs, which makes him irritable and tired all the time, you have no sleep, you are working all the time, you have 10 different things to do, you have the press to handle, so you sometimes snap. It will happen to anybody and you can’t control that. Most of the time when an actor sees his own reaction on TV when he goes back, he feels, why did we have to give them this material and the media knows that, but they are wanting us to react so that they can carry it and make news of it. We all have some goodness and some weaknesses. As media, if you choose to show bad things that can influence the younger generation, it is a choice you make. If your objective is to show us as bad people, that also is bad as then people will see less of our films and that will impact the entertainment industry that pays so much taxes. If you are going to take pictures of stars with them smashed, eyes shutting, smoking cigarettes in the hand, we may look damn cool with this shit, but it is the wrong thing to do as people and more importantly, our kids will follow it. Why are you giving those kind of images? For you it is just a job to make money. But the larger picture is that you destroy future generations.
Do you want to give a message to photographers who want to break through the security of a celebrity to shoot them?
I do photography as well and I can tell them that the best pictures are taken from far away.