London: A lot has changed since the Salman Khan’s last outing as Prem. The on-screen name which remained with him in around 15 movies, was more of a mirror to his character in films, during his initial phase.
On-screen names in Bollywood, for long have had immense significance. Amitabh Bachchan as Vijay represented the angry young man, Shah Rukh Khan as Raj/Rahul was the ultimate romantic hero, Ajay Devgn retained his original name Ajay in as many as 11 movies to enforce his brooding image. Aamir Khan despite being well known as a perfectionist actor had agreed to be known as happy-go-lucky Raja in three movies such as ‘Raja Hindustani’, ‘Ishq’ and ‘Dil’.
Salman Khan as Prem depicted a shy lovable family boy, who kept family relations as a top priority.
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Starting out with Rajshri’s ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’, Salman played the Prem who was foreign educated, ‘sanskari’ boy with no vices in love with equally naive Bhagyashree.
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Participating in family ‘antakshari’ and sacrificing for the elder brother, he was the Prem in ‘Hum Aapke Hai Kaun’ while Prem in ‘Hum Saath Saath Hai’ was a dutiful brother in a loving joint family, inspired by ‘Ramayana’.
“Har family mein problems hoti hai, par khushnaseeb hote hai woh jinke paas family hoti hai (Every family has some problems, but those people are fortunate who have families),” says the new, mature dhoti-kurta clad Prem in ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’, which is the story of two brothers, as the recently released trailer suggests.
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Last we remember Salman played Prem in ‘Ready’ (2011), but except for the name everything around him had changed. Salman had risen to be the uncrowned king of the box office commanding nothing less than a fancy 100 crores. He was the naughty Prem in ‘No Entry’ and love Guru Prem in David Dhawan’s ‘Partner’. With increasing power at the box office, he outgrew the character that he started out with and has now mastered the art of capturing the market.
The vulnerability of Prem, as was seen in ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ and ‘Hum Aapke Hai Kaun’ has been lost in the process, as Salman has now became a larger than life star, a producer and a philanthropist. Over the last one decade or so, we saw Salman’s progression from an actor into a one-man-industry, who played a god father to several newcomers, mostly aspiring wannabes with illustrious surnames.
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Prem the lovable boy in overtly mushy, melodramatic family movies by Rajshri was the quintessential good Indian boy that every mother longed to have in her family. But this was only till he worked with the Barjatya’s as Prem. After which he was gripped severely by innumerable clichés that became synonymous with his on-screen persona.
In ‘Hum Apke Hain Kaun’, the real hero was Madhuri Dixit, the reigning queen of the 90s, while Salman was second to her. Rumours suggest that Madhuri used to command more remuneration than Salman and she was paid more than the actor, who was a rising star. Going shirtless as Prem was only to make the females swoon over him, while now going shirtless and mouthing one-liners is more of a compulsion.
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It has become mandatory for Salman to introduce hackneyed plots, mannerism and dialogues as that is something which the audience expect when they go to the theatre to watch him.
Unlike the other two Khans, any movie starring Salman now is only about him while the other actors including the lead actress opposite him (who would be mandatorily be more than half the age younger to him) would be merely a supporting cast. Actresses like Sonakshi Sinha, Jacqueline Fernandez, Daisy Shah, Sonam Kapoor who have been half his age play his heroine.
His loyal fans have no complaints with the inane towel dance and bombastic dialogues, which commands claps and increases the footfall in the theatres.
As Hanuman bhakt in Kabir Khan’s ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’, he gave a lesson on secularism lately and emerged as a perfect mentor of Athiya Shetty and Suraj Pancholi in ‘Hero’.
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Rajshri’s experimented with Shahid Kapoor and Sonu Sood as the new Prem on the block in their last two movies such as ‘Vivaah’ and ‘Ek Vivaah Aisa Bhi’. In ‘Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon’, there were not just one but two Prem(s), played by new kids on the block i.e. Abhishek Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan, who aimed to take the legacy forward.
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The production house, well-known for keeping the Indian traditions upright in its movies are back with their favourite Prem, played by none other their blue-eyed boy Salman Khan who has incidentally become Bollywood’s Bhaijaan.
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