NEW DELHI — Right from his Bollywood debut in 'Biwi Ho To Aisi' 27 years ago (which was declared a flop), Salman Khan has led a roller coaster life. Big romances, dramatic breakups, smashing blockbuster hits and washed out, pitiful flops — the 49-year-old actor is known to live large.
At age 24, he "arrived" in the Hindi film industry with the hit 'Maine Pyaar Kiya' — his second film and first lead role — earning him his first Filmfare award. What followed was a string of films ranging from mediocre to damp squibs, with an occasional blockbuster like 'Saajan', 'Hum Aapke Hain Kaun', 'Karan Arjun' or 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' sandwiched in between.
A still from the film 'Maine Pyaar Kiya'
But whether his movies have done well in the box office or not, Khan, affectionately called 'Bhai' (brother) by his fans, has always had a dedicated following. Known for his well-sculpted muscles, he has been an idol to generations of young male fans thronging gyms across the country in a bid to copy his buffed physique. His style statements — unbuttoned shirts, waxed chest hair, hairstyles (even the ridiculous middle parting from his film 'Tere Naam') — are followed eagerly in big cities, small towns and villages in India. When his character in 'Dabangg' wore his sunglasses perched on his shirt collar at the back, it sent fans scrambling for aviators.
When he forayed into television as a host for a reality show, his legion of fans turned on their TVs every night to watch him banter with contestants on Bigg Boss. Despite his scramble with the law, as well as controversies surrounding his romantic liaisons — he has been repeatedly accused of physically and mentally abusing women he has dated over the years — his following has only grown.
A still from his film 'Dabangg'
In 1998, Khan, along with a few other Bollywood stars, was accused of hunting and killing two blackbucks which are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act. The actor was at the time shooting for 'Hum Saath Saath Hain' in Jodhpur, which went on to gross over 28 crores at the box office. A final verdict in the 16-year-old case is still awaited.
He has been rumoured to have smashed a Coke bottle over long-term girlfriend Somy Ali's head (which she has denied), as well as physically and mentally abusing Aishwarya Rai, who he dated for a few years until it ended in a bitter breakup. He was also reported to have beaten up then-girlfriend Katrina Kaif on a film set for wearing "revealing" clothes, which director Kabir Khan partially confirmed.
Shah Rukh Khan (R) and Salman Khan (L) are embraced by politician Baba Siddiqui (C) at an Iftar party in Mumbai late July 21, 2013.
Equally troubled has been some of his relationships with male colleagues in the Bollywood film industry. He has allegedly threatened actor Vivek Oberoi, who dated Rai after Khan. In 2008, he had a fight with Shah Rukh Khan during a party. A couple of years later, his dismissive comment on Hrithik Roshan's film 'Guzaarish' led to tension between the two actors. Other controversies included a financial spat between him and John Abraham, and a showdown between him and filmmaker Subhash Ghai. However, he is known to have settled matters with most of these actors, though he still shares a tumultuous relationship with Shah Rukh, his co-star in their early years in Bollywood.
His political affiliations too have come under sharp criticism, ranging from his participation in former Sri Lanka president Mahinda Rajapakse's electoral campaign, to his close association with then-Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. Khan even had a fatwa issued against him for attending a Ganesh Puja celebration in 2008, and then again for assenting to a statute of his being put up at Madam Tussaud's.
Salman Khan on Wednesday was found guilty of killing one man and injuring four others when he ran over them while driving his car in a drunken state. He was given interim bail within hours of the verdict on Wednesday. Reaction from his fan base has been mixed following his conviction in the case.