The much endearing ‘Prem’ is back to woo the nation. Prem Ratan Dhan Payo has definitely been one of the most awaited films of the year and how can it not be! A Sooraj Barjatya and Salman Khan combination is definitely something no one would want to miss. It was obvious thus, that mister Khan would be up on display for a bit. As we caught up with him at Mehboob Studio and sat outside his van, just like he likes it, we spoke about Rajshri, Sooraj and being Prem. Sir Khan adores his director and admits no one can make cinema like Sooraj does. Read on to know everything you need to know about Salman’s Prem and their relationship.

Salman Khan in a still from Prem Ratan Dhan Payo

Salman Khan in a still from Prem Ratan Dhan Payo

Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is a film you are doing with Sooraj after years. Has it strengthened your friendship with him?

Well, the friendship is the same as it was earlier. It is just that we don’t get time to spend together. I am busy with my work and he is busy with his. But when there’s a film, we get a chance to spend a lot of time together on the sets. So that’s a nice feeling definitely. Ours is a really old friendship. We’ve known each other since the age of 19 so it is a very old connection that we share.

Do you see a difference in the working style?

Not at all. Nothing has changed in him: neither his personality nor his temperament. It is just that he has become a ten times more nobler soul than what he was earlier. He has grown.

While you gave Sooraj Pancholi a chance in his life, there was another Sooraj who gave you your big chance. Are you as thankful to Rajshri as he is to you?

My life started with Rajshri and Raj Babu. For me, I always wanted to work. You wouldn’t get work so easily until you were 18-19 back then. You could get some small shows and commercials but real work that forms your career and future was very difficult to get. I didn’t know if I’d become an actor or a writer or get into direction. Basically I didn’t know where would life go. Once Maine Pyar Kiya came out and it did well, the path cleared a little for me. But that struggle, the struggle from 17 to 19 was a never ending struggle and that I still have in mind. I may go late to shoots or interviews but I will never take a holiday. I just don’t take holidays. Because I think life is a holiday. I enjoy what I do. My whole life is a holiday and I work everyday. I remember that it was just yesterday when I didn’t have any work in life and had so many uncertainties, and now everybody is appreciating that work. Its not about me now. Everyday that I go to work, there are so many people earning their daily wages from that. So for that, I ensure that no matter what, I get up and go to work.

Sooraj Barjatya’s movies are usually shot in the house. 

Sooraj is best in the house! (Smiles) He knows family values so well that when Sooraj is in the house, no one can touch him. That is the reason why we have that connect. And I think that’s the reason why these kind of films do well also, because everyone has that connect. If no one had this connect, these films won’t do well. But very few people have the courage to do such films. They look like they are  simple films to make but actually they are really difficult films to make.

With Sonam in a still from Prem Ratan Dhan Payo

With Sonam in a still from Prem Ratan Dhan Payo

You’ve said that you are no longer the same Prem. Did you have to unlearn anything for this film to get back into the character?

When I heard the whole script once again, honestly, it all started coming back. I mean not as an actor but as a person. As an actor you fulfill any job but for a film like Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, you don’t need to be an actor. You need to be yourself. What I am at home is exactly what I’ve been in this film. It’s a very naughty character. It’s a full on character!

What is it about Sooraj that makes you feel that he makes you a better person?

He makes us all a better person. When we do films, we put our sunglasses in the back, do a “belt dance” but in a Sooraj Barjatya film, you get back the culture. You get back the niceness in your heart. He changes you as a person. When you go into the theatre and come out of the theatre, you are a happier person. He is the only director in this country who can do this. And I don’t think a lot of people in Hollywood can change people’s thinking around. They may be able to do it in a documentary but in a movie, it’s really difficult especially in a simple story.

Is it the same Prem as who he was twenty years back?

He is naughtier. He has grown up. He was a boy then. I was wondering when Raj babu sees the film, what will he have to say! (Laughs) He has got a great side to him. The dignity is intact. The humor is there but its not disrespectful. The respect for elders is there. He’s kidding with them as well and enjoying but he’s respectful. When you see the film you will like the character. He doesn’t cross the line.

How was it like working with Sonam Kapoor?

She looked beautiful in the film. Even when she was not going through a good phase in her career, one amazing thing she did was that she took care of herself. That is the most difficult time to take care of yourself. Another difficult time to take care of yourself is when you are going through a damn good phase. And she’s capable of taking care of herself in both the phases.

-Shivangi Lahoty