Some of the major controversies that have enshrined Salman Khan as Bollywood’s bad boy
Salman Khan arrives at a court to hear the verdict in the long-running wildlife poaching case against him in Jodhpur on April 5, 2018.
Accused of killing a homeless man, hunting endangered wildlife and assaulting a former Miss World, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan’s off-screen life is almost as dramatic as the epics he stars in.
As the Hindi cinema icon is jailed for five years for killing rare antelopes, here are some of the other major controversies that have enshrined Khan as Bollywood’s bad boy.
In the file photo of January 13, 2006, Salman Khan arrives at the Rajasthan Highcourt in Jodhpur. AFP
Khan was in a vehicle in Mumbai, the home of Bollywood cinema, in 2002 when it mounted the curb and killed a homeless man sleeping on the pavement.
File photo shows Salman Khan, with his father Salim Khan and mother Sushila alias Salma, leaving for the court to hear the verdict on the 2002 hit-and-run case in Mumbai. PTI
He was found guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced to five years in prison, but the verdict was overturned in a higher court in 2015. His acquittal is being challenged in the Supreme Court.
Miss World scandal
Khan, who has never married, was accused of assaulting former Miss World Aishwarya Rai during a closely-watched relationship which ended more than a decade ago.
Salman Khan with Aishwarya Rai in the film ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’
The superstar denied ever hitting the Bollywood actress and dismissed rumours about their high-profile liaison, including that he threatened to jump off the roof of her apartment during a heated argument.
In 2015, Khan sparked outrage when he urged India’s top court to spare the life of a bomb plotter convicted over a series of blasts that killed hundreds in Mumbai.
Protesters rallied outside his home after Khan declared the man innocent, but the Bollywood action hero later retracted his remarks under a hailstorm of criticism.
Salman Khan arrives at the court for a hearing in allegations on Black Buck hunting case, in Jodhpur on Thursday. PTI
A year later Khan was back in hot water over another insensitive quip, this time likening his intense training schedule for a film to feeling “like a raped woman”.
India’s National Commission for Women demanded Khan apologise for the “reprehensible” remarks. Khan mused that he should talk less to stay out of trouble. His father, Bollywood screenwriter Salim Khan, made an apology of sorts on his son’s behalf.
Indian police in 2016 charged Salman Khan’s bodyguard for illegal possession of a firearm and assaulting a waiter at a pub in Mumbai.
The bodyguard, Gurmeet Singh Jolly has worked with Khan for decades and is known to be a close confidante of the controversial superstar.
In 2013, Khan – who today remains unmarried at 52 – straight-faced declared on national television that he was a virgin and saving himself for his future bride.
The interviewer, stunned by the incredulity of this confession, asked about the coterie of beautiful women with whom Khan was often seen fraternising. The buff bachelor replied they were all just friends.
No outrage harms Bollywood bad boy Khan
The high point of nearly every Salman Khan film is when he rips off his shirt sparking frenzy among Bollywood audiences, but his millions of fans could soon be missing their macho fix.
File photo: Salman Khan with his father Salim Khan at their residence in Mumbai.
Khan, son of celebrated screen writer Salim Khan, has been jailed for five years for shooting endangered wildlife nearly 20 years ago.
But like the earlier brushes with scandal, it is unlikely to wound his reputation.
The Indian superstar’s latest blockbuster “Tiger Zinda Hai” (Tiger Is Alive) has made $85 million worldwide, underpinning his popularity.
Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif in ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’
According to Forbes, Salman Khan made $37 million in 2017, coming in at number nine on its list of the world’s highest paid actors, one position below fellow Bollwood star Shah Rukh Khan.
His 2016 movie “Sultan”, in which Khan played an ageing wrestler, notched up one of the highest-grossing opening weekends in Hindi cinema history, proving that for his legions of fans the body-building actor known as “Bhai”, Hindi for “brother”, can do no wrong.
The actor has a cult-like status in star-obsessed India. Most of his devotees are young men who envy his glamorous lifestyle.
They are largely from the urban masses around India who eke out a living in Mumbai and other cities but dream of more.
They emulate his Bollywood big hair and wear pirated T-shirts emblazoned with Khan’s charity “Being Human”. At weekends they gather outside his home where Khan waves from his balcony.
Khan has never married, which has only augmented his offscreen aura.
Bollywood film industry analyst Komal Nahta said the conviction and any jail term would only delay movies but not seriously harm his career.
“He is a superstar whose films guarantee huge box office numbers,” Nahta said. “A jail term might affect a few films that are in the pipeline.”
“These films can wait as they have not yet begun production and at present it would only mean a loss of time rather than money investment.”
“He has always been the poster boy of a large section of the youth population,” filmmaker Nikkhil Advani, who directed Khan in the 2007 romantic drama “Salaam E Ishq”, said.
A record breaker
Khan has starred in more than 100 films and television shows since his first hit “Maine Pyar Kiya” (I Fell in Love) in 1989. He has been named best actor at the Bollywood Filmfare awards 11 times since 1990.
Bhagyashree and Salman Khan in ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’.
He breaks records nearly every year, defying the controversy that has dogged his personal life.
Khan was sentenced to five years’ jail in 2002 for killing a homeless man in a late-night hit-and-run crash. That was overturned in 2015 but the acquittal is now being challenged in the Supreme Court.
Khan spent a week in prison in 1998 when first accused of using unlicensed arms to shoot the black buck.
His image also took a hit when he was accused of assaulting former Miss World and Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai during a relationship which ended more than a decade ago. Khan has denied ever hitting any women.
Director Kabir Khan, who worked with Khan on “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”, one of his most acclaimed movies, believes his misdemeanours hint at a “vulnerability” that audiences relate to.
“He makes politically incorrect statements but that seems to endear him to audiences who see him the way he is,” he told AFP.
“He’s immensely popular because he wears his heart on his sleeve, he’s a bad boy and a brat, but then he does all this good work with Being Human.
“His fans stand by him and overlook many of his indiscretions by saying his heart is in the right place.”
Khan describes himself as a “humanitarian” on his Twitter profile and filmmaker Advani believes his “image makeover” has helped him persuade fans “to feel that he was always misunderstood and somewhat scapegoated”.
Khan’s following has been enhanced by his hosting of the Indian version of reality TV show “Big Brother”. He has also won praise for taking on difficult roles, such as “Sultan”, where his weight fluctuates wildly.
“He isn’t just playing safe and holding on to the success, unlike some of his peers,” said Kabir Khan.