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Salman Khan’s family is no stranger to wrestling, says Ali Abbas Zafar

Published : Jul 4, 2016, 11:11 pm IST
Updated : Jul 4, 2016, 11:11 pm IST

Here’s the real reason why Salman Khan went out of his way to make Sultan a wrestlers’ guide to victory.

Ali Abbas Zafar
 Ali Abbas Zafar

Here’s the real reason why Salman Khan went out of his way to make Sultan a wrestlers’ guide to victory. “Salman comes from a family of wrestlers,” reveals Sultan director, Ali Abbas Zafar, whose earlier box office outings include Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and Gunday.

Zafar is perhaps the youngest director that Salman Khan has worked with recently. He admits that he couldn’t believe his ears when the megastar agreed to be part of his film. “I went to him for a narration. He heard me for 30 minutes and said it sounded good. After that everything fell into place,” he recalls.

The director clearly feels strongly about wrestling. “I love outdoor sports. Wrestling is very Indian and unlike boxing it’s not about hurting your opponent. It’s not a bloodied sport. It’s about felling your opponent through technique.”

Zafar is blown by his actor’s dedication on the job and off it too. He continues, “I don’t think Salman has given so much of himself to any film so far. He practised mixed martial arts for two months and by the end of that time, he knew every move in the akhada. It was like shooting choreographed fights. Salman also gained and lost huge amounts of weight in very little time. There were days when he would visit the doctor before coming to the shoot. The doctor would advise him against shooting, then I’d also offer to cancel the shoot, but he’d insist that we carry on as planned.”

But there’s more to Salman’s fascination for wrestling. “You see, Salman’s family is no stranger to wrestling. Some of Salim saab’s cousins in his hometown Indore were wrestlers. As a child Salman watched them in the akhada. So he knows the wrestlers’ moves.”

Zafar lights up at the mention of Salman’s family too. “For the entire shooting spell of Sultan, Salim saab and Salman’s family adopted me as one of their own. My parents are in Dehradun. But I never felt like I was alone in Mumbai. I could come and go as and how I wanted to in their home. Salman is like an elder brother to me now. He guided me. Not once during the shoot did he make me feel small. He surrendered completely to the part. He learnt the Haryanvi language. He lost and put on weight. I get goosebumps when I see that sequence where he stands in front of the mirror staring at his paunch.”

So did he have a fanboy moment on the set “There are no masks and pretences when you’re dealing with him. He doesn’t change into a different person when two people walk into the room. He is absolutely genuine.”