Famous for his many blockbuster films, Khan, 48, was in Dubai for the premiere of his latest cinematic offering, Jai Ho. The Hindi-language film delivers weighty social messages along with action sequences and dance numbers. “It’s about positive forces overcoming the negative,” Khan said, while describing his role as a normal man who is tested when he takes on a corrupt politician. “It’s what people are going through because we’ve stopped taking a stand and we let people push us. This film says if something is going wrong, don’t let it happen.
“The most difficult thing to do is film a movie with a message because messages can be boring, preachy,” said Khan, addressing the core storyline of Jai Ho. “Even if you mean well, it may seem like you’re a fraud. To get the right message across in commercial cinema is difficult.” During a conference on Wednesday night, Khan, who is not always a hit with critics but has a considerable fan following, repeated his favourite dialogue from the film. The actor asked fans to abide by the words: “If you feel that I have helped you, don’t thank me. Instead, help three other people and tell them to do the same.” Directed by his brother, Sohail Khan, the film features a newcomer, Daisy Shah, and the well-known actors Tabu and Danny Denzongpa.
Jai Ho – its tagline reads: “With good action at times comes an evil reaction. Take a stand. Time to stop evil” – was subject to several cuts, with scenes focusing on dishonest politicians removed by India’s Central Board of Film Certification. Despite its release coinciding with India’s upcoming general elections, Khan insisted the film did not endorse or oppose any political party. The actor was recently criticized by India’s media for flying kites with the Hindu nationalist leader, Narendra Modi, the chief minister of western Gujarat state and the prime ministerial candidate for the Bharatiya Janata Party. Mr Modi has often been accused of doing little to stop religious riots in Gujarat in 2002, and has rejected criticism that his government did not do enough to stop the violence.
In Dubai, Khan stood his ground when asked about the meeting. “We were flying kites, so why should anyone get upset? “We [actors] go to different places to promote our movies. Mr Modi is the chief minister of a state. We have our judicial system, they have let him go scot-free. The CBI [India’s Central Bureau of Investigation] gave him a clean chit. So why should I not play kites with him?” Khan believed Jai Ho would speak for him. In one scene, sporting bright red sunglasses, the actor dances to the powerful beat of drums in a song that conveys that all is not well in India. And the soundtrack, including songs such as Everything Else is First Class, is already a hit in India.