Flagged by his trusty bodyguard Shera, his manager Reshma and sister Alvira, Salman Khan sauntered into the press conference with his humour in tow for a change, and why not, considering the concept he is currently promoting in Dubai is not just another plug for an upcoming Bollywood potboiler, but a cause that is very dear to his heart.
The actor has officially launched his Being Human merchandise in the UAE at Splash and Iconic outlets, after months of speculation, with further plans to even launch a chapter for the charitable trust on these very shores that could one day help the plight of labourers in local camps.
Emirates 24|7 caught up the with star to talk charity, starry collaborations and even possibly burying the hatchet with old foes [take a hint Shah Rukh Khan and Viveik Oberoi] for the greater good.
-What is Being Human and what inspired you to create a charitable brand such as this?
-Salman Khan: My parents. The idea was given birth to by my parents and we turned it into charitable trust that my parents could be a part of.
They continue to inspire me, as do my sisters, my manager Reshma...
As for why I created a charitable trust [gets up to show his empty pockets], it’s because I had no money and needed to find some.
-How does the Being Human Foundation business model work? How do you recover the costs incurred?
-We have zero admin cost currently, because those involved in it are family. It is a charitable trust and like every such business model we ensure our cost is as little as possible. We don’t spend any money from the proceeds but rather 100 per cent of the profits go into the foundation.
-Who does Being Human NOT help?
-We most certainly don’t treat those who suffer from the common cold, and neither do we treat those who need miracles; we believe God can only help them.
And we are not in the business to get anyone married, especially since my parents were married in just Rs60 and giving that much of a handout is just not done (laughs).
We help those who need to study further and we use money where we can save a life.
-Will we only see the brand’s apparel line in stores in Dubai or are other merchandising also expected soon?
-We will be retailing watches in the next two months across Splash and Iconic stores and even the apparel line will expand to include women and children in the same period. I will also bring my paintings here.
-As the charitable trust is based in India, proceeds of the sales would be helping the underprivileged there. Can we expect a local chapter soon to possibly help local communities, especially labourers who may be exploited here or need financial assistance?
-We are looking at registering the Being Human Charitable trust here very soon. Once that happens, we will also look into helping local labour communities and assisting them as and when needed.
-Can you confirm if the Being Human brand will expand further into a food retail concept? And if so, what is the timeframe for this venture?
-I can confirm that yes, I am looking at expanding the brand into a chain of restaurants or team up with an existing brand on a profit sharing model. I am currently searching for like-minded individuals who are willing to give up a large share of their money to me.
-Will the restaurant chain find its way to the UAE too?
-We will go anywhere where the idea is sound and we can make money.
-Considering you and fellow actor Aamir Khan are such good friends, have you two ever discussed a joint collaboration of his TV show “Satyamev Jayate” and the Being Human Foundation to benefit a single cause?
-We are friends but not that good friends (laughs). But yes, Aamir and I are very good friends and has done a damn good job with his TV show. And while we haven’t discussed a collaboration, Aamir has been a staunch supporter of Being Human, wearing out t-shirts, promoting our merchandise and even walking the ramp for our fashion show even when he never does any of this.
-As you are notorious for guarding your privacy fiercely, how do you deal with the constant extra attention that comes with running such a charitable organisation and opening up your life to scrutiny?
-You know, it is very difficult to promote a film: you talk about having chemistry with a leading lady to the media, when there is none; you talk about a script; you talk about the producer and how much money he has spent.
But promoting Being Human is even more difficult because it all falls on me I don’t like to talk about my personal life.
So I use the website to praise ourselves and dodge such questions.
-Don’t you like being hands-on and seeing through any cause you pick up until the very end?
-No. I am not there to see reactions. We help those needing heart surgeries, cataract operations, cancer patients, among others. But I don’t want to be there in the end when these treatments are successful. I don’t want any thanks.
My only job is to ensure these people get their treatment done by the best doctors.
Superstardom is such that it can go to your head and you start believing things you are not. I don’t want that for me.
-How are you tackling the growing menace of fake Being Human merchandise entering the market?
-[A string of profanity later] How can these ***** even think about creating fakes knowing that all the proceeds from our merchandise supports a cause. I can’t blame fans, because many don’t even realise they are purchasing fakes. In fact, many of these ****** have created Being Human merchandising that even we haven’t marketed, such as perfumes.
Yes, we are planning legal action against such people.
-How can the common man go that extra mile to help Being Human?
-You help those who need help and you are helping Being Human.
-Would you be willing to team up with actors with whom you don’t share good relations with if it means doing the greater good for Being Human?
-Everyone is welcome to support us. I will personally hug them myself if they support Being Human.
-Being Human constantly draws support from the film fraternity for an annual fashion show. Can we expect such a starry collaboration to come to our shores in future?
-Why not. I am certainly open to working something out for Dubai.
-The bad boy in the media or the humanitarian, over the years we have seen this transformation in Salman Khan, but which one of them is real?
-I don’t look back into my past. But the media does. Today, if I get into trouble, the media will dredge up all my past mistakes going back decades. Before, anything wrong turned into a 30-minute capsule, today it is a three-hour capsule.
I was serious and responsible back then and I am the same now.