Salman Khan. Star of over 60 Hindi films. One of the top stars of Indian cinema, one of the three who redefined and reshaped Hindi films during the 1990's to their present state. The star with undiminished popularity despite personal and professional vicissitudes, the star with the most consistently strong box office record spanning almost two decades, the actor who has proved himself to be a master of all genres, whether romance, action, drama, or comedy. No experience of Bollywood is complete without his films, no student of Hindi films can neglect him, and no future writer of Bollywood history can ignore him. His place in the canon of Hindi cinema is assured, for making films of wide and lasting impact, for setting trends that became the industry standard, for creating a unique style that is immediately identifiable and yet versatile.
And yet, when a fan who has fallen under his spell wants to learn more about him, there is surprisingly little information available. This is not because of a lack of coverage by the media. On the contrary, almost no day goes by without some article, some item, some snippet, featuring Salman Khan. Unfortunately, despite the vast amounts of verbiage, there are precious few hard facts available. There is a plethora of allegations, speculations, statements from unnamed "sources", disproved charges reiterated again and again, even outright lies (made obvious by self-contradictions in the same article), but very little that is actually true. To an extent this is because Salman himself prefers to maintain his privacy, and is said to be media shy. In more recent times, he has relaxed a little, and is giving more interviews from time to time, but it is far less than any other star of his stature. Thus, from the media coverage, one can learn little beyond that "Salman sells," and, from Salman's silent tolerance of media excesses, that Salman is very patient and forgiving. While other stars sue various publications for defamation and misrepresentation, Salman generously provides them with food and drink while they camp out in front of his house during one or another of the media-fanned frenzies!
But, if his onscreen persona fascinates, his off screen reticence intrigues. Here, then, is a summary of what has been culled from factual data, print interviews quoting Salman, and video interviews where we can see and hear Salman directly. To these sources has been added deductions from his various films, to present a picture of Salman Khan -- the person, the actor, and the star. Of course it is not really possible to compartmentalize these three aspects, since they merge together to form the complete human being that is Salman Khan, and each aspect influences the other two. However, it is instructive to approach his personality this way, so we shall make an honest effort.