This is HARD! Salman’s filmography is so vast, and the “standard list” so small, that almost everything he made falls outside of it. Especially the way he reinvents himself every few years making his “standard” films a complete different collection. Anyway, I look forward to lively discussion as we all fight about where Lucky: No Time for Love should be!
From 1988 to 1994, Salman was a romantic chocolate hero lead, always falling in love. 1994 to 1999, he was half a comic hero and half romantic but in a confident cocky way. 1999 to 2009, pretty much all comic with a few love movies scattered in. And 2009 to present day, it’s ACTION ACTION ACTION with a couple of kind of sweet family stories mixed in. What this means is, Salman’s “standard list” is WEIRD!!!! For those who love him as a romantic hero, it starts at Maine Pyar Kiya and goes through Sultan. For those who like Comic Salman, it starts with Andaz Apna Apna and goes until Partner. For those who like Action Salman, it goes from Wanted to Tiger Zinda Hai. And for those who like All Salmans, it’s the two Dabangg movies, romantic and comic and action all in one.
The list I put together ended up being mostly romance, because that is the least remembered (right now) version of Salman, with some of the lessor comedies scattered in. There’s loads I left off because at least at one point they were highly regarded and famous and will swing back into being noticed if Salman swings back into comedy or romance (for instance, Judwaa wasn’t talked about much until the sequel came out, and then it was everywhere). But this least is decent films from through out Salman’s career that were never so so so so so popular as to be unforgettable, and also aren’t really super critically acclaimed, and definitely aren’t being mentioned now in interviews and promotions because he doesn’t make these kinds of films any more.
This is a movie that I went on a little journey from “so bad it’s good” to “I might be sincerely enjoying this” to “no, actually, it’s a good movie!” I wouldn’t say a “smart” movie, or a “deep” movie, but it is good. The song sequences are extremely enjoyable and original, it is a nice old-fashioned swoony love story, and the hero role is perfect for Salman, the cool older college kid stuck with the dreamy teenage girl who falls for him and vice versa. (definitely watch this song, so charming and ridiculous)
This is a really really good movie. It’s a southern remake with Revathy carried over from the original cast, and the script has that southern kind of “wow, that’s different!” spark, for instance making the heroine Christian. Plus, Revathy is brilliant (as always) and forces Salman to up his acting game. But the message about consumerism and parental abuse, and the super cute love story, that’s all timeless and just plain GOOD. And the critics and the public didn’t really notice it, so it ended up on his overlooked films list when it belongs on the “critical acclaim and hit” list. (you can skip this song, it’s cute but not a must watch)
Okay, this is definitely a “so bad it’s good” option. But it is very entertaining! And very old-fashioned Masala. Manisha Koirala and Salman were childhood-married and then separated, and when Salman goes looking for her, rich girl Manisha isn’t thrilled to have village boy Salman try to “claim” her. There are crazy complications after that, crazy to the point of just being entertained by how far they will go. Plus, a chance to see Manisha and Salman on screen together! (you can skip this song too, unless you want to see Salman and Manisha sexy together)
Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya
This one was actually a big hit when it came out. But then Kuch Kuch Hota Hai came out a few months later was was an even bigger hit, and everyone forgot this movie. A combination of a bunch of familiar plots, Kajol and Salman fall in love at college but Kajol’s brother Arbaaz Khan doesn’t approve and Salman has to prove himself. Kajol and Salman have a kind of fun chemistry, and this was their only film together, and the plot is a nice old-school romance, and the songs are GREAT. Absolutely worth a watch. (classic song here, of the “Salman the Beefcake” variety)
I wouldn’t have expected it, but the Salman-Twinkle chemistry in this is maybe the most human and real I have ever seen either of them look onscreen. It’s a sweet story, Salman is the rich boy who reforms for the love of Twinkle and then has a last minute complication to their happy ending. But mostly it stands out for me because of just how adult it is, about everything. Twinkle and Salman really feel like two healthy mature adults together, the threat to their relationship is real and not some scammed up fake thing for the sake of drama, and it is all just pleasant. (you can skip this song, it’s just okay)
Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge
The comic years! And the Karisma years. Salman and Karisma were amazing comic partners. In this one, they meet and fall in love on a trip to Europe, and then Salman has to win over her 3 very different and very protective uncles (one is a weight lifter, one loves pop music, and so on). It’s essentially DDLJ, but played as more of an over the top farce than anything else. (another just okay song, but the Karisma-Salman chemistry is always good)
Chal Mere Bhai
Another one that should be tragic but lands on “farce” instead. Salman and Sanjay are brothers who, unknowingly, both fall in love with Karisma. There is a large family putting pressure on them, Karisma’s comic uncle, and so on and so forth. It largely works just because of the amazing three way chemistry, Salman and Sanjay, Salman and Karisma, and Karisma and Sanjay. (also, you should really watch this song, it’s an all time classic and so freakin’ charming I could die).
Har Dil Jo Pyar Karoge
I love this movie! Part of the “Salman remakes 1990s Chicago set rom-coms” duology. A remake of While You Were Sleeping but way more comic, Salman is an aspiring singer who pretends to be the fiance of Rani Mukherjee (a girl in a coma) in order to get in good with her music producer uncle. But then of course falls in love with Rani’s best friend Preity. There are complications after that, and it gets all sacrificial and “True Love” by the end, but mostly it is ridiculous! Oh, and it has a Shahrukh cameo for no real reason! (another great song! Especially with the comic touch of Salman having to act sad while Preity is looking at him)
Dil Ne Jise Apne Kahaa
And the second of the “Salman remakes 1990s Chicago set rom-coms” duology! This time, a remake of Return to Me. Salman’s beloved wife Preity Zinta dies, and her heart is transplanted into Bhoomika Chawla, who of course falls in love with Salman at first sight. The songs are really good, especially the title song, and the large loving family around Bhoomika is charming, including Helen as her mother, and Salman’s performance as a grieving widower is something a little different. (only watch this song if you want to see Bhoomika Chawla in something shockingly ugly)
Oh Veer! I was just talking in the comments about how Thugs committed the terrible sin of the action-adventure-historical film of being just plain BORING. Veer is never boring. It’s over the top and unbelievable and badly acted and really badly costumed, but it is never dull! And it’s also a surprisingly intelligent and even-handed take on the Colonial period. Strip off all the terrible costumes and wigs and stuff, and it has a far firmer grasp of the period than pretty much any other film short of Junoon. But mostly, NOT BORING. (my favorite part of this song is the random poster for Street Angel in the middle. Also, the terrible costumes)
Salman’s last true comedy. A remake of the Telugu film of the same name, but I think this one is better? Asin plays the heroine and is more than a match for Salman, in every way. The script gives her plenty of opportunities to take the upper hand, and their battle of wits in the first half is the best part. The actual battles in the second half aren’t bad either. Really, it’s just an all around solid comic film with an all around solid lead performance from Salman, makes me miss the “Salman-the-comic” era. (this song is a terrible ear worm, you will never get it out of your head)
The “Main Hoon Hero Tera” Song Video
What can I say? It makes me happier than pretty much anything else I have ever watched. The best is of course the moment when he dramatically removes his glasses so he can look the microphone straight in the eye, but bowing the enormous imaginary violin is also good, and the little triumphal hand raise at the end. Really, one of the greatest performances (in terms of entertainment value) Salman has ever done.