Hindi Film 101: Salman Khan Part 3, Why He is the Way He is, Khan-daan to Trigeminal Neuralgia

Part 3! And I might, finally, be ready to move on to Salman’s own life instead of just establishing his background and childhood. But probably not.

Non-Usual Disclaimer READ IT: Salman has done a lot of bad things, but he has also done good things. And just as the good he has done has not erased the bad he has done, so has the bad not erased the good. I will try to treat his life as a whole, good and bad, with compassion and understanding as I would for any other human.

In 1990, Salim Khan was walking along a footpath and he saw a homeless woman laying down with her baby crying next to her. He stopped and comforted the baby, and tried to help the mother only to discover she was dead. So Salim took the baby home and made her his daughter. Who does that? No really, who DOES that????

Image result for arpita khan young
Arpita Khan. Born on the streets, married in a palace. Literally.

Salim’s movies were full of noble people who took in homeless folks, fed the hungry, considered the whole world as family. And it wasn’t just fiction for him, that was how he lived his life. His sons tell a story from when they were young, a young man showed up at their house for dinner so they fed him. And then he had nowhere to stay, so they found a corner in one of their bedrooms for him to sleep. He stayed for over a year. Some time after he left, they realized none of them actually knew him. They all assumed he was a friend of someone else. Not that it mattered, if you appear at the Khan family home, they will feed you, they will shelter you, they will care for you until you can care for yourself.

When Shahrukh Khan first arrived in Bombay, he had a wife and a couple movie contracts, and nothing else. They were living in a borrowed apartment with no furniture, and no friends either. Somehow, Shahrukh met Salman. For a year, he and Gauri spent all their free time at the Khan household, playing board games, eating meals, finding a place that was warm and welcoming and gave them a home when they had none. And then they built up their new home and moved on, but Shahrukh still returns every year for Eid for their special biryani to take home to his family.

Image result for salim khan shahrukh khan
Shahrukh in a recent interview said “I am Shahrukh Khan because of Salim Khan”. Salim gave him support when he was nothing, just because he was a human in need.

I have a book on Salman by an author, Jasim Khan. He wasn’t able to get an interview with Salman, but he made an appointment to meet with his father Salim. It was supposed to be a short interview, Salim was in a hurry to get it over with. But then he learned that Jasim had not had lunch yet. So he served him food, and ate with him until he was full, and a quick interview turned into hours. Because no one can leave the Khan household without eating, and no one can eat alone.

When Salman is shooting, he gives food to the entire cast and crew. Even while shooting something as small as his song appearance in Zero, he took responsibility to ensure that no one went hungry. Any other actor, if the thought had occurred to them, it would mean he pulls out his credit card and foots the bill for take out. For Salman, it means he sends his driver back home to have his mother cook up food for 80. And then serves it himself. For Salman, you must feed those who work for you. And you must feed them with food cooked by your family in the home kitchen. There is no other way to live. That’s what people mean when they talk about his family and their home as the “Khan-daan”, that kind of constant hospitality and giving to others.

I used to think of Salman as generous. But he isn’t, not really. No more than I am hygienic for brushing my teeth every morning, or lazy for using a dishwasher instead of washing by hand. I do what is normal to me because of how I was raised, he does what is normal for him. I suppose he could have rebelled, questioned why his family lived in a small apartment, spent no money on luxuries, had few servants, and instead devoted most of their income to caring for others. But he didn’t rebel, he accepted. This is how their family was, they had enough and so they should share it with others. No excuses, no exceptions.

People say that he cares. But I don’t care. If I can be of some use to somebody, I don’t care about it. It’s no effort. I don’t care. What’s there to care? Isn’t this like a done thing? Everyday thing?


Salman took small pay for his first big break film, Maine Pyar Kiya. But the next film he signed, his rate increased 7 times. For the next 30 years, Salman’s rates have been astronomically high and he has worked constantly. He does not take more than 4 days off in a row. His family (his brothers and sisters and their spouses and children) go on vacations, and he comes for a few days and then leaves again. The needs of his family, and the charity his family provides, is a never ending ever gaping maw of need. When Arpita married in 2014, he rented an entire palace for her marriage at a reported cost of $720,000, and bought her a flat worth 2 million. Meanwhile, Salman himself lives in a one bedroom apartment that could fit within Arpita’s living room, one floor up from the apartment where his parents, two brothers, sister-in-law, and niece and nephew live.

Image result for arpita khan wedding palace
Arpita, footpath to palace.

The sad thing is, Salman never got a chance to discover who he would have been if he wasn’t the oldest son, the head of the household, the one who must somehow find the money to support them all. There are stories that, at one time, he wanted to try writing. He has written a few scripts, not very good ones, but no worse than scripts that are purchased every day. And maybe if he was able to sit down and focus instead of trying to write them in between all his other jobs, they would have been a lot better. He also likes to paint. He was able to paint some posters for his movies, and other paintings were auctioned off to raise money.

Salman doesn’t even get to be the actor he could be. While his equals, the other two Khans, have been in 82 and 48 films respectively (yes, I am counting Aamir in Yaadon Ki Baarat as a little boy in this total), Salman has been in 109. When he tries, there are few actors that can equal him for charisma, emotion, and entertainment. But the problem is, he isn’t often allowed to try. If you look at his first two movies, especially his second film Baaghi for which he wrote part of the script, you find a stunningly promising, attractive, energetic, and focused actor. And then that actor was slowly suffocated under the obligations that weighed down the man.

Salman’s acting career helped with his responsibilities at home, but just added on new responsibilities at work. It wasn’t just feeding the cast and crew every day, there were producers, actors, crew members who all had demands on him. Salman appears in many films for money. And he appears in many films for favors owed. When Karan wanted him in KKHH, he was nervous and scared, asked it as a favor, and Salman said “of course, you are my brother”. On the first day of shooting, Salman was slow to leave his trailer and reluctant to wear the chosen costume. Karan went to talk to him and ended up bursting into tears. Salman hugged him apologized, and swore he would do whatever Karan needed for the rest of the shoot. And he did. It was nice for Karan, but it meant that some other producer and director was losing Salman’s dates and energy and focus for those same times, maybe a producer who might have paid him better or helped his career more.

Salman pulled strings and used up favors to get jobs for Govinda, Bobby Deol, Daisy Shah, Sanjay Dutt, and many many others. He did a cameo appearance for Preity Zinta’s first film as a producer. He did a voice role for Varun Dhawan’s first movie directed by his father (because he had watched him grow up on set). Along with his title of “Bhai”, he is also known as the “King of Cameos”. He will show up if you need him for your film, everyone from Sanjay Leela Bhansali to Hema Malini has called on him and found him ready to answer. While Aamir and Shahrukh are sitting at home studying scripts, Salman is trundling from set to set to set trying to fulfill commitments and still make money.

Salman himself in interviews acknowledges that most of the time he doesn’t even read the script. He shows up, asks for the situation and his lines, goes on camera and delivers the shot. That’s it. It sounds lazy but, from another direction, it is in fact because he is working so very very hard. Salman always shows up late on set, sometimes days late. He is slow to leave his trailer. He barely seems awake through some of his performances. But he never misses a day at the gym, or takes a day off work. He performs live for money and, even more often, for charity. Is it possible he seems barely awake because he is in fact severely sleep deprived?

Image result for salman khan sleep
Salman falling asleep in the middle of an interview

So long as I am talking about the pace and price of Salman’s life, it is also a good time to discuss his medical issues. In 2001, Salman first talked about having a nerve disorder. In later interviews, he claimed it was later, in 2007, that he realized what the problem was, Trigeminal Neuralgia. But he didn’t bother going to a doctor, he knew what it was, he would get it treated when he had time.

TN is a nerve disorder that, at random intervals, causes your facial nerves to react as though you had just been punched in the face. Some research shows that Trigeminal pain can be worse than the pain of amputation or childbirth. Incidents can happen every few days, weeks, or hours. When the disease was first discovered and diagnosed, it was given the name “the suicide disease” because one in 4 sufferers killed themselves to escape.

Salman’s Trigeminal neuralgia is probably triggered by the aneurysm at the base of his skull. He suffered for 10 years at least (2001 to 2011) before finally taking time out from work to get surgery in America. They were unable to safely remove the aneurysm, although the surgery did appear to have lessened his TN symptoms somewhat, he could still die essentially at any moment if his aneurysm bursts. Salman since at least 2011 does not drink, does not smoke, does not indulge in any way. And we know that, because he is not dead.

Image result for trigeminal neuralgia
I suspect the aneurysm is more serious even than it sounds, partly because Salman revealed when he went into surgery for the TN, it was supposed to last half an hour and it ended up lasting 8 hours. And the aneurysm is still there.

Speaking of drinking, Salman drank a lot for a long time. When he was young, he was known as a bit of a health nut, always in the gym and eating healthy and so on. He got famous and got cool friends and started staying out late and drinking and smoking and so on. That’s on him, he made those choices. But I also don’t think we can ignore the fact of his TN and that many TN sufferers self-medicate with alcohol. It’s effective, some of the legitimate treatments include using alcohol as a mix with other medications.

Here’s another interesting factor of the TN. Some sufferers of nerve disorders find clothing itself can trigger attacks. It’s less common for TN sufferers, but it’s still something to think about when Salman talks about only being comfortable when he is wearing as little clothing as possible. Kind of a curious thought experiment, to consider that the whole “shirtless” trend could have been started out of medical necessity.

Drinking can also cause nerve damage. But in this case, it seems to be unrelated. Drinking damages the nerves of the arms and legs, not the face. And it does not cause brain aneurysms, which Salman certainly has and which lead to his TN. Those are caused by nothing, they just happen.

For anyone else, having TN would be the headline of your life, the most important part of your life (until you end it). But Salman is a Khan, he is the head of his family, he can’t afford to be sick. He only rarely discusses his disease, he tends to minimize it (claiming it started in 2007 instead of 2001, that his treatment is fine and he is handling it when in fact there is no real cure, almost never mentioning the aneurysm, and so on). And so this is his statement on TN:

That’s one disease that basically has the highest rates of suicides. Over education, over everything. There is so much of pain…I suffered that…So at that point of time, I realized that I need to work really hard. No matter how much pain you are going through, it made me realise that you can’t put any subtitles – your ligament is torn, you have the flu or that your knee is hurting – in any of your scenes. Your fans don’t care about it and that you really need to give your best on screen. Once it’s printed, it’s lifelong.


And this is his statement on his aneurysm and where it came from:

Many people live with it. Aneurysms of about 8.5(mm)—a friend of mine also has one of 8.5; he is getting it operated. But in my case, it’s in an inoperable area—it’s in my brain. It’s complicated. It’s fine. It’s not changed me. Just I get scared when I get angry.

Do you still get angry?

Yes. (laughs) Do you not see that? Anger doesn’t mean like picking up a bottle and smashing somebody over the head with it. That anger is equated with a big-shot temper or having BP issues or whatever that you lose it so fast. Anger is something that you feel “this is not right”. You want to do something about it and you are trying your best and you just can’t do anything about it. That. That is the main anger. You want to turn it right.


32 thoughts on “Hindi Film 101: Salman Khan Part 3, Why He is the Way He is, Khan-daan to Trigeminal Neuralgia

  1. Couple of things-
    Like SRK, Salman’s household will most certainly consist of a fleet of help and, generous as he maybe, his mother is certainly not the one having to cook up food for 80. Also, don’t know if you mentioned it earlier but Arpita is the officially adopted child of Salim and Helen, partly because they do not have any biological children. Lastly, Salman stays down (ground floor) from the rest of his family (first floor) at Galaxy Apts.


    • I don’t think they do have a fleet of help, at least not like Shahrukh does. There simply isn’t enough space for more than a couple servants. And the stories about Salman feeding people always specific that he sends home to ask his mother too cook. IT seems odd to me too which is why I notice it every time! I am sure it is her plus a couple servants doing the heavy work, but it’s definitely specifically his mother, not just “food from their kitchen”.


    • Pretty sure that was for a scene in the movie he was filming around the interview. But does that really answer the question? Or does it just change the question for, “why is Salman wearing overalls and no shirt in a movie, wtf?”

      Oh oh! I may have found the song it was for! But with a shirt.

      On Wed, Jun 5, 2019 at 1:12 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  2. I see the parallels in Salman and Salim/Helen working life…but the crucial difference is that Salim/Helen worked day and night to put food on the table and support their families…Salman is working day and night for palace weddings and penthouses…I just can’t feel sympathetic towards his taxing schedule…
    This also makes me wonder what the hell are Arbaaz and Sohail doing?? Yeah, they are failed actors but they have the option of 100 other ways of making money…what do they do all day? Just wait around for Salman to hand them money?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I was thinking the same. Do they have any other work, some business or something? I think not. Grown men, with families (wives, ex-wives, girlfriends) and they live off their brother. They should be ashamed!


      • They even joked about it on the Koffee episode, Salman saying something about how they are so much handsomer and more talented than him, and Sohail and Arbaaz casually agreeing and saying that the reason they aren’t as successful is they just don’t want to work as hard as he does.

        On the other hand, Sohail and Arbaaz at least have fairly small wants. Arpita is a lot younger and never trained for work or learned how to do anything, so I can be more understanding about him supporting her. On the other hand, she wants SO MUCH!!!


      • There was a cringeworthy interview I saw of Arpita and her husband a while back. They admitted that their lifestyle is financed by Salman and her husband’s parents. They are married with a kid. I don’t understand how anyone can have so little self-respect.


        • It is ridiculous. Alvira and her husband rely on Salman too, but they at least work for it! Atul was a lessor actor for years after marriage before he started working for Salman, and at least he does the work, directs and produces and stuff instead of sitting around waiting to be given the dream launch as a romantic hero. And Salman did not gift them a luxury 2 million dollar flat after marriage.


    • For me personally, I still feel sympathetic for Salman. He’s working day and night for frivolities, but he isn’t enjoying them himself. He is spending them on his family and friends and everyone else. And my impression is, Salim didn’t work THAT hard. He kind of settled back and enjoyed life. He has much higher expectations of his son than he did of himself.

      And agree about Arbaaz and Sohail!!!! They could at least be investing in real estate, starting a marketing company, ANYTHING! Atul Agnihotri at least seems to have a bit of a get up and go, but Arpita’s husband whats-his-face is going to be living off of Salman one way or another for years.


      • I can’t help but compare them with Sunil Shetty, who never was number 1 actor, but he is so rich now and has so many businesses: restaurants, boutiques, luxury real-estate agency, fitness stores and who knows what else. Not everyone has a business talent like Sunil, but Dino Morea or Sunny Leone have some restaurants and stuff too. But sure, they don’t have big brother who pays all the bills, and have to work.


        • Heck, let them work as Salman’s secretary and manager at least. Or roadies, carrying his luggage and helping him get set up when he is on location. If your job is going to be “Salman Khan’s brother”, at least work for it.

          It’s very filmi, isn’t it? The noble older brother who works and works and the lazy relatives who live off of him. Salman needs a spunky young wife to move into the household and humorously give them all what-for.

          On Wed, Jun 5, 2019 at 4:37 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:


          Liked by 1 person

          • I have a feeling that his family “encourages” him to stay unmarried and child-free. All his money is eventually going to go to his siblings or nephews and nieces. Can’t see them wanting to give up the gravy train.

            There was once an angry interview Arpita gave because Salman wasn’t making a movie quick enough for her husband Ayush. Unbelievable. How ungrateful can someone be.

            Liked by 1 person

          • What may not have occurred to them is that there is no one to take over after Salman is gone. Salman was the oldest son, the oldest son of the oldest son is supposed to be next in line. So, what, is Arbaaz going to step up? Or his son? Or are they all just going to look around at the funeral going “wait, who’s going to take all the responsibility now?”


      • There needs to a be reality show ‘Keeping up with the Khans’…I really just want to see what they do all day while Salman is at work….or maybe Malaika will right her tell-all-memoir soon and spill the secrets!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I can really understand why Malaika left. Sounds like she worked harder than the whole bunch of them, just by continuing to do item songs and things.

          On Wed, Jun 5, 2019 at 5:11 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



    • I agree! She should have married Arjun Kapoor, he actually has a job. And a face that moves.

      Also, ha! Arpita is like the anti-Angie. Dumped Arjun, and loves Aayush


      • Did she dump him or the other way around? He started dating her married sister-in-law Maliaka Arora after that. How does the Khan family even tolerate seeing Arjun’s face? He pulled a Sridevi but somehow even WORSE when he used to complain so much about her.


        • She dumped him. He talks about it openly and no one contradicts it. He loved her, he wanted to marry her, he thought his whole life was planned out (marry Arpita, become a director/producer, be happy). The Khan family loved him and approved. And then she dumped him and he was heartbroken and Salman offered to mentor him into being a movie star in a kind of “sorry about my sister breaking your heart, let me try to make it up to you” way. The Malaika thing was a good few years after that, after she moved out. And her marriage with Arbaaz was on the rocks for a long time before she officially moved out.

          This is one of the reasons I love the Khan family best. Arjun didn’t actually do anything wrong, he dated a girl who dumped him and then, years later, he unexpectedly fell in love with an older divorced woman who happened to be a relative of the first woman. Any other family would be petty and hateful about this sequence of events, but it seems like the Khans, from Arbaaz to Salman, have an attitude of “no one is blameless, if you are happy then we are happy” about the whole thing.


      • Ha ha. I must admit that very time I see Aayush’s face I think about Arjun and Arpita. Ok, I don’t know them, their problems and life, but still girl, you dated Arjun Kapoor, so why marry a guy like this Aayush.


        • Well, Arjun in his fat phase. Would you still want this?

          On Wed, Jun 5, 2019 at 4:46 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • Ayush was better looking and he’s a politician’s son. His family is fairly wealthy from whatever I’ve seen. She took the better deal. But Ayush himself is a loser and I think he married Arpita for her family and a way to get into them movie business. Both of them are very unlikeable. I mean.. Salman even funds extravagant birthday parties for her son and handbags worth thousands of dollars for herself.

            But if they wait long enough, Ayush’s family money will eventually go to him.


          • There’s a kind of safety in dating in your own “class”. Arpita and Arjun, as two non-famous kids of famous families, were kind of equal. It had to be love because neither got an advantage from the other. With Ayush, I just don’t know. On the other hand, I feel like Arjun and Malaika are “equal” too, equally famous, equal amount of money of their own earning, and so on and so forth.


          • Still better than Aayush Sharma (and some guys I has a crush when I was younger)! Especially if he already had a little of the sex appeal he has now. OMG, I still remember his last KwK episode. It’s not only that he is handsome but the way he walks and sits and talks. If he had at least 10% of that attitude, I’m all in.


          • I presume that attitude comes from the same source as the Ranbir “elephant” comment.

            On Wed, Jun 5, 2019 at 5:08 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  3. The family leeching off a successful elder child is a very common societal norm in South Asia. I have personally come across a number of people like Salman who keep extensively providing for their extended family throughout their life. From the people Ive met who are like Salman, they are all married but have frequent problems with their partners because of the amount of resources that are being funnelled from their income to the extended family. So I think this explains why Salman does what he does, and does not seem to want to get married.


    • I just came back from Bharat and, interestingly enough, that is what the whole movie is about. Salman gives up his life for his siblings and takes nothing for himself. He even SPOILERS chooses to have a live-in relationship without marriage or children so he could stay focused on caring for his family END SPOILERS

      On Thu, Jun 6, 2019 at 12:42 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  4. Wow, I never knew he had TN. It sheds a whole new light on his mania, violence, mistakes, poor judgment, lateness, slowness, reluctance to marry. To think that he managed to revive his career in the late 2000s, that too as an action star, despite such chronic pain is insane. To think that his family is living off him while knowing that he is in such pain, is even more insane and frankly sounds heartless, though in truth it probably happened organically. No wonder his fans are so rabid for him.

    So Malaika is hopping over from one polygamist family to another. I guess the new one isn’t a joint family, but still. What is her backstory such that this setup speaks to her, subconsciously or even consciously?


    • One of the most interesting things I find about Salman’s TN is that no one knows about them! He could so easily make that the front and center of his life, excuse his misbehavior and difficult actions and so on for those reasons. But instead, he never brings it up, especially in the context of making excuses. The world is left to see him as alcoholic, stumbling, violent, and so on, because he won’t use his medical issues as a reason for anything. And yes, it is kind of shocking that his family still relies on him despite his massive medical issues, still expects him to work day and night for their support. And no wonder sometimes Salman seems in worse shape than his father, Salim stopped working more or less at 43, and has been living off his son since he was 50. Salman’s 53 and not slowing down.

      Oh, and I just looked up Malaika, her parents had a cross-religious and cross-cultural love marriage that ended in divorce when she was 11. So no multiple wives, but also no shock at the idea of divorce and an uncommon mixing of cultures in a family. Maybe she just can’t fit into the traditional sort of Indian family set up because she was raised differently? My impression is that divorce is still so uncommon in India, it’s possible children of divorce just find each other as the only ones who can understand.

      On Thu, Jun 6, 2019 at 10:45 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  5. When you write about about Salman’s Trigeminal neuralgia and the aneurysm, shouldn’t you also write about the anabolic drugs?
    Oh, I can fully relate to what he says about his “anger”…not really much in his life he could happy about from deep down inside…and I have the feeling that Katrina is the best woman who happened in his life (and still does 😉 )


  6. Reading this post and seeing this comment that you wrote, “He’s working day and night for frivolities, but he isn’t enjoying them himself. He is spending them on his family and friends and everyone else.” makes me really really sad for Salman. He has worked very hard and continues to do so now. I just hope that he will slow down eventually and enjoy his free time doing what he loves like painting, holidaying, just not thinking about anything for a moment.

    I’ve watched Bharat and the last scene made me wonder if Salman and Katrina are going to end up like Bharat and Kumud eventually when they are older. I do hope it’s sooner than later though it’s perfectly alright even if it’s later. It’s their life afterall.


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