They made a nice couple, or so we thought, back then. Both started their careers in modelling and Sangeeta Bijlini, or Bijli, was also a Miss India and both later ventured into Bollywood. If I remember right, the two didn’t work in a film together, but their affair was much talked about.
They later parted ways, Sangeeta went on to marry the wristy-Hyderabadi Mohammed Azharuddin (one of my favourite cricketers) and Salman into yet another tumultuous relationship.
This advertisement for Grasim’s Graviera Suitings is one of the rare occasions when Salman and Sangeeta appeared together professionally.
Back in school, I was a huge Salman Khan fan. More so because one of his films Kurbaan (1991) was partly shot in Shillong, my home town. We Shillongites also called Ayesha Jhulka (Salman’s co-star in the film) as one of our own, as her father, an Indian Air Force officer, was posted for a while in Shillong and she studied at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Upper Shillong during his tenure at the Eastern Air Command.
Another famous Shillong-Bollywood connection is Alka Yagnik, the playback singer. She is married to Neeraj Kapoor, a prominent Shillong businessman.
The red Jeep that Salman drove in Kurbaan was owned by Needo, a popular general-store-cum-video-library-cum-caterers in Laban (the locality where I spent the later half of my Shillong days and my parents still stay there) run by two very amiable brothers (who also happen to be distantly related as a cousin is married to their sister). We went to Needo to gawk at photographs of Salman in that legendary red Jeep.
I didn’t take it as a compliment when the girls in class said that I resembled Aamir Khan, I wanted to be Salman and even copied his pullover-tucked-inside-trousers look.
Many years later, when Salman took his shirt off in the song O O Jaane Jaana from the film Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya (1998) to show off his muscles, he inspired me and my friends to take up bodybuilding. We even put together a gym of our own in an outhouse of my dear friend Saibal Roy Choudhury‘s home (that is famous in Shillong being the place where Swami Vivekanda stayed during his visit to Shillong in 1901.
Such was the phenomenon called Salman. Though the craze has subsided (for me), we all still adore one of Bollywood’s best loved bad boy (the other, of course, is Sanjay Dutt).