Salman Khan (left) with Aayush Sharma in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Watching a film with Salman Khan in Abu Dhabi as part of the audience is a pleasantly disconcerting experience.

Don’t get us wrong, but this muscled-up Bollywood superstar has a bizarre habit of watching the majority of the movie from the aisle/passage way leading to the seats. Perhaps all that room in the darkened cinema served him well as he broke into an impromptu jig as a Gharba song (Indian folk) played out on the screen.

Khan was even seen mouthing a few lyrics of the songs from the film, like a groupie in a rock concert. The notoriously moody actor had a ball at the cinemas, like a regular bloke.

On Saturday evening, this journalist was witness to these quirks as Khan watched his brother-in-law Aayush Sharma’s debut film Loveyatri at Novo Cinemas in Abu Dhabi’s World Trade Centre.

The unusually chipper actor was also in the habit of showering praises such as “well done” to Sharma, who’s married to Khan’s sister Arpita.

A visibly relaxed Khan, who is in the capital to film portions of director Ali Abbas Zafar’s Bharat, told Gulf News tabloid! that he decided to nip down to the cinema to gauge the audience reaction of his latest production to get “direct feedback”, and to find out whether innocent love stories like the one shown in Loveyatri had takers.

“As a producer, I want to see how correct we are going or how off we are… It was not a money factor. I come from a family of writers. My dad [Salim Khan] is a writer… For me, it’s not [about] making money or a casting coup. It’s about finding the right script for the actor. We thought the right film for Aayush would be a sweet, family romance,” said Khan in an exclusive interview with Gulf News tabloid!.

Sharma’s debut film, which opened to mixed reviews, some downright scathing, is a tale of young love, angst and rebellion.

“He’s not my discovery but Arpita’s discovery… He’s a knowledgeable, good boy and very sensible too,” Khan added.

According to the actor, his sister has chosen well and that he had complete faith in Sharma’s acting prowess.

“More than money, it is love that we have invested in this film… There’s love, faith, care and share in this film,” said Khan. Clearly this pair, who could be the poster children for the nepotism that punctuates Bollywood and casting decisions, wasn’t worried about political correctness. All they want to do is to make a “clean, sweet” film with Loveyatri.

“Tonight, I want to see if people actually enjoy the sweet and innocent senses of humour. Do they like these novice, coming-of-age love stories anymore? I am coming to a theatre after the longest time and I actually want a few answers,” Khan said.

Ask them if they were disappointed by the reviews that came their way, Khan is candid as he dares the critics to give his Loveyatri an abysmal rating.

“It doesn’t matter. Give it minus two or three stars… I asked him in the beginning, if he wanted to make a film for the critics. I said ‘then I am not your man’. If you want to make a film for the audiences, then I will produce your film. But if you want three, four or five stars from the critics, I cannot do anything,” Khan added.

While critics may not have embraced Khan’s labour of love, the actor and his family didn’t let that be a dampener as they had a ball at the cinemas in the UAE.