The images of a teary-eyed Salman Khan at Rajshri Media’s CEO Rajjat Barjatya’s funeral have now been widely seen.For a superstar who has so carefully adhered to his devil-may-care insouciant persona both on and off screen, it was a shocking moment indeed when he broke down, and showed himself to be entirely as vulnerable as the average human being.Salman, who was among the first to express his condolences at Rajjat’s death, attended a prayer meet held by the Barjatya family on Sunday. There, he had a tough time holding on to his emotions as he teared up, repeatedly, especially after he hugged longtime friend and collaborator Sooraj Barjatya.Rajjat Barjatya was the cousin of Sooraj Barjatya. He had been in hospital for several days, after a battle with cancer. He passed away on Friday night, 29 July.Salman Khan at the funeral of Rajjat Barjatya, with Sooraj Barjatya. Image from TwitterThat Salman would feel the loss so keenly is not surprising.The Barjatyas and Salman have had a close relationship from the time that Salman starred in Maine Pyar Kiya back in 1989.It was Sooraj Barjatya’s first film as a director, although the Rajshri banner was a well-established one since the time of his grandfather.In those early years, it was his films with Rajshri Productions that catapulted him into the big leagues, both Maine Pyar Kiya and Hum Aapke Hain Koun…! The Rajshri films came to Salman when his career was not at the supernova pinnacle it has reached today — before Maine Pyar Kiya, Salman had only had a supporting role in Biwi Ho To Aisi. And while he had a string of hits after that, including Baaghi, Patthar Ke Phool, Sanam Bewafa and Saajan, he had had no fewer than six flops (Love, Sooryavanshi, Ek Ladka Ek Ladki et al) before Sooraj Barjatya cast him in Hum Appke Hain Koun…! (Rajshri hadn’t made any films between MPK and HAHK.)In 1994, Hum Aapke Hain Koun…! shot Salman’s career into the stratosphere. An interesting tidbit about the film is that initially, trade reactions towards HAHK were not very favourable — especially its playlist of over 14 songs. Sooraj Barjatya has said that Salman’s father, Salim Khan, made a call to him at this time, and while asking him to wait patiently for the tide to turn, also advised him to cut two songs from the run-time. Barjatya did this, and the film’s collection began to pick up, from day three in the theatres.By the time Salman and Sooraj teamed up again, for Hum Saath Saath Hain, in 1999, the equation between the star and his director had changed. Rajshri hadn’t made any films in the intervening five years; Salman, on the other hand, had a slew of commercially successful roles, including Judwa, Biwi No. 1, Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya.He had also, in this time, caught the eye of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who cast him first in Khamoshi, and then Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam — a turning point for Salman in his personal and professional life.Hum Saath Saath Hain worked at the box office, but it didn’t replicate the super success of HAHK. Perhaps the audience had moved on from the singing-dancing-joint-families that were the hallmark of Rajshri filmmaking.Salman Khan with Sooraj Barjatya and Sonam Kapoor at a promotional event for ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo’From November 1999 to November 2015, Rajshri had only one hit film — 2006’s Vivaah, starring Shahid Kapoor and Amrita Rao. Unlike previous years, when the production simply had made no films that did not star Salman, this time it had six, including the critical and commercial dud Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon.So when Sooraj and Salman teamed up for Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo, it was Rajshri that badly needed a hit. SinceDabangg, in 2010, Salman had not had a single flop — all of his films had been Rs 100-crore plus earners. With Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo, the Salman-Sooraj Barjatya combination surpassed their previous films — it would go on to make Rs 400+ crore at the box office worldwide.Spurred by the success of PRDP, the director and his star have teamed up for another film.With their careers having been so closely allied with each other through these four films (only David Dhawan has done more films with Salman, at eight; Sohail Khan has also directed his brother in four movies) that Salman and Sooraj think of each other as family is hardly a surprise.An interviewer once asked Sooraj Barjatya what made him and Salman — such diverse personalities — such close friends?“You don’t party, he parties, you go off to sleep by 11pm and wake up at 6 am whereas there could be times when Salman could be sleeping close to the time you get up. Looking at Salman and you, it’s difficult to imagine how you can be friends,” the interviewer said.Sooraj replied: “We both are the eldest in our families, we both love our families, we both feel responsible for our family, we both have the love of our parents and having worked in these films together, we have become like one. Yes, we may be living different lifestyles, but our core is the same.”Looking at Salman sharing in the Barjatya family’s grief on Sunday drove that point home once again.
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