They were perhaps some of the darkest days in Salman Khan’s life, but now they are set to light up the silver screen. Salman, one of the prime accused in the infamous chinkara case, had to spend time behind bars in 1996 and 1998, and now that period of his life is being recreated in a film called Qaidi No 210. And guess who is helping with the research? Salman’s former cellmate, Mahesh Kumar Saini.
Mahesh and Salman struck up something of a friendship in the three days they spent together in Jodhpur Central jail in 1996. Ranjit Sharma, the producer of Qaidi No 210, was introduced to Saini by the jailor during the course of his research and now he has taken him onboard as a consultant.
“I spent quite some time researching the subject and met many people in Jodhpur Central jail. That’s where I also met Mahesh Kumar Saini, a murder suspect,” said Ranjit Sharma. “I told him to get in touch with me whenever he was released. He got in touch some months ago and he has given me details about Salman’s stay in the jail. Chirag Patil, son of former cricketer Sandeep Patil, will play Salman.”
Mahesh himself is all praise for Salman and convinced about his innocence. “All I can say is that Salman is one of the nicest human beings I have ever met. I know for a fact that he is innocent. I can’t reveal more because he had told me everything in confidence, but Salman never fired that shot (which killed the chinkara). He is going through hell to save someone else. I don’t think he ever expected this incident to become such a controversial matter and that even political bigwigs would play dirty. But one day justice will be done,” he said.
Recounting the three days he spent with Salman in jail, Mahesh said, “On the first day, he was tense. I was the jail monitor, so I chatted with him and took him for a prison tour.” Several interesting aspects about Salman revealed by Mahesh may finally make their way to the script as well. “Salman is addicted to coffee. He wanted one cup every hour. He hardly ate anything except the chocolates his brother Sohail had given him. He had many visitors. The ones I knew were his sister Alvira and brother Sohail. On the second night, I made soyabean and we ate together.”
Mahesh says Salman even managed to exercise in the jail. “We managed to sneak in dumb bells for him though they are not allowed. On the second day he was feeling bored. I arranged a carrom board for him and even a chess board.”
When Salman was finally released on bail, he offered to give Mahesh Rs 20,000 as a token of his appreciation. “I told him I can’t take the money, but I’d be grateful if he could find me a job when I got out. Salman said he’d do the needful, but I have to reach him. I hope to meet him someday because I know a person like him will honour his w o r d , ” said Mahesh.