Before Salman Khan was called ‘Bhaijaan’ or ‘Sultan’, he was fondly known as ‘Prem’ a famous screen name given by the director Sooraj Barjatya, who said that it stemmed from the family just like his movies. He made his directional debut with the movie ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ in 1989, which featured Salman Khan as Prem. This film went on to become Salman’s breakout flick.
The duo went on to work together on projects like Hum Saath Saat hain, Hum Aapke Hain Koun and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, in which all of the Salman Khan’s roles were named as Prem. Even in the two movies which Sooraj Barjatya directed without Salman like Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon featuring Hrithik Roshan and Vivah starring Shahid Kapoor, he kept the name Prem for the male lead.
In a recent interview, the veteran director said that the name describes everything he wants to express through his movies. ‘Prem’ denotes a guy who is traditionally rooted, has his basic rights, is funny, but cherishes his family and is good at heart.
He further added that while working on the story for Maine Pyaar Kiya, he was thinking about the name that should be given to the male protagonist. They had options like Pratap, Gaurav and even Raj. This is before Shah Rukh Khan debuted. So Raj was also one of the options. But after a lot of thinking, he came to the conclusion that what he was searching for was within the family.
It was the time when Rajshri Productions’ blockbuster hit ‘Dulhan Wahi Jo Piya Man haye’ was released and the name of the male lead was ‘Prem’ which was portrayed by Prem Krishen Ji. So they thought that if that was successful, then using the same name will also yield the same result. Therefore, they went with the name Prem and it has stayed till now.