Watching the latest Salman Khan film at a posh theatre is vastly different than that of one which is frequented by his unabashed fans.
Just like the previous year, I eagerly awaited Eid, not because of the festivities or the food, but because like every other Salman Khan fan, the occasion brought with it the gift of another bhai film. I chose to watch the film at a non-descript theatre close to where I live since Bandra’s hub of Sallu fans, Gaiety Galaxy would have opened their first show sometime around noon and my excitement got the better of me. I walked into the screen with stars in my eyes hoping for an experience where I could barely hear the dialogues being said on-screen but all those hopes were dampened for reasons I’m not too sure about.
For starters, I expected whistles flooding the cinema hall as soon as Salman Khan makes his grand entry as Sultan Ali Khan, something which I found only myself doing. I should have taken that as an omen that the movie is not going to be masked by hoots, claps, flower garlands thrown at the screen or even people dancing in the aisles when bhai grooved . What I found instead was a crowd that was too inhibited to clap and whistle when Sultan took down wrestlers twice his size which although disappointing, didn’t stop me from enjoying the film.
I remember watching his previous release on Eid last year, where a fan slapped the cinema hall staff because a song didn’t sound right on the speaker only to replay it for the audience again. Even seasoned actors like Amitabh Bachchan command a fan following but Salman’s fans are less of fans and more fanatical, so to say. Coming back to my movie watching experience, I missed the madness that surrounds each of his films and mostly, miss being a part of it. For someone who found himself laughing the loudest and clapping the hardest in a packed theatre, it was quite a sad experience to not see the energy of a single screen flood a hall with a more ‘civilised’ crowd.
I pride myself to be one of those fans who must have watched every movie, vine, video or even clipping of Salman on the internet and still would want more of him. People label him as mediocre, a criminal, irresponsible and many other demeaning terms but to me, he is a child who speaks his mind and gets brutally ripped apart for it. For me, this film somehow intensified that notion of him being a good human although technically, they’re pretty much the same stories in different settings. Bhai’s image of being an invincible star on-screen……and well, off it at times gives me the idea that he generates the kind of adulation someone like Rajnikanth would.
Salman’s movies are not just about song-dance, him taking down the bad guys and a heroine who’s pretty much like a show piece in his shadow, they are a way of life. If he was as talentless, average and bereft of charm as most sections of the society criticise him to be, there wouldn’t be daily wage labourers giving up their day’s bread and butter only to watch him flex his muscles on-screen; there wouldn’t be people thronging outside movie halls scrambling to get a glimpse of his ‘new’ film. All said and done, the man sure knows how to tug at the heart-strings of even a cynical Salman Khan movie goer and not everybody can manage to do it time and again with the flair and swagger he has!
As told to Devi Poojari.