x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Desi Girl: Creating frenzy like only Salman Khan can

It felt like the whole of Dubai was going crazy when one of Bollywood's leading men touched down in the city.

What a mad couple of days! Salman Khan was in town for the launch of his Being Human clothing range and everyone just went nuts (including me, of course).

There have been a lot of Bollywood star visits in the past few weeks, but none have stirred up this much frenzy. And I'm not just talking about rising stars such as Ayushmann Khurrana (of Vicky Donor) or Sonakshi Sinha (Dabangg and Rowdy Rathore). I'm talking big names here: Akshay Kumar, John Abraham, maybe even Emraan Hashmi could go on that list. But the city has not gone as crazy as it did this past weekend.

Raza Beig, the owner of Landmark Group, whose Splash and Iconic stores are the first in the region to sell the Being Human line, played his cards right. He built up just enough anticipation and drummed up more than enough excitement. In the days leading up to the launch, Khan was on billboards across the city and every fan had their calendar blocked for the mall visits that had been announced.

People flew in to Dubai and bought Being Human merchandise in hopes of getting it autographed by the star. Sallu did appear at a couple of malls, but there was no way he could have signed all those shirts.

It got me wondering if a visit by Aamir Khan or Shah Rukh Khan would bring out the same kind of crowds. Whether it's Salman, Aamir or Shah Rukh: every Bollywood fan has a favourite Khan. (I'm not including Saif on that list because technically he's not a Khan: he's an Ali Khan, like myself.)

My favourite Khan has always been Salman, right from when I was eight and I saw him play Prem in the 1989 film Maine Pyar Kiya, telling Suman: "Friendship mai no sorry no thank you" (No sorry or thank you in friendship). The jacket and friendship bracelet he wore in the movie were the two things that my friends and I wanted most at that time. My devotion hasn't changed since then.

Fans of other Khans have had similar obsessions. Aamir fans want the sailor cap he wore in Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin as he pined after Pooja Bhatt. Shah Rukh fans want that silver necklace from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, that had the word "cool" engraved on it, and which his character Rahul pulled out when he said the famous line: "I'm cool."

As grown-ups, we would probably find it silly to wear that jacket or that hat. And that's why the Being Human line of clothing is the perfect answer. Bollywood stars have been spotted wearing the tees and fans are wearing them even without knowing what the two words on the shirts represent.

Well, here's a message directly from Sallu: wearing a Being Human T-shirt marks your support of his charitable foundation; 100 per cent of proceeds from the sale go towards the education and health care of the underprivileged. So please, don't buy fakes.