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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma wow 27,000 fans in Abu Dhabi

The Bollywood legends are in the UAE to promote their latest film

The Bollywood stars wave to the crowd at Dalma Mall. Antonie Robertson / The National
The Bollywood stars wave to the crowd at Dalma Mall. Antonie Robertson / The National

Thousands of fans filled the atrium of Dalma Mall on Saturday to catch a glimpse of Bollywood superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma, stars of the romantic comedy, Jab Harry Met Sejal.

Thousands lined the roads leading to the mall for a chance to cheer and welcome a caravan of vehicles that carried the stars.

Inside, many more – mostly young and middle-aged men, but also many families - packed tightly around a stage on the main floor as hundreds more looked over the action from the balconies above.

Shah Rukh Khan charms the crowd at Dalma Mall in Abu Dhabi. Antonie Robertson / The National
Shah Rukh Khan charms the crowd at Dalma Mall in Abu Dhabi. Antonie Robertson / The National

The actors were scheduled to arrive at 6pm, but didn’t get on stage until after 8pm, when the energetic audience was beginning to get restless, forcing security to jump in the crowd and physically push people away from the stage after warning them to move back.

The percussion rhythms of the hit song, 'I became your Radha,' blared through the speakers, and the tension was diffused as the audience’s mood turned festive and they began bouncing, pumping their fists in their air and extending their mobile phones toward the stage.

At about 8.20pm, King Khan and Ms Sharma arrived on stage to thunderous cheer.

People at Dalma Mall wait for the arrival of Shah Rukh Khan. Antonie Robertson / The National
People at Dalma Mall wait for the arrival of Shah Rukh Khan. Antonie Robertson / The National

“Assalumualaikum,” Mr Khan yelled to the audience, escalating the excitement to fever pitch.

He recited famous dialogue from his past hit movies sending the crowd in a frenzy. After Ms Sharma greeted the audience - “Good evening, everyone!” - the couple broke out dance moves to a hit single of their upcoming romantic comedy, which will debut in the UAE next month.

As the crowd began to once again crush toward the stage, Mr Khan, dressed in white sneakers, black trousers, white shirt and light blue jacket and sunglasses, politely appealed for his fans to settle down and take a few steps back. He also declared that 27,000 people were in attendance for his visit, although an official figure has not yet been announce by mall officials.

The crowd gets ready for Shah Rukh Khan's appearance at Dalma Mall. Antonie Robertson / The National
The crowd gets ready for Shah Rukh Khan's appearance at Dalma Mall. Antonie Robertson / The National

“It was worth the wait,” said Talha Razzak, a Pakistaki software engineer who accompanied his wife, blogger Nida Arshad, to the event.

“Especially Shah Rukh Khan, I myself, I am a fan of Shah Rukh Khan, people are crazy and he is very nice.

"I have seen him for the first time, so close. I have always heard about him, like he is so decent and good, and that is what we saw. He proved to be that. Now I have more better affection for him than I had before.”

Ms Arshad added: “I was not a fan of Shah Rukh Khan,” noting she came to see Ms Sharma, “But after today, I am a fan of Shah Rukh Khan. He is just how he appears in his movies. He is original, he is passionate, he is friendly and the way he was requesting to the audience, it was like, it was great. He is literally very nice.”

The couple said they weren’t bothered by the delay or the thousands of other fans who attended the public appearance.

“See, if you are a Pak or Indo person, you will not be worried, you have seen this before. So, this kind of crowd you can see daily outside his home back in India, daily,” said Mr Razzak.

Sunny Srivastana, a 28-year-old retail worker India at the mall, said fans began arriving at around 3:30pm or 4pm. He said it was thrilling to have a home-grown Indian superstar visit the capital.

“I have seen all the movies,” said Mr Srivastana.

“He is iconic.”

Sushma Hegde, Indian resident living in Abu Dhabi, said SKR has “given romance a new meaning.”

Nowshin Khaleque, a 28-year-old Bangladeshi who attended with her two friends, said SRK was a “superstar. He is called King Khan. This guy is the man of romance. He is the king of romance.”

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