Shah Rukh Khan
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Salman Khan has often been called the ‘Sultan’ of the single screen cinemas in India. Watching his movies in a single screen theatre is said to be an essential experience, more so when it is the first show on the day of release. We went to one of Mumbai’s best-known single screen theatre, Chandan Cinema, to get a first-hand idea on what the entire hoopla is about, and here’s what we found!
As we struggled to reach the theatre through the crowd that had gathered to celebrate the release; we found a group of youngsters bathing the poster hung up at the theatre with milk and the rest of the crowd cheered along chanting Salman’s name. This ritual, popularised by Rajinikanth followers in Chennai, is now a regular for Salman Khan fans. It’s called ‘doodh abhishek’, which was followed by garlanding of the poster and bursting crackers in front of the theatre. Rituals complete, we finally made our way in, walking over spilt milk.
When you have a crowd who refuses to settle in, it gets chaotic. Making way through the maddening crowd as we found our seats we realised some fans had already taken them up. We were told to sit wherever we find seats, and we managed to find some only by the time the first scene was over. By then Salman Khan had already made his on-screen appearance and the crowd was chanting ‘sultan, sultan’ about the thousandth times.
As we were trying to get accustomed to the constant whistles and chants every time Salman mouthed a word, much less a dialogue, the first song of the film arrived, Baby Ko Bass Pasand Hai. And it was then that whole crowd went beserk, some people ran towards the screen and started dancing. The scene was reminiscent of a mini discotheque where people are just having a great time dancing to the song along with Salman and Anushka, who danced it off on-screen. The security rushed in to control the crowd, but they failed to get these dancers back to their seats till the song was over. And this happened all over again when the next song 440 Volt came. There was no stopping the fans who wanted to celebrate Sultan falling in love!
By the second half of the film, we gave up the hopes of being able to actually listen to the entire dialogues. The chants of Sultan and Salman intensified and completely drowned out most of the dialogues. As the film got more dramatic post interval we wondered if the sloganeering would die down. Nope, it did not! In fact, when Sultan entered the wrestling ring again after years, the entire theatre cried in unison. As the film progressed it became really difficult to understand whether the Sultan slogans were actually being chanted by the crowd on-screen or in the theatre. Impact!
Even as Sultan repeatedly failed in his attempts to win back his lady love, the crowd decided to rally his case. Cries for Aarfa (Played by Anushka Sharma) to accept the apologies were heard. After a point, some of the fans even got upset and hurled some abuses at poor Aarfa. How dare she ignore bhai for that long! One chap even shouted, “Arre ek thumka laga de!” Wow!
Towards the end as Salman Khan made an appearance in a ‘langot’, his fans went crazy! Usually pleased enough when the actor takes off his shirt, with the pants off, they found reasons enough to celebrate harder. This one is going to be breaking a lot more records for sure. Sure enough, as we moved out of the hall, some from the audience were already running to queue up for tickets for the next show!
Sultan is as entertaining as it gets. And there is none other than Salman Khan who could have pulled this off with as much earnestness. From playing a wrestler who can take on fighters twice his weight to playing a man who has lost his self-belief, Sultan is one of Salman’s best. Anushka Sharma has much lesser to do, but never slips for once in whatever she has. Kudos to director Ali Abbas Zafar. We are definitely heading to the theatre again, and this time (hopefully!) sans the madness!
By Noyon Jyoti Parasara
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