Would you chant the name of your favourite celebrity to greet your fellow fans? Or take a vow of celibacy because your idol claims to be a virgin? Meet the members of the Salman Khan Fan Club Nagpur, for whom these are only a few ways to articulate their fanatical love for Bhai. “Since Jai Ho, I have been getting the names of all of his movies shaved on the back of my head. It’s my way to pay a tribute to his work,” says the founder of the club, Balram Gehani, almost reverentially.
Every new Salman Khan film is a cause for celebration for this bunch, who first got together, unofficially, in 2010. “Now that the club has grown sizeably, even cinema owners allow us to book the entire theatre to watch Bhai’s movies together,” says Gehani, who works as a sales executive in a retail store, adding “We decorate theatres from the inside and prepare mega-sized posters and banners for each of his new movies.”
Following in the footsteps of their idol, this group also engages in social work very frequently. “We had organised a DJ party inside a theatre at the time of Sultan’s release and it was accompanied simultaneously by a blood donation camp, to make it a one-of-its-kind event,” says Gehani, who was also a part of a Doordarshan documentary about Salman Khan’s fans.
“We have also been breaking clichés by celebrating Bhai’s birthday through social services. And there has been an added impetus on our cleanliness activities, since he became the ambassador of the Swachh Bharat campaign. We have also been supporting the cause of the city’s LGBTQ community, by raising funds for their rallies and fighting for their rights,” he adds.
Another unique facet of this club is to spread the message of ‘love over hatred’ by celebrating the birthday of Salman’s box office rival Shah Rukh Khan as well. “As opposed to this ugly social media battle between the two sets of fans, we had invited the members of the local SRK fan club to celebrate Friendship Day in 2015 with us. The objective is to develop a feeling of mutual respect between the two groups nationwide.”
Going forward, the club now aims to get officially registered as a social work organisation, ahead of the release of Tubelight this Eid. “We are more than 2,400 strong on Facebook at the moment. And once the ongoing paperwork is finalised, we will officially be able to spread Bhai’s messages in an even better manner,” concludes the Salman loyalist.