Updated: October 27, 2021 7:58:08 am
On Tuesday evening, high-school students, Latif Khan, 20, and Niyaz Shaikh, 17, waited outside Mannat, actor Shah Rukh Khan’s residence in Bandra.
With Aryan Khan’s bail hearing in progress, Latif and Niyaz, from Kurla and Thane respectively, came armed with posters of solidarity. Latif designs these posters, mainly a collage of Shah Rukh Khan’s and Aryan Khan’s photographs, with messages offering the fans’ unwavering support.
They also had with them a highly-guarded rolled-up banner but, as the sun set behind on Bandstand promenade, these die-hard fans of King Khan know that it will have to be unfurled another day. Aryan’s bail plea—his third since he was detained and arrested on October 2—has been adjourned to Wednesday. The banner, the fans said disappointedly, reads “Welcome Home Prince Aryan”.
“We are here for SRK Sir. We are standing here for him and we hope that this difficult time will be over for him soon,” said Latif, who calls himself “Latif SRKian”.
Latif, who apprentices in AC-repair and earns about Rs15,000 monthly, funds the printing—a poster costs Rs50 and a banner Rs250. Latif and Niyaz became friends through a fan club called Team Shah Rukh Khan, which has more than 4 million followers on Facebook. Both have been paying a daily visit outside Mannat ever since Aryan was detained by the NCB on October 2. “Theatres have opened again. There should have been a jashn here,” Latif said.
Latif and Niyaz are among the curious and eager crowds that gather outside Mannat everyday. Since Aryan’s arrest, many such fans come to Mannat with similar posters and placards, holding vigil.
In Mumbai, Mannat is a pilgrimage site, with tourists and fans paying homage to the residence with selfies and group photographs. With its tall metal gates and an unremarkable signboard, Mannat’s iconicity has less to do with its
architecture and more to do with its prime resident.
Sana Shaikh, 26, a Lokhandwala resident, came to Mannat on Monday evening, her young daughters in tow. “He has his own charm onscreen and offscreen. All his fans are devastated,” said Sana. Growing up to his songs, Sana said visited Mannat once in her childhood. This was her second visit here and with the sole purpose of comforting the actor.
Her adoration for Shah Rukh Khan has been passed on to her daughters, she said, who jointly held up a hand-written poster with the message, “Aryan Bhai come back soon”. “I saw a recent post on social media [which showed Shah Rukh Khan at Arthur Road Jail] which said, “You said patience and I heard SRK”. It’s beautiful to see people coming out to support Aryan and that is all SRK’s handwork that is blooming in this dark time,” she said.
Mannat draws fans specially on November 2, Shah Rukh Khan’s birthday. The actor usually comes right up to the compound fencing to wave and greet the gathering. “This year, it’s doubtful if he will come on his birthday,” said Rashid (surname withheld), 25, from Sion. He comes by Mannat in the evenings and said that he can feel a change in the ambience. “Because SRK is stressed, the security guards are also stressed. Usually they talk to us, but now they are not,” he said.
Fans and fan clubs are likely to tone down the actor’s birthday celebrations. Yash Paryani, 25, who manages Shah Rukh Khan Fan Club – SRK Universe, a fan club with a following of 3 million on Facebook, said that they usually throw a party for fans and do charity work on November 2.
“This year, we shall be following our idol’s footsteps and doing only charity, most likely,” Paryani said. This fan club has also been conducting solidarity meet-ups of fans since Aryan’s arrest, with a poster that reads, “We all fans from every corner of the world love you deeply and unconditionally…Take care King!”
Fans clubs and fans said that they are responsible for countering the hashtags against Shah Rukh Khan on social media. “We made sure that when there were negative trends, we trended positive hashtags,” Paryani said. If there was a “#BoycottSRK”, fans ensured there was a “#StandWithSRK”.
On Monday night, a group of social workers who work with marginalised communities, celebrated a member’s birthday outside Mannat’s gates. As they huddled together for a selfie outside’s Mannat’s signage, one of them alone chose not to participate. Reshma (surname withheld), stood metres away from the photo-op and said, “SRK remained silent when the Hathras case happened or now when the Saki Naka rape and murder case happened. Just because it’s his son now, why should we care?”
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