There are fans. And then there are mega fans. With Pathaan marking Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s comeback after four years, fan clubs across the country are opting for nothing less than the royal treatment to show their love for King Khan, as the film releases on January 25.
Take, for instance, the SRK Fans Association Bengaluru, which was founded by Guru Magaji two decades ago. Alongside organising a first-day-first-show of the film at Abhinaya Theatre in Bengaluru, members of the club are spending the nights leading up to release day at the theatre itself, decorating the space with posters and a 54-feet cutout of the actor.
Similar plans are on the cards of fan clubs across India. Shah Rukh Khan Universe Fans, co-founded by Mumbai-based Yash Paryani, claims to have had over 50,000 sold out slots for first-day-first-show screenings across 200 cities. The club even got Gaiety Cinema, part of the famous G7 Multiplex in Mumbai, to raise their curtains early. “The first screening of the day always begins after 12 p.m. there. But just for Pathaan, for the first time in their history, they will showcase a movie at 9 a.m.,” says 26-year-old Paryani.
Bike rally in Bengaluru
Pathaan’s release date was announced in March 2022 and although it was still months away, most clubs leapt into action. “We didn’t want just social media promotions, our on-ground efforts had to be big too,” says Bengaluru-based Pritesh P Dedhia, who co-founded Team SRK Warriors with Javed Shaikh. In the first week of January, members put up 15,000 posters across the 35 cities they are present in, all self-sponsored.
First-day-first-show fanfare and revelry aside, the club is also organising a bike rally in Bengaluru, from Urvashi Theatre to PVR in Koramangala, with more pomp and posters. “We will watch the movie twice on the same day. The first time, of course, is to see Shah Rukh back on screen. The second is to actually watch the movie,” says Dedhia with a laugh.
Fans line up multiple viewings
Deepak Kulkarni, the vice-president of SRK Fans Association Bangalore, too has three viewings lined up. Two on the day the film releases, and the third in the second week, as part of his fan club’s ‘ Baar baar dekho Pathaan’ campaign. “Even my boss knows I’m not going to be available the day of the release. So when I asked him for leave, he already knew why,” says Kulkarni, who besides being a full-time fan, also works in a cyber security company.
During the last four years, fans have celebrated milestone anniversaries of Khan’s other films. 2021 marked 21 years of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, whereas Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge completed 25 years in 2020.
But to see their idol return to the big screen, after a wait of four years, is nothing short of “surreal”, says Paryani. “It’s really exciting to see him do action, which he already aced in Don,” he adds.
Khan’s look in the film has also left fans excited. The long hair, in particular, is a ‘mane’ attraction. “He has worked so hard for those abs and the long-haired look was last seen in Don. So I’m looking forward to seeing him in this avatar again,” says Dedhia.
“Even at 57, Shah Rukh Khan is delivering something like this, which for fans, is a morale booster. And now with Pathaan, it feels like something good is happening after four years,” says Kulkarni.