Thirteen years ago, a promo of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's romantic drama Saawariya showed Ranbir Kapoor croon 'Yoon Shabnami' for Sonam K Ahuja on Eid. As he pointed towards the skies, a dozen men, dressed impeccably in spotless white kurtas, sang in chorus, "Dekho chand aaya... chand nazar aaya." The subsequent crescendo in the qawwali then cut to a shot of Salman Khan emerging from the shadows, announcing his arrival.
Ever since, Salman has unfailingly appeared on our screens every Eid in similar grand fashion. He has been synonymous with the Eid ka chaand. Not metaphorically, but by the virtue of his indispensability . He has also had releases on other festivals like Christmas (Tiger Zinda Hai) and Diwali (Prem Ratan Dhan Payo), but Eid and Salman come in a package now.
This year, Salman was scheduled to reunite with his Saawariya and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam director Bhansali for Insha-allah, a romantic drama opposite Alia Bhatt. It was slotted as Salman's big-ticket Eid 2020 release but the actor opted out of the film late last year, after creative differences with the filmmaker.
Bhai fans wondered, "But can there be Eid without Salman Khan?"
After Salman promised he would still make it to Eid 2020, there was speculation about whether he would churn out either Dabangg 4, Race 4, Tiger 3 or Kick 2. And then he announced Radhe: India's Most Wanted. The title worked at various levels since Salman is "the most wanted" on Eid. It is also a spiritual sequel to his 2009 blockbuster Wanted, that both resurrected his stardom and kicked off the ritual of an annual Bhai release on Eid.
For Radhe, he has reunited with yet another director of immense importance in his career. Prabhu Deva directed both Wanted and Dabangg 3, that released last year at the same time Salman exited Insha-allah. He assembled Prabhu from Dabangg 3, Disha Patani and Jackie Shroff from Bharat (the Eid release last year), and Randeep Hooda from Kick, and voila! Radhe is ready to be served.
But all the prayers of Bhai fans weren't answered. A couple of months before Eid, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a lockdown to facilitate social distancing in order to combat the coronavirus outbreak. The lockdown has continued for over two months now, and even Bhai has not been able to beat the virus.
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Salman is making the most of the lockdown though, having isolated himself to his Panvel farmhouse. As is evident via Instagram, he is also hosting his Kick and Race 3 co-star Jacqueline Fernandez at his farmhouse. He took some time out from the editing of Radhe (yes, he is taking 'keen interest'; and I'm so looking forward) to make a music video with Jacqueline, called 'Tere Bina.' His fans must be singing along, "Tere bina, with-aout youuu" as they look forward to a Bhai-less Eid.
An Eid without Bhai is 2020 without social distancing, a rehashed T-Series number without Nora Fatehi, Indian OTT shows without 'edgy' content, and Marvel films without a Stan Lee cameo.
Or in Bhai terms, an Eid without Salman Khan is Radhe without firoza, Chulbul Pandey without sunglasses, Lovely Singh (from Bodyguard) without biceps, Tiger without Zoya, Bajrangi without Munni lounging on his back, Sultan without langot, Sikander (from Race 3) without his gliding power, Bharat without the Forrest Gump hangover, an Eid reunion without a hug with SRK, and Salman Khan with a shirt. Phew! That is an Eid throwback right there.
The biggest shock of no Bhai this Eid, however, must be that of Manoj Desai, who owns Gaiety Galaxy, the single screen in Bandra, Mumbai that opens its floodgates whenever a new Salman film is in town. He had once said the true testament to the success of a film is the number of samosas sold at the food counter. This Eid will pass without a Salman Khan film selling like hot samosas. This year, all his fans will stay at home, and watch a past Eid release on a streaming platform, while singing Bhai's unmatched lyrics from the Race 3 song, "Ek bar bae-bay, selfish ho ke apne liye jiyo na."
But how can we live with an Eid so selfish that it does not involve celebrating a new Salman Khan movie together in Gaiety FDFS? It is almost as if " gasp " he is saying, "My Eid is my Eid. None of your Eid."
Until next year, Salman.