It's been two weeks since Salman Khan, the legendary Indian actor and philanthropist, was in town to launch his Being Human clothing line and let me tell you, the excitement has still not died down. The cause continues to generate buzz and drive each of us with unparalleled passion. I was at the Masala! magazine’s Most Influential event two days back and people were constantly asking about Salman and his good work. Of all the charitable efforts we’ve made in the last 19 years, Being Human, which supports healthcare and education for people in need, has been the most talked-about and it’s received the most accolades from the industry.
As part of his trip to Dubai, Salman spent three days interacting with children, media, Splash and ICONIC staff and management as he spoke about Being Human, the cause he is most passionate about. The time was one of great learning for many of us, who not only witnessed the man's humane side, but also his strong business acumen, uncanny wit and humour. Promoting the Being Human clothing line and the Being Human Foundation was foremost on his agenda; the projects needed to be highlighted to journalists so people can learn about them and contribute in their own way.
Not only did he talk at length to the region's most popular media, he was sporting Being Human clothing throughout his visit, as is his habit. He said at one point, “If I can't wear a design or a particular style, I do not expect the people to wear it”. An extension of his own personal style, Salman handpicked the collection that is available only at Splash & ICONIC stores across the GCC region.
In what might have been a first for a celebrity of his stature, Salman had heart-to-heart conversations with the Splash and ICONIC staff, right from the store staff to senior management, and told them all about how and why Being Human came to be. He also spoke about how Being Human can be made into a successful business model and how maximum funds can be generated to provide education and healthcare for people in need.
By the second day, all of us were in awe of this man who was going around making a difference to the lives of everybody he was meeting. The stories we had heard about his love for kids were about to unfold in front of our eyes as Salman eagerly walked into the Rashid Paediatric Therapy Centre at 11.30 a.m., sharp. Who says celebrities can't keep their appointments?
A 30-minute visit turned into a three-hour heart-warming afternoon that’s firmly etched in the minds of everybody who saw Salman effortlessly interact with the special-needs kids. He played games like cricket and football, and happily joined the kids for a specially choreographed performance of his most popular songs. Salman also sang with the children and even sketched for them before leaving with a wide grin on his face.
The third day of his visit was the press conference and we were all a little nervous, thinking we had tired Salman with visits and interviews. But no, there he was, walking in ready to talk to the region's media, ensuring that they all went back with just one tale to tell: Being Human.
After a 1 hour 15 minute Q&A with plenty of the man’s signature wit and quirky smile, it was time for him to meet his fans who were patiently waiting at Splash and ICONIC stores for their hero. The crowds had lined up since 2 p.m., almost two hours before Salman was scheduled to arrive. His arrival brought forth a mass cheer, with everyone flocking and pushing to catch a glimpse of the man who has enthralled millions for more than two decades – and who is still India's most-eligible bachelor.
The response was phenomenal, Salman wanted to walk around the store, see his collection and interact with fans, but he had to make a quick exit when he saw two women faint because of excessive pushing, elders being shoved and kids being thrust in the crowd just to get closer. He asked people to calm down and was pained to see the excessive pushing and pulling just to get to him, which led him to make quick, memorable appearances at Splash in Mall of the Emirates and at ICONIC at Deira City Centre. Even short visits were enough to drive the fans crazy and Being Human merchandise sales went up by a substantial percentage.
Looking back with some perspective, now that it’s been half a month since Salman Khan was here, it’s clearer than ever that his appeal and popularity is unbelievable. The interest in him and support for him transcend beyond his movies and into his personal life, his fashion choices – and more importantly his human side, which connects him to people across ages, genders and most definitely nationalities.
We were moved time and again by Salman Khan’s compassion and level of caring for people in need. In a bid to add more to the cause, in addition to royalties from sales of Being Human clothes, Splash and ICONIC will also donate AED 1 to the Being Human Foundation for each garment sold.
In Salman's own words, “Look Good & Do Good”!