The 1,000-odd people crammed into the foyer of the Emirates Palace auditorium greeted the star cast of "My Name Is Khan" with screams and claps, as the movie had its world premiere in Abu Dhabi last night (Feb 10).
Walking the narrow strip of the red carpet first were sponsors, studio bosses and the crew. The crowd grew restless, chanting 'Shah Rukh, Shah Rukh', as the wait lengthened. The chants subsided only when Karan Johar and Kajol walked in.
"We're thrilled to be here, to be showing our movie in Abu Dhabi for the first time. Hope you like it as much as we enjoyed making it," Karan Johar told the media lining the rope.
K-Jo was wearing his own collection, while Kajol glowed in a red and black Manish Malhotra sari. "Thank you so much for having us here," she said, again and again.
The director and the heroine of "My Name Is Khan" shook hands and signed autographs with their fans, before moving into the auditorium.
A few minutes of silence and then a roar from the crowd. We knew Shah Rukh was on the red carpet. Very smart in a Karan Johar creation, he stopped at every media cluster to talk and shake hands. "I feel sorry that my movie may not get the opening it deserves in my own city. But I hope and pray it all works out," he said.
Shah Rukh bent down to hug a little girl right in front of me and then the frenzy began. The fans flooded into the area reserved for the media and begged him for autographs and pictures. He obliged, for as long as he could, before he was ushered into the imposing auditorium.
Inside the theatre
Once inside, the same fans greeted K-Jo, SRK and Kajol with roars of approval as they went up on stage to say a few words ahead of the screening of "My Name Is Khan".
"I may sound shaky and scattered because I am really nervous. This is the first official screening of my film," Karan Johar said. "It is a part of my heart. A part of the heart of every team member I'm proud to have the film flagged off in Abu Dhabi."
"This is the finest piece of role, character, that anyone has written for us," said Shah Rukh Khan, thanking K-Jo for letting him and Kajol be a part of "My Name Is Khan".
"I hope you like the film. And even if you don't we're not returning the money," he said, triggering laughter and claps among his fans.
As the reviews have said repeatedly, "My Name Is Khan" is a deeply moving and powerful film. Director Karan Johar has gone on record to say he has stepped out of his comfort zone in this movie. And that is evident.
There are no songs and dances; there is no colour-co-ordinated world and there are no overly-emotive scenes. A taut story of alienation, isolation, deep grief and ultimate triumph, "My Name Is Khan" uses the background of 9/11 brilliantly to tell the very personal story of Rizwan Khan, a Muslim man with autism in America.
SRK, as expected, is brilliant, under emoting instead of over emoting, as he usually does. Kajol actually outshines him in certain scenes. The support cast, particularly Zarina Wahab and Pravin Dabbas, were excellent as well. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's music, subtly used, helped convey emotions the way words couldn't have.
The movie could have been half an hour shorter though, and it is definitely not a watch for children.