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Screaming fans from across Europe showered flowers, notes and trinkets as Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan performed at Ahoy, Rotterdam's large cultural and sports complex, to launch the world premiere of Temptations Reloaded, a live song and dance show that saw a number of Indian stars descend on the city on Saturday (June 21) night.
Shah Rukh performed on stage with Bollywood favourites like Arjun Rampal, Katrina Kaif and Kareena Kapoor in an auditorium with a capacity of 25,000 before a mixed audience of Asians and Europeans.
In between the two-and-half-hour long show, Shah Rukh and Arjun Rampal drove through the aisles of the auditorium in light vehicles and the venue echoed with the adoring screams of fans, some of whom showered them with trinkets, flowers and notes.
Some European fans were dressed in Indian clothes and referred to the Bollywood superstar as the 'Saudagar of Sunshine'. And Dutch fans preferred to watch Shah Rukh instead of the Euro 2008 football championship semi-finals between Holland and Russia played around the same time.
In a continent starved of warmth for most parts of the year, King Khan is called 'sunshine' by his fans here.
Ignoring weather forecasts that had predicted clouds and rainfall, fans travelled from all over Europe to witness the live performance.
With stars in their eyes, cine buffs arrived here under clear blue skies to watch the midsummer night performance and to sigh that the mere presence of Shah Rukh Khan makes clouds part.
"Shah Rukh Khan is our sunshine! When he is close to us, the worst day becomes bright. He fills my life with light and warmth," an Indian female fan said rubbishing weather forecasts.
"Bollywood makes you happy" is the slogan for marketing popular Indian cinema in Europe, suggestive of the fact that Hindi movies create a state of emotional well-being that goes far beyond mere entertainment.
This is the reason for a dramatic increase in Bollywood fan communities on this continent whose activities revolve mostly around Shah Rukh Khan and his work.
"Bollywood makes European audiences happy because the films are like life seen in dreams," Sgolne Roudot, a French fan who is researching fans of Indian cinema in France, told IANS.
Colours, costumes, music, dance and Shah Rukh's charismatic screen presence have brought much joy into many lives here.
An online Swiss fan forum has a special web page filled with thank you notes to Shah Rukh for coming to Europe. The notes thank the superstar for the colour that he brings into lives and for being the light for fans in the dark.
"Such feelings become stronger at the possibility of a meeting with Shah Rukh Khan. The desire is to touch him in an attempt to experience some more of the joy and happiness that he radiates," Elke Mader, a professor of Vienna University who monitors the behaviour of non-South Asian fans of Shah Rukh Khan for Bollyglobal, a research project, told IANS.
Mader gives the example of Christina Zck, a Berlin-based artist who has publicly confessed that her life was magically transformed after she touched Shah Rukh at the Berlin Film Fesival of "Om Shanti Om" earlier this year.
"The experience of fans like Christina goes beyond admiring Shah Rukh Khan as a movie star. Shah Rukh is seen much more than just an entertainer here. He is happiness and love personified. Fans want to touch him and to talk to him because he is able to transfer a lot of joy to those who are lucky enough to cross his path," Mader said
Hosted by Netherland's Sekier Entertainment Service, the next European stop of Temptations Reloaded, a sequel to the 'Temptations' tour Shah Rukh started in 2004, is Berlin.
Founded in 1999 by Ishaq Sekier, a Dutchman originally from an Indian family from Surinam, with an evening of songs by Manna Dey, the entertainment service has since sponsored Sonu Nigam, Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Sunidhi Chauhan, Shaan, Shreya Ghosal, Kavita Krishnamurti, KK and Jagjit Singh here.
"We would like to see Bollywood activities increase around continental Europe," Monique Dabloe, a Sekier staff member, told IANS.
Indo-Asian News Service