Salman Khan
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Salman Khan: Fan-Tasy-Land..

Salman Khan

By HT

Mumbai, May 14 -- Last week, all roads leading to Bandstand, Bandra (W), were clogged with thousands of Salman Khan fans who had gathered outside his home, as a verdict was delivered in the 2002 hit-and-run case.

One of the fans, Gourango Kundu, even tried to commit suicide by consuming poison outside the Session's court. On Friday (May 8), when the Bombay High Court suspended Salman's jail sentence, there was mass hysteria outside the actor's home as his fans rejoiced, danced and burst crackers for hours.

Earlier this year, when singer Zayn Malik of the pop group, One Direction, announced his exit from the band, fans all over the world took to the Internet to express their disappointment. A form of an obsessive addictive disorder, Celebrity Worship Syndrome, exists among fans across sports, cinema and music personalities.

A research conducted by the British Journal of Psychology studied the behaviour of 600 people, and found that about a third of these suffered from the aforementioned condition. Riddhish K Maru, psychiatrist and relationship counsellor, says, "People have always been fascinated by the lives of famous people. The increase in the number of entertainment outlets and rise in the use of the Internet may explain the rise in hero-worship in India."

Going the distance

Sadik Sheikh (name changed), 24, is a die-hard Salman fan. He was among the hundreds who had gathered outside Salman's home during the recent court proceedings. "For me, Bhai (as Salman is fondly called) is everything. I don't know what would have happened to me if he was sent to jail," says Sheikh.

Tauseef Khan, 21, a diehard fan of Shah Rukh Khan, has been following the actor since his school days. He used to bunk classes to watch the actor's movies. Recently, when a movie featuring SRK was being shot outside Mannat (the actor's house in Bandra West), Khan was present for all the days of the shoot. "Every year, on Shah Rukh's birthday (November 2), I take my friends out to the best eateries I can afford. I save money for this day throughout the year. He is the most important person in my life," says Khan.

Fan and idol bonding

Gone are the days when fans would struggle to acquire their hero's address to send him a handwritten letter. Today, social media has brought the stars closer to their fans like never before.

Almost every actor has an account on social networking sites these days, and sending your message to them is just a click away. Also, thanks to several promotional activities, fans can now easily catch a glimpse of their favourite actors.

Stars often head to cinema halls post the release of their films to meet their admirers. Because of the Internet and several media events, the relationship between a fan and his idol has indeed come a long way.

Amitabh Bachchan interacts with his fans through Twitter and his blog. He also appears outside his house every Sunday to greet fans. Actors such as Ayushmann Khurrana, Varun Dhawan and Arjun Kapoor recently chatted live with their fans on Twitter. Kangana Ranaut bonds with her fans on her website. And these are just a few examples.

Extreme measures

Maru says that the bond between a loyal fan and his idol is long-lasting. "Despite having no personal contact with celebrities, fans build a connect with them through media exposure. Such relationships are called parasocial, and the bond that fans share with their idol through such relationships is like the one they experience in real life with their family members," says the psychiatrist. One such example is that of Sheikh, who has gone to the extent of skipping family functions, in the hope of catching a glimpse of Salman. "I once missed my cousin's wedding so that I could wait outside an event that was being attended by Bhai. My parents came to know where I was, and warned me to change my behaviour," says Sheikh.