When Salman Khan screened his upcoming production Chillar Party for Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni at the Capital’s Film Division Auditorium on Tuesday, the grapevine was abuzz with whispers over how close the Bollywood superstar seems to be getting to the Congress these days. After all, Salman has been seen hobnobbing with the party’s power lot on several occasions. He is known to be quite close to the Gandhis, too. In April, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi stopped by at the actor’s Bandra home in Mumbai after witnessing India triumph over Sri Lanka at the ICC World Cup final at Wankhede Stadium. Salman, on his part, has been doing his bit for the party, campaigning for friends all over the country.
In fact, he was a permanent fixture at the 2009 rallies in support of Milind Deora, the Congress MP from south Mumbai. Deora, known to be an ace guitarist, shares Salman’s passion for music, too. Tuesday’s screening happened when bigwigs in the party reportedly sought a private screening in Delhi of Chillar Party, a film that incidentally marks Salman’s debut as producer. The actor readily obliged. While Rahul Gandhi was away, Soni, along with senior Congress minister Oscar Fernandes, attended the special screening.
Salman and his Bollywood bete noire Shah Rukh Khan are known to be Congress acolytes. SRK, in fact, was one of the first celebrities to congratulate Congress president Sonia Gandhi after the UPA rose to power in 2004. Reports suggest the 2009 election saw both the Khans temporarily fall out of favour with the party. There were rumours that the stars weren’t doing enough for the party and the ties had turned cold. Salman, who is on a winning spree at the box office right now with back to back blockbusters by way of last year’s Dabangg and his latest release Ready, has lately been on an image makeover spree. Shedding his bad boy image, he is out consolidating base as a do-gooder, mainly thanks to the activities of his NGO, Being Human. A bit of the political rub of course can only help in boosting the image further. Agencies