All the gathered fans went delirious bursting firecrackers, waving banners that read ‘Stay Strong Prince Aryan’ and chants of “We love Shah Rukh”, even as security guards and a posse of policemen jostled to provide the actor’s car a safe passage back into the building.
If the crowd lined up on pavements outside Arthur Road jail kept the police on their toes, with barricades and ropes to keep onlookers within limits and an eye on suspected pickpockets following reports of at least seven mobile phone thefts outside the jail on Friday, it was a busy day for some of SRK’s biggest fans too.
Cops and guards struggled to control the large crowd in a lane leading to Mannat, SRK’s home, on Saturday
As the wait for the star son’s arrival grew longer, a man kept the crowd intrigued with his “bhavishya vani” or fortune-telling for the Khan family while two others stopped by to regale fans with the quintessential SRK song ‘Tujhe dekha toh yeh jaana sanam’ on their shehnai and dafli.
“Aaj bahut din baad khushi ka mahaul hai,” said Lateef Khan, a 20-year-old from Kurla and member of Team Shah Rukh Khan, a fan club with more than 2 million followers. Upset at not being able to welcome back “Prince Khan” on Friday, he refused to go home and camped with a friend instead in order to board the 6am train for Aryan’s grand arrival.
It was the fifth time in the past two weeks that Omkar Chavan (24) and Ashwini Gupta (22) had travelled from Kalyan to Bandra in order to stand by their hero. “I’m so happy that Aryan is free. Yeh hai sachhai ki jeet,” said Chavan, promising to distribute sweets among the poor in celebration of Aryan’s homecoming, which hit a crescendo with a dhol tasha group signalling his arrival, even as father and son remained hidden behind the darkened windows of the Range Rover.
Arthur Road jail built in 1925 is one of the most crowded prisons in the state. Although its official capacity is 800, it currently houses around 2,800 inmates.
However, Aryan’s co-accused Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha, who were also granted bail on Thursday, were still in jail as formalities took time.
Arbaaz’s father, Aslam Merchant, said they had completed the court formalities so his son, too, could walk free on Sunday.
The NCB had arrested 20 accused in the cruise drugs bust case, of whom 14, including Aryan, Arbaaz and Munmun, have been granted bail. Justice Nitin Sambre in his release order for the trio had set out 14 stringent bail conditions, including immediate surrender of passport, a weekly three-hour attendance at the NCB office, no statements to media, the requirement to join in the investigation when called upon to do so and not to delay the trial once it starts.