Nepal’s ‘royal dabangs’ hail Salman Khan

Kathmandu, Sep 13 (Calcutta Tube) His off-the-cuff remarks about the terror attacks in Mumbai may have netted Bollywood star Salman Khan acid criticism in India, but his new avatar Chulbul ‘Robinhood’ Pandey has been reaping praise and admiration from both high and low in neighbouring Nepal.

The dishonest cop with a heart of gold played by Salman in his new release ‘Dabangg’ – meaning powerful and fearless – has received rave reviews in Nepal where the film was released Friday in nine of the most prominent theatres across the nation.

While the critics acknowledged the 44-year-old as having played the role to the hilt, the audience during the weekend included Nepal’s own dabang — its former royal family.

Nearly a dozen people, including a large number of bodyguards, trooped to the capital’s new theatre, the BIG Cinemas launched by the Reliance group, to watch the Salman-starrer Sunday.

Former crown princess Himani, who ranks as the coolest mom in the former royal family taking her children out on picnics and festivals, led the group with her son Hridayendranath – who was once the second in line to the throne of Nepal after his father Paras, her two daughters Purnika and Krittika, a niece and a nanny.

Caught by the media as they emerged from the cinema after more than two hours, a smiling Himani exchanged a few words with them, saying they had come to watch the film for entertainment and enjoyed it.

The former royals are probably among the biggest watchers of Hindi films in Nepal.

In the past, Purnika chose to celebrate a birthday by going to school as the school authorities had organised the screening of Hrithik Roshan-starrer ‘Krrish’.

The royal palace, that has now become a museum, boasts of a cinema where, according to the state media, the members of the family gathered in the past to watch Hindi films.

Even the arch enemy of the former royals, the Maoists, are serious followers of Bollywood in Nepal though with a different taste in movies.

Former Maoist finance minister Baburam Bhattarai and his wife, former tourism minister Hisila Yami, are now virtually regulars at theatres showing talked-about Bollywood films like ‘Peepli Live’, ‘Raajneeti’ and ‘Rann’.

Asked to name their favourite film stars, most of Nepal’s politicians name Bollywood icons, especially legends like Madhubala and Nargis.

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