Salman Khan has been convicted in the 2002 hit-and-run case on Wednesday in Mumbai. Despite all the legal cases against the actor, the star enjoys a cult following in the country. It was there for all to see when a day before the verdict, #WeLoveSalmanKhan was the top India trend on Twitter.
Here are five reasons why so many people in India love him blindly and will continue to do so irrespective of Salman's conviction today.
Salman Khan began his career with a supporting role in Rekha-Farooq Shaikh-starrer Biwi Ho To Aisi when he was in his early twenties. He essayed many avatars on screen over the years and ran into several major controversies since that debut.
Salman has a history of picking up fights with co-actors (he had a tussle with Shah Rukh Khan at Katrina Kaif's birthday party in 2008 and allegedly threatened Vivek Oberoi) and troubled love affairs (Aishwarya Rai's parents filed a police complaint against the actor in 2002, alleging that he threatened and harassed the ex-Miss World).
Salman and Aishwarya in a still from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Other than the hit-and-run case, Salman has been charged with hunting black buck in Rajasthan during the shooting of Hum Saath Saath Hain in 2006.
However, in last 15 years, Salman Khan has strived hard to give himself an image makeover. In his maiden appearance on Koffee with Karan, Salman said he was making his choice of films as well as humanitarian endeavours based on one principle: He does not want to be a movie star who has a great fan following in his life and is forgotten in death. Salman further said he wanted to help others and do something so that people will remember him.
No one does it like Bhai
He is the masses' hero, the trend-setter. The kind of films he does rest on the persona of larger-than-life hero. Salman Khan spotted the potential of bizarre action sequences and macho movies which were huge hits down South but were never attempted in Bollywood. With Wanted (2009), Khan started the trend of remaking Tamil and Telugu films -- with almost no additional inputs for a different cultural milieu.
Salman Khan in Wanted
After Salman proved that movies with similar plot and scenes can make the audiences flock to theatres, stars such as Akshay Kumar (Rowdy Rathore and Boss) and Ajay Devgn (Son of Sardar and Action Jackson) thought of putting their bets on south remakes. In fact, Akshay and Ajay have now made far too many movies in the genre.
Do it like Bhai: Akshay followed a trend started by Salman
Salman: The name producers bank upon
Setting up the Being Human Foundation in 2007 was Salman's first major step towards re-branding himself. The 'brat' started investing time and money for philanthropic causes. The foundation runs a lifestyle brand, royalty from which is allotted for children in need. Salman has now focused on medical care and education for children. To gather money for the cause, Salman has also set up a production house - Salman Khan Being Human Productions, which has produced the National Film Award-winner for best children's film, Chillar Party (2011), and Canadian movie Dr Cabbie (2014).
Salman Khan in Kick.
Forbes India lists Salman as the top celebrity this year, he replaced Shah Rukh Khan. With earnings worth Rs 244.5 crore in 2014, Salman proves his credibility. Even a film like Jai Ho, which failed to work its magic, is one of the top grosser of the year. His next release Kick, starring Jacqueline Fernandes, was a huge hit at the box office.
Salman reportedly earns Rs 6 crore per week as the host of controversial reality TV show, Bigg Boss.
Salman's 'Dabangg' image has also bagged him several brand endorsements. Brands like Thumbs Up, Wheel and Relaxo rely on him to promote their products in their commercials, for which he reportedly charges Rs 8-10 crore per advertisement.
Films that are not just masala/non-sensical
Salman is credited for the story idea of Baaghi: A Rebel for Love (1990), a film that revolved around women forced into prostitution.
Starring opposite Revathi Menon in Love (1991), Salman did a heart-touching love story quite early in his career. Directed by Suresh Krishna, the film is the remake of Telugu blockbuster Prema.
Bollywood's cult comedy Andaz Apna Apna (1994) -- featuring Salman, Aamir Khan, Raveena Tandon, Karisma Kapoor and Paresh Rawal in the lead roles -- is the highest rated Bollywood movie on IMDb - 8.8.
Salman in Andaz Apna Apna
Salman has worked alongside Nana Patekar, Manisha Koirala, Seema Biswas and Helen in the critically acclaimed drama Khamoshi: The Musical (1996). The film marked Sanjay Leela Bhansali's directorial debut and won several awards.
After a lull, Salman returned to the limelight with Satish Kaushik's Tere Naam (2003). It is the second best rating any Salman movie has on IMDB - a rating of 7.1.
Bigg Boss just isn't worth watching without Salman
When the producers of Bigg Boss decided to extend the latest season of the controversial reality show, Salman Khan could not extend his contract because of prior commitments. Salman handed over the baton of hosting the show to choreographer-filmmaker Farah Khan who played the 'master' for a month. The show just wasn't fun enough without the bindaas comments of Salman Khan. The extended season only confirmed fans' fears that if there is no Salman, Bigg Boss ain't worth watching.
Salman in Bigg Boss