After more than three days of wait and watch, Sanjay Dutt's moment of freedom was almost anti-climatic.
The actor, who was released from Yerwada jail in Pune this morning after the Supreme Court granted him interim bail on Monday, arrived much earlier than expected, taking fans, media and even the police by surprise.
When the 45-year-old actor arrived at his suburban Bandra residence at 8:30 am, the usual horde of fans was missing, as most of them had expected his arrival only by mid-morning.
Even the police were caught unaware.
"We had called in 25 extra police personnel from nearby Bandra police station, anticipating trouble from the crowd when he arrived. But there was no need because he arrived well before they did," one of the policemen stationed outside Dutt's residence said.
Fans missed the emotional welcome that the actor got from his family. As soon as he got out of the car, Sanjay kissed nephew Siddharth (Priya Dutt's son), and hugged both his sisters, Priya and Namrata.
Brothers-in-law Owen Roncon and Kumar Gaurav were also witness to the emotional homecoming.
Sanjay was in jail since July 31, the day when the special TADA court sentenced him to six years rigorous imprisonment for illegal possession of arms in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.
Dutt's sprawling residence in the Imperial Heights building in the posh Bandra neighbourhood of Pali Hill has been jammed with supporters from the film fraternity ever since he got bail on Monday.
Outside the gates, fans too kept a constant vigil, hoping to catch a glimpse of their favourite "Munnabhai", but when the moment did arrive, there were hardly any fans to witness it.
Only one person, Azam Shaikh, who came all the way from Ujjain, was present when the actor arrived.
"I am from Ujjain and I have been camping here for the past three days. I am from the Sankatmochan temple there. Dutt had come there to pray in the past. I am hoping to meet him," Shaikh said.
Many of Dutt's friends from the film industry, including Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who produced the hit Munnabhai movies, were seen arriving at his residence. Yusuf Nulwala, who accompanied the star from Pune to his residence, however left after a while.
A steady stream of visitors is expected to keep up at the Dutt residence, and even though the family will be aware that this is merely temporary relief for Sanjay, they will be keen to spend every minute with him.
For sisters Priya and Namrata, the fact that their brother will be with them for the festival of Rakhsha Bandhan which celebrates the brother-sister relationship, would surely be a cause of joy.