The clock read 10.50 am when Sanjay Dutt, actor and Accused Number 117 in the 1993 serial blasts case, reached the special TADA court on Tuesday.
As the 47-year-old stepped out of a white Toyota Innova in a brown-and-red-checked shirt, one of the hundreds of fans waiting outside shouted: "Sanjay's blue shirt was a lucky charm. Why is he wearing a different shirt today?"
But irrespective of the colour he was wearing, the one thing that Dutt sported on Tuesday morning was a nervous look. Earlier in the morning, two priests visited Dutt's Pali Hill residence, indicating that a puja was underway.
Several visitors and friends dropped in to meet 'Sanju baba'. Producer-directors Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Raju Hirani, Sanjay Gupta and Bunty Walia and Congress Party workers Baba Siddiqui and Baldev Khosla visited the actor, as did friend Ajay Marwah, acquitted in the same case on Monday.
Around 10.05 am, Dutt appeared at the main exit of Imperial Heights wearing a tilak on the forehead. He hugged sister Priya and other friends before being driven away.
The Jivraj Ramji Boricha Road, where the TADA court is located, was choc-a-bloc with fans and traffic and came to a standstill. There was additional deployment of police personnel.
As Dutt walked towards the court entrance, fans wished him luck. "I am a Sanjay Dutt fan. I hope he goes scot-free," said Rajiv Mehta, who came all the way from Borivli.
It was a long wait for the crowd once the actor was inside. While some prayed for his acquittal, others climbed trees to get a glimpse of the courtroom drama. Some shouted slogans saying: "Baba is not a criminal" and "Let Sanjay go".
Some even distributed sweets in the hope that their hero would be free soon.
And sure enough, at 12.44 pm, news spread that the actor was found not guilty of conspiracy. Fans distributed pedas and played his songs on their cellphones. When Dutt emerged, he was whisked away in a black Ford in which his family was waiting for him.
Email: htmetro @hindustantimes.com