It was a fusion of charity, humanism, fashion and glamour in Dubai when Bollywood's most bankable star Salman Khan came down to attend the launch of his "Being Human" clothing line in all Splash and Iconic stores across the Gulf last week. The brand, which supports Being Human Foundation, a charity set up by Khan for helping the cause of the underprivileged, was unveiled at The Address Hotel in Dubai, and the event was attended by Khan himself and Raza Beig, CEO of Splash and ICONIC, besides a number of top executives and fans of the star.
Khan, who in 2004 was voted the seventh best looking man in the world and the best looking man in India by People magazine, US, entered the hotel's Cigar Lounge for the Arab News interview wearing the Being Human T-shirt, along with his trusted guard Shera, manager Reshma and sister Alvira Khan. At the very outset, Khan said that he was in the UAE to promote a cause that is "very dear to his heart." Besides Beig, Suresh Srinivas, national marketing manager for Al-Bandar Trading, an enterprise of Landmark Retail Ltd., was also present.
"My mother is the inspiration behind establishing Being Human Foundation, which today strives to make a difference for the poor and underprivileged sections of society in my country," said Khan, urging people, especially the young boys and girls across the Gulf states and India, to buy Being Human clothes from Splash and Iconic stores in support of the noble cause.
The Being Human clothing line is now available in all Splash and Iconic stores in Saudi Arabia. The actor also revealed his intention to visit Saudi Arabia early next year. "Plans are afoot to even launch a chapter for the charitable trust on those very shores," he added.
Khan's much-anticipated action film Ek Tha Tiger, being billed by most in the trade as the biggest release of the year, is about to be released in August. In fact, with Katrina Kaif as the female lead, Kabir Khan as the director, and the legendary Yash Raj Films as its producer, the film seems to have got everything going in its favor.
Asked about his other upcoming films, Khan said he had given preference to his home production - a film titled Sher Khan directed by his brother Sohail Khan, in addition to director Shirish Kunder's Kick, because "these two projects had been pending for quite some time."
In fact, Khan wants to start work on Sher Khan and Kick before the year-end. The female lead of Sher Khan is yet to be finalized. Kick, on the other hand, is the Hindi remake of the Tamil super hit Thillalangadi, which was remade in Telugu and titled Kick, said Khan. Sajid Nadiadwala is producing the Hindi remake.
In fact, Khan appears to be on a South film remake spree, striking gold with the Hindi versions of Southern remakes such as Ready (2011) and Bodyguard (2011). The actor, who made his acting debut with his first commercial success, Maine Pyar Kiya in 1989, for which he won a Filmfare Award in the Best Male Debut category, has left several stalwarts of Bollywood far behind in terms of popularity and performance not only in India, but globally as well, and especially in the Middle East.
This Indian film actor, who starred in highly successful blockbusters, such as, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, No Entry, Partner and Wanted, rose on the top of the success chart with Dabangg in 2010 and Bodyguard last year. These films have, in fact, established Khan as the most successful actor of Hindi cinema with a huge following overseas. For his performance in Dabangg, Khan received a Star Screen Award for Best Actor and a Stardust Award for Star of the Year (Male).
However, it is his role as a humanist and the title he has earned of a philanthropist that has made 46-year-old Khan so endearing to his fans.
Unfortunately, very little has ever been written about Salman Khan, the do-gooder. Those close to him, whom the Arab News met in Dubai, say that even before Khan became the star he is today, he would often visit hospitals, help out and donate blood. He has a particular interest in health care, especially for cancer and HIV/AIDS patients, and intends to build hospitals.
"It's no wonder then that his Being Human Foundation, launched six years ago, focuses on providing free health care and education to needy children across India," said a Being Human Foundation worker traveling with Khan. The trust has since grown into an art movement (Khan is an accomplished painter), a fashion and accessories line, and later this year will become a chain of cafes or restaurants, she said, without elaborating.
Commenting on the Being Human Foundation business model, the Bollywood superstar said: "It is a charitable trust and we ensure that our operational cost is as little as possible. We don't spend any money from the proceeds but rather 100 percent of the profits go into the foundation. We help those who need to study further and we use money where we can save a life," while adding that proceeds from the sales of Splash and Iconic will go to the charity.
Khan said money can save lives and that everyone does charity in his/her own way. "We will be focusing on health and education as priority areas for our charity." He said that there will be new additions to the product range of Being Human, which will gradually include watches and items for women and children in the next two months and will be available across Splash and Iconic stores. "I will also bring my paintings here to raise money," said Khan.
A team of designers meticulously decides the look of the apparel line. "I give my input, which is influenced by what I wear and what I think my fans would like to wear. Once they have put in their ideas, I improvise here and there. They usually chuck the stuff I don't like," Khan added.
He said he tried to give more time to the cause that has inspired him, his family and friends, as well as fans across the globe.
The focus of the major projects undertaken by the Being Human Foundation remains areas of health and education. "The profits generated by the initiative that has been launched by Splash and Iconic will support poor students and will be utilized for the treatment of underprivileged people," said Khan. He also said that he had plans to "secure the release of hundreds of prisoners languishing in jails, who have completed their jail terms but are unable to come out because of the financial obligations, including legal fines."
The project, he said, has already been launched. More than 400 prisoners currently in Indian jails are enlisted to receive support from the Being Human Foundation. "But, it is a complex procedure that involves a battery of legal experts, lawyers and voluntary workers to find out how these prisoners can be released and eventually reintegrated into the mainstream of Indian society," said Khan. These prisoners, who were booked on minor offenses, have already finished their sentences.
Any support extended by the charity will eventually go a long way in making them good human beings in future, he noted. How did the idea of helping prisoners come to his mind? The superstar said he "learned about this problem from his jail-mates." It may be recalled that Khan was arrested in August 2007, when the court rejected his appeal against a sentence for shooting endangered gazelles.
Khan said that he had plans to open restaurants whose profits will be used for projects launched by his foundation. He said: "I am planning to launch or team up with a chain of restaurants." He did not spell out other details of the restaurant, such as its format, services, etc. He candidly admitted that the charity was facing financial constraints at the moment.
On the second day during his visit to Dubai, the actor addressed the local media. Surrounded by bodyguards, paparazzi and hysterical fans, Khan made his appearance in The Address Hotel to answer questions and to formally launch the Being Human clothing line. A large number of journalists from Gulf and Indian TV channels and newspapers attended the press conference in which he answered questions about the charity and his films.
Addressing newsmen, Khan said: "I am delighted that Splash and Iconic will now make Being Human clothing available across the region. All fashion labels are about looking good, Being Human is also about doing good." After the press conference, the actor also visited the Splash store in the Mall of the Emirates and Iconic store in Deira City Center in Dubai to meet and interact with his fans. Both the malls visited by Khan were packed with excited fans.
During the press meet, Splash and Iconic CEO Beig thanked Manish Mandhana, managing director, Mandhana Industries of India, for introducing Being Human to the brand and actively promoting the launch. The line-up offers 29 options in T-shirts for men while carrying the signature Being Human tagline, which is the core and the underlying principle. Semi-formal trousers, denims, shorts and shirts in various styles are also part of the entire gamut of offerings from the brand, said Beig.
Splash, which has a number of stores in Saudi Arabia, is the Middle East's largest fashion retailer and part of the Dubai-based Landmark Group. It is one of the biggest retail conglomerates in the Middle East and India. Founded in 1993 as a single brand store in Sharjah, Splash has grown to over 150 stores and 50 brand stores across 11 countries including the Kingdom. With an eye for the latest global trends and reflecting an everyday attitude, Splash's “Fashion 365” binds together a collection that creates a definite style statement.
Enlightening on the future plans of Splash and Iconic, Beig said: "Splash has taken a step forward into the world of fashion by realigning its products to meet the ever-changing lifestyle demands of its customers and re-instating their trust in the brand. Showcasing popular collections for men, women and teens, Splash has revamped its existing product portfolio and introduced a unique brand concept across its stores."
He said Splash had received several significant industry accolades. On the other hand, Iconic represents a unique spirit, making it stand out from any other fashion store. It is a destination where fashion, innovation and lifestyle collide. A brand that represents fashion regardless of gender, age or personality, Iconic offers fashion apparel, footwear, accessories, beauty items and gifts for men, women and children, all under one roof.