The National award-winning kid Shams Patel who plays a street orphan in Thanks Maa is not only a huge fan of Salman Khan but he likes to be known as 'Salman Khan' throughout the film.
Says the film's director Irfan Kamal, "In fact Salman plays a very important in the film. Shams' character is a big fan and we see posters of Salman's films like Tere Naam and Saawariya throughout the film. Considering how important Salman is to the theme I badly wanted to show my film to him. But he is too busy."
The film's director Irfan Kamal struggled for more than three years to put together his story of a street kid's search for an infant's mother. Considering he's the son of the legendary choreographer Master Kamal (who made every glam-queen of the 1960s and 70s dance to his tunes) the least Irfan expected was the bigwigs of the industry to take note of the film.
Trying not to sound bitter, Irfan says, "I've knocked on every A-lister's door in our industry. Let alone help my small film in reaching out to the audience, no one has even agreed to see my film except Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar and David Dhawan. But it's ok. I'm not bitter. Of course my father was a very important part of this film industry. But why should I be granted any favours because of my father? I want my film to be judged on its own merits. But for that to happen people have to watch the film."
Irfan is keen that Salman watch the film. "Since Salman is a very important part of the script I want him to watch the film. In fact when I wrote Thanks Maa, the first person I narrated it to was Salman. He was very excited about the film then. I don't know what happened after that. Salman's father Salim Khan Saab has seen the film. But not Salman."
Irfan has been desperately trying to reach the actor. But he has been told Salman is busy shooting in Wahi and has no time to spare. This of course is hard to believe, coming as it does from a star known to be all-heart and ready to drive down to the other end of the world to see a smile on a fan's face.
But all that has changed now, thanks to the female fan on a wheelchair whom last month Salman met, spoke kindly even gave money to. Now the lady has accused Salman of exploiting her handicap to promote his film and has demanded a huge sum of money from him. Says a source close to Salman, "He is very very hurt by this incident. Salmanbhai has always gone out of his way to be a people's person. But he has been in principle against ever using fans for publicity. The whole incident has made Salman cautious of the people who want to use his name."
But the question is, should Salman's large-heartedness be cramped by one incident? Says the boy Shams Patel who plays Salman's fan. "I play Salman's fan in the film and I'm his biggest fan in real life. I really want him to watch the film."