Mumbai, January 31: He may be shooting thousands of miles away in Cuba but the aura of Salman Khan was presiding over the most interesting maar-dhaad in recent memory.
On Monday morning, at a suburban night club where Sanjay Dutt had thrown a party to celebrate the success of his new film, Shah Rukh Khan bashed up an inebriated Shirish Kunder for misbehaving with him. And for good measure, Sanjay Dutt too slapped the director who was as high as a kite, and clearly overestimated his physical prowess.
So where does Sallu come into the picture?
Film editor and director Kunder who is a married to Farah Khan is a known Salman acolyte and after the famous falling out between Salman and Shah Rukh, has vocally showed his support for the former.
After RA.One's lukewarm reception he had tweeted, "I just heard a 150 crore firework fizzle." Kunder was also the reason for the end of the SRK-Farah Khan friendship after Shah Rukh refused to act in Tees Maar Khan, which Kunder directed and Farah produced, citing a poor script.
The acrimony between the two men which had been building up over the months reached a flashpoint when Shah Rukh reached Dutt's party past 3.30 am. A source close to the actor said, "Shirish started to tail Shah Rukh saying, 'I am waiting...I am waiting.' He even followed him to the men's room and deliberately bumped into him.
After he came out of the washroom Shah Rukh went up to Shirish, held him by the neck and said, 'My children were very hurt when you tweeted about the movie. I had promised them I would slap you when I meet you next but I won't. I am just warning you that don't mess with me,' said the source who did not wish to be identified.
Kunder did away with discretion as part of his valour and retorted: 'I give a f*** about you,' sending Shah Rukh into paroxysm of rage. Eye witnesses who had by now abandoned their drinks and gathered around, claim that Shah Rukh first pulled Kunder's hair as he tried to escape, then his tee-shirt, and slapped him then sat astride him as he tried to hit Kunder again, saying, 'I'll destroy you, and throw you out of the industry. Aur tere friend ko ja ke bol mein uski maar doonga.' But while Sanjay Dutt and others tried to separate the two men, Aurus owner and another close friend of Salman, Baba Dewan was heard protesting about the slight directed at his absent pal. But by this time SRK was so angry that even when his good friend Priyanka Chopra tried to intervene, he brushed her aside.
Just when it seemed that Kunder's tribulations were over, he tried to get up and drunkenly staggered in Sanjay Dutt's wife Manyata's direction. This enraged Sanju baba who drew up to his full height and delivered what music channels like to call, 'One Tight Slap.'
"I was so disgusted that I left the party," said Shirish Kunder when we called him in the sobriety of day for his version of events. He denied that Dutt had slapped him. Onlookers insist otherwise.
"I did not provoke Shah Rukh Khan. One never expects that someone will come and attack you like this. There were three bodyguards around him so it was a clear signal for me to be quiet," added Kunder who had earlier in the evening annoyed director Indra Kumar by misbehaving with his daughter. "Fortunately, she can take care of herself," said Indra Kumar.
Farah Khan staunchly defended her husband. "Shah Rukh has always told me that physical abuse is the worst way to sort out a problem. Physical violence simply implies that the person who's hitting has either a personal or professional crisis going on in his life. It saddens me to see him doing the same."
Salman Khan who heard about the fracas called up Kunder later on Monday to find out what had transpired and offer support. But the fight has deeply divided the industry with many openly coming out in SRK's favour. "Shirish and Farah should be grateful to SRK, he has done so much for Farah," tweeted Amisha Patel.
"I was present at Sanju's party and without any bias I fully support Shah Rukh," tweeted photographer Dabboo Ratnani.
Through the entire fight and subsequently, the management of the night club kept its stiff upper lip. "The restaurant does not intervene in the personal matters of its guests. There could have been a misunderstanding between the guests and unless things get out of control, we do not get involved," said its spokesperson.
The evening ended with Baba Dewan and Shah Rukh Khan driving to Mannat. No doubt to once again take the evening apart.