Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan on Monday thanked his fans for their continued love as he turned 55, promising a bigger and better party on his next birthday.
Khan's birthday has been an annual ritual with fans crowding outside his Bandra bungalow, Mannat, to get a glimpse of their favourite star.
The actor would oblige the sea of waiting admirers, by showing up routinely on a makeshift stand, blowing kisses, waving and striking his trademark arms-stretched pose.
While the street leading up to his house would be chock-a-block on his birthday - with even police barricading and security - the celebrations this year were muted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Khan posted a video on Twitter and said he was touched by the social work several of his fan clubs carried, including blood donation drive and distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits.
"More than wishing me on my birthday some of the work that you boys and girls have been doing, giving your time and resources to people who are in need right now... This is the most wonderful work that we can do. Because you can't be a lover boy like me without spreading love," he said in his signature witty style.
"Thank you all of you from far, near and through whatever resources we have. I love you all. Next year we will all get together and have a bigger better party... 56 is better than 55. I miss you all. A big hug to all," the actor, who is in Dubai for to support his team Kolkata Knight Riders at the ongoing Indian Premiere League, further said.
A week ago, in an Q&A session on Twitter, Khan had urged admirers to not gather outside his bungalow on his birthday.
"Please I recommend nobody should collect in crowds. My birthday or wherever! Iss baar ka pyaar... thodha door se yaar," he had said.
To ensure a crowd doesn't assemble and social distancing is maintained, three policemen were deployed outside Mannat. The wait to see Khan now seems never-ending, with his last on-screen outing being 2018's "Zero", as fans were expecting some kind of announcement in line with his previous birthday celebrations.
The Shah Rukh Khan Universe Fan Club, which has more than 4 lakh followers on Twitter, live-streamed a party with composer- singer Amaal Mallik performing for the fans.
Many fans, from London, New York, Malaysia and many parts of the country, joined a Twitter live session to cut cakes and wish Khan.
Cine stars, including Ayushmann Khurrana, Rajkummar Rao, Anushka Sharma, and Mahesh Babu, also took to Twitter to shower their love on the superstar.
The Delhi-born actor is one of the rare Bollywood 'outsiders' to reach the pinnacle of success in the Hindi film industry.
Khan made his film debut with Raj Kanwar's "Deewana" in 1992, after playing lead roles in popular TV shows "Fauji" (1988) and "Circus" (1989).
Soon, he found his first major success in "Baazigar", which was a beginning of a brief but powerful phase, where he gained acclaim by playing negative characters in "Darr" and "Anjaam".
Khan balanced it by playing the boy-next-door in "Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman" and "Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa".
But it was Adiya Chopra's "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge", 25 years ago which cemented his position in the industry as the King of Romance.
During a discussion on Pakistani channel Naya Daur TV to analyse on Khan's journey, filmmaker-writer Paromita Vohra said with "DDLJ", the actor broke the traditional Hindi film hero image of a man standing for nation and caring for society over personal life.
"With 'Dilwale...', he became this new kind of NRI hero, who allowed Indians to want the outside world. Our generation was told it's greedy to think of more money, it's not good to say 'I am the best' or be ambitious.
"But Shah Rukh was all of that. When he did 'DDLJ', he joined the idea of love and expanded the meaning of desire. He made space for what women wanted," Vohra said.
Khan catered to the image of flamboyant but sensitive lover till mid 2000s, often playing several versions of his romantic hero.
His roles in "Dil To Paagal Hai", "Yes Boss", "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai", "Mohabbatein", "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham", "Devdas", "Kal Ho Na Ho", "Main Hoon Na" and "Veer Zaara" only added to his global popularity.
The grand romantic hero image, however, never resonated with Khan, who has described himself as "introverted, shy and reclusive" in several interviews.
It's Khan's romantic hero phase that turned him into a mass influencer, despite criticism that these movies restricted him as a performer.
In between, there were quieter, more acclaimed films like "Swades" and "Chak De! India", giving a glimpse of the actor within a star.
The last few years of Khan have been about breaking free from this hero image built over two decades and still find the balance between box office glory and personal satisfaction.
His turn to experiment and push himself further led him to projects like "Fan", "Raees" and "Zero", where he played an obsessive admirer, a gangster and a vertically challenged man, respectively.
Though Khan earned praise for his performances, the films were not very successful in the changing landscape of Bollywood films which is moving from romantic-dramas to more rooted settings and real storytelling.
Asked how difficult it is to remain unfazed by others' work after being in the industry for over 25 years, Khan told PTI in 2017 that he doesn't feel the need to compare himself with colleagues.
"I am sure, I am being presumptuous, but there are a lot of people out there who say 'wish we become Shah Rukh Khan'. I am Shah Rukh Khan, so why should I want to be someone else?"