A flutter of activity heralds Salman Khan’s arrival at Mehboob Studios in Bandra, an upscale suburb in Mumbai. Staff members race to his car, whispering in hushed cohesion that “he’s here”, while bystanders look up from their phone screens.
Khan, who has dominated Hindi cinema for close to three decades along with the other two Khans, Shah Rukh and Aamir, has just begun shooting for Race 3
. But today, at the studio, just a few minutes away from his home, Khan doesn’t want to talk movies. Being Human Clothing, the apparel brand he formally launched with The Mandhana Retail Ventures Ltd. (MRVL) in 2012 to support the activities of the foundation he set up ten years ago, marks its fifth anniversary and he’s here to drum up attention for that landmark.
“We couldn’t keep asking people for donations, so we set up the clothing line,” says Khan, 52, of the start, blowing circles of smoke into the night air.
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We’re seated in the studio compound under a dimly lit blue tent. Even in the poor light, Khan’s angular, rough-hewn face and biceps—bulging from beneath his black Being Human polo—are visible. The Being Human brand is the soft foil to the obvious ruggedness. As is the origin story of the venture, which was triggered by his love for painting. After dabbling in it for a bit, Khan realised he was good and decided to get one of his artworks printed on a T-shirt. He wore it to actor Mithun Chakraborty’s son’s film’s music release in late 2010. Two days later, when he was driving past Linking Road—Bandra’s busy shopping street—he saw rip-offs of his T-shirt all over. “I told myself, ‘This is it. We’ll sell T-shirts to make money for the charity’,” recalls Khan.
A discussion with his family ensued and the idea took off in a small way in partnership with Cottonworld, the Mumbai-based clothing company. The T-shirt was retailed in three colours—black, white and grey—with the words ‘Being Human’ printed in small typeface. These were initially made in one batch of 5,000. “They flew off the shelves,” says Khan, “So we made another batch and those too sold out.”
It didn’t take long for him to realise that he was on to something big. He licensed the brand to Mandhana Industries, run by Khan’s then acquaintance and now friend Manish Mandhana, in 2011 for the design, manufacture, retail and distribution of clothing and accessories. In December 2016, Mandhana Industries spun off its subsidiary MRVL (formed in 2012), which handles Being Human Clothing, into a separate listed entity. “The idea was to create more long-term value for our stakeholders,” says Mandhana, adding that the company posted a topline of ₹216 crore in FY17 on net profits of around ₹20 crore. Mandhana pays Khan a licence fee [an undisclosed percentage of sales] for leveraging his brand.