The controversial Salman Khan

  • 1 February 2013
  • From the section India
salman Khan and Katrina Kaif at launch of Ek Tha Tiger
Salman Khan is one of India's most bankable stars who has had five back-to-back hits since 2010

Salman Khan is that rare Bollywood star who has a huge fan following across the vast spectrum of Indian society.

When his latest film Dabangg2 - sequel to a hugely successful film in 2010 - was released over Christmas, it was screened in more than 3,500 theatres and the cinemas were packed for days.

At an upmarket multiplex in the south district of the Indian capital, Delhi, the crowds included the usual middle-class English-speaking audiences as well as the residents of a neighbouring slum for whom the 350-rupee ($6.6; £4) tickets could not have come cheap.

But his fame has brought with it a long-held image of a larger-than-life macho superstar who lives dangerously.

Now, an Indian court has ruled that he should face the serious charge of culpable homicide for a hit-and-run incident in 2002. A trial for a lesser charge has rumbled on for many years - he denies the charges.

Despite these setbacks, his fan base remains loyal and the hits have kept coming.

Although critics did not rate Dabanng2 highly, Khan's fans clearly did - there were catcalls when he romantically courted the heroine, loud whistles when he showed his dance moves and resounding claps when he beat up the "baddies".

The 47-year-old actor has starred in more than 80 films and is Bollywood's most bankable star. Five of his latest films - Dabangg, Ready, Bodyguard, Ek Tha Tiger and Dabangg2 - have been huge blockbusters.

The eldest of the three sons of well-known screenplay writer Salim Khan, he is a hit on social media too - his Facebook page is liked by 7.5 million fans while on Twitter, he has 3.36 million followers.

Brush with law

But there is another side to Khan.

Stories about his brawls at parties have long filled the Bollywood gossip columns, and his link-ups with some of his leading ladies have also proved controversial.

Salman Khan signs autographs for fans
Salman Khan has a huge fan following

In one notorious incident, an angry Khan was reported to have emptied a bottle of cola over the head of an ex-girlfriend in a restaurant.

Another relationship, with actress and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai, ended acrimoniously with Ms Rai later making allegations that she was beaten up by Khan - a charge he has denied.

But the 2002 incident in Mumbai was not his first brush with the law.

Khan was arrested in the western state of Rajasthan for illegally hunting and killing a protected blackbuck deer in 1998.

He was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison in 2006, but spent less than a week inside before being released on bail. His appeal is pending in court.

In the past few years, the actor has worked hard to shed his "bad boy" image - with some success.

His devotion to his family, particularly his brothers, is well known and he is reputed to go out of his way to help friends and even strangers.

A few years ago, he started Being Human, a charity to help the underprivileged through education and healthcare. The charity sells T-shirts and other products online and in stores, and the proceeds are used for charitable work.

His relationships with women also seem to have matured. Although he parted ways with actress Katrina Kaif some time ago, they remain good friends and the couple acted together in Ek Tha Tiger last year.

But the decision of a Mumbai court to charge the actor with culpable homicide shows that his past may well overshadow his current success.