Outside his Bandra home Galaxy Apartments, fans cheered, chanted 'hip hip hurray' and sang Jumme Ki Raat, the hit song from the actor's 2014 film Kick. Salman's 50th birthday party had started early, they said - the actor will be 50 at the end of this month. Later in the evening, celebrity visitors began arriving, among them actress Waheeda Rehman, who is a close friend of Salman's stepmother Helen, his former girlfriend Sangeeta Bijlani, filmmaker and TIPS' boss Ramesh Taurani and actor Vikas Bhalla.
As the verdict was pronounced on Thursday afternoon, the 49-year-old actor broke down in court, surrounded by his family. "The decision of the trial court is set aside," the High Court sad in its order, ruling that the actor could not be convicted on the basis of the evidence produced by the prosecution.
Across town at Galaxy Apartments, the morning had begun slow but swiftly gathered momentum. Salman drove an hour or so to court from Karjat Studio, where he has been filming his next movie Sultan. His father Salim Khan was photographed leaving for court from Galaxy Apartments. The actor's sister Alvira Agnihotri was also in court, as she usually is. His other sister Arpita, who normally accomopanies Salman on court dates, is pregnant and was among the few family members waiting at the Khan residence.
The swelling crowd at Galaxy erupted in cheers after the court delivered its verdict. By late afternoon, police were helping manage people and traffic.
Among those who had gathered were out-of-towners from places like Kolkata and Nagpur. "We are very relieved. He has done something wrong but accidentally," they said. A young woman from Kashmir said she was very happy with the court's decision and that she had seen Salman Khan some months ago in her home state, filming the Kabir Khan-directed Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
Salman has not spoken to the press so far but issued this tweet some hours after the verdict:
I accept the decision of the judiciary with humility. I thank my family, friends & fans for their support & prayers .- Salman Khan (@BeingSalmanKhan) December 10, 2015
In May, when the Sessions Court convicted Salman, Galaxy Apartments was crowded with A-listers like Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Hrithik Rosan, Preity Zinta and Sonakshi Sinha. On Thursday morning, before the verdict, Mumbai politician Baba Siddique was the sole arrival.
"We are relieved. This is good news for Salman's family, friends and well-wishers," Mr Siddique told NDTV after the Salman Khan was acquitted.
On Twitter, congratulations began pouring in from several quarters of Bollywood, though the biggest guns were silent. Director Subhash Ghai, who co-produced the remake of his film Hero with Salman Khan this year, tweeted: "God is always kind to good human beings." Milap Zaveri, who wrote Salman's 2005 film Lucky: No Time For Love, wrote: "Justice prevails."
Salman Khan is accused of having drunkenly driving over pavement dwellers, killing one, in September 2002. In May this year, Salman Khan was found guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and sentenced to five years in jail by a Sessions Court. Two days later, the actor was granted bail by the High Court.
Salman Khan has had a blockbuster year at the box office with two films releasing - Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. Between them, the films have made over Rs 500 crores in India.