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The number 786, revered in Islamic culture, has found prominence in Bollywood over and over again -- remember Amitabh Bachchan's 'billa No.786' in "Coolie" and Shah Rukh Khan's 'qaidi No.786' in "Veer-Zaara". It
returns to the screen with Akshay Kumar's "Khiladi 786".
The number is said to be the total value of the letters 'Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim' (in the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful), according to one Arabic system of numerology. In Bollywood, quick to pick on what strikes an emotive note with superstitious viewers, 786 has been used either as a connotation for a character's invincibility or to denote how a truly god-blessed soul overcomes tough times.
In reality, however, the number is just a "ritualistic reference"; no more than that, says Firoz Bakht Ahmed, teacher and community worker.
"There is no doubt this number, 786, remains a holy number in the subcontinent, but it started as a trend. And now it has common acceptance.
"It is not some kind of force to reckon with. It just has a face value and has a ritualistic reference to it, just like there is an Om, a Trishul and a Swastika... it is no more than that," Ahmed, a grandnephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, told.
"It is just indicative of a belief. Like Sikhs say 'Wahe guru' to save themselves from evil, many people use 786 for the same reason. It doesn't mean it is god in itself and nothing can happen to you," he explained.
But for Bollywood filmmakers, still enough to forge that emotional connect.