The most challenging task while writing a story about Salman Khan is to get quotes. Almost everyone this reporter tried to contact seemed reluctant to speak about the superstar. After 13 long years while the law took its serpentine course, when Bombay Sessions Court judge DW Deshpande finally announced the verdict, it was met with unexpected fury from Salman’s supporters inside the film industry and his fans across the country. All social media platforms were abuzz with laments lashing out against the judiciary and calling the verdict “unbelievable”, “unwarranted” and “shocking”.
What was more intriguing was the role the media played. As news channels focussed all their attention on the Salman Khan case and the interim bail that followed on the same day, it was rather ironical to see the endless reruns of Salman endorsements. Then there was this interview with one of those who had survived the film star’s wheels that fateful night in which the journalist asked, “Don’t you want compensation more than Salman Khan going to jail?” The man answered that he didn’t have a say on what the court decided but compensation wouldn’t be bad. Later this interview ran as a breaking news scroll with a quote that read something like this — Victim: We need compensation. Not jail for Salman.
“I feel the media is motivated by various factors besides the news,” social commentator and writer Santosh Desai tells Tehelka. “Reportage is no longer an unbiased record of events. What is at stake determines which news reaches the public and in what form. Say, for instance, in Salman Khan’s case, the media knows that there is tremendous public sympathy and they want to hear pro-Salman stories. Hence, that is what they will air. Because, at the end of the day, it is a business. There is a lot of money riding on Salman and the media, too, would benefit from it. Why then would they broadcast negative ideas about the actor?”
Profiles in Celebrity Crime
From rape to illegal possession of arms, from mowing down pedestrians under the influence of alcohol to slapping and abusing their fans, or simply being the arm candy of an underworld kingpin, many Bollywood biggies and notso- biggies have been there and done that. A quick glance at a few cases that exposed the tinsel town’s dark underbelly
SHINEY AHUJA – Actor
Shiney Ahuja became a promising name in Bollywood after Sudhir Mishra’s Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi hit the theatres. The movie earned critical acclaim and catapulted him to stardom. He was also given the Filmfare Best Male Debutant Award for the film. While Ahuja was still basking in the glow of debutant success, his career hit rock bottom in June 2009 when he was accused of raping his domestic help. He initially claimed that he had consensual sex with her but eventually confessed to the crime. Ahuja is out on bail and the court is yet to decide on his fate. Meanwhile, the actor is all set to revive his acting career with Anees Bazmee’s Welcome Back.
MADHUR BHANDARKAR – Director
Chandni Bar (2001) is as close to reality as Bollywood gets. Directed by Madhur Bhandarkar, the film earned him the National Award for the Best Film on Social Issues. But reality bit Bhandarkar when a struggling actress Preeti Jain accused him of offering her a film role and then raping her on 16 different occasions. Nine years later, the court dismissed all the charges against him.
GOVINDA – Actor
Santosh Rai was in for an unpleasant surprise when he visited the sets of Money Hai Toh Honey Hai to meet his favourite star Govinda in 2008. The actor allegedly lost his cool and slapped Rai when he found the latter misbehaving with the female artistes on the set. Rai filed a case against the actor, who was booked under sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 352 (assault or criminal force otherwise than on grave provocation) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code. Govinda has not pleaded guilty and the court is yet to pronounce the verdict.
Saif Ali Khan is one of the co-accused along with Salman Khan in the black buck poaching case. Along with some of his Hum Saath Saath Hain co-actors, Saif was booked for shooting the protected animals at a village close to Jodhpur in Rajasthan. The court is still hearing the case.
MONICA BEDI – Actress
Not many would remember a single movie of Monica Bedi. The actress who made her Bollywood debut in the mid-1990s is known more for having been married once to underworld don Abu Salem. Monica was in love with Salem when he was wanted by the Indian security agencies in connection with the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts case. After many years of a man-hunt, the couple was arrested when they tried to enter Portugal using forged documents and deported to India after serving a jail term in the European country. While Monica has been exonerated, Salem was not so lucky and continues to languish in the high-security Arthur Road prison in Mumbai
OM PURI – Actor
Veteran actor Om Puri had a run-in with the law after his wife Nandita filed an FIR accusing him of domestic violence. The actor allegedly thrashed Nandita with a wooden stick, injuring her neck and hand. Om Puri was arrested and granted bail after furnishing a bond of Rs 10,000. The 64-year-old actor was booked under sections 324 (causing hurt by dangerous means), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
FARDEEN KHAN – Actor
Before Fardeen Khan, son of the late Feroz Khan, became yet another flop star kid, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) arrested him in 2001 at the peak of his short-lived career in tinsel town on charges of trying to buy cocaine. The dealers, Nasir Shaikh and Tony Gomes, were also arrested in this case. The actor defended himself by saying he was only trying to buy 1 gram of the psychotropic substance but the NCB claimed that almost 9 grams of it were found on him and Shaikh. The case dragged on for 12 years until the sessions court granted him immunity from prosecution on the condition that he undergo a detox.
SHAH RUKH KHAN – Actor
The ugly side of the ‘Badshah of Bollywood’ Shah Rukh Khan was on display one day in 2012 when he had a skirmish with officials of the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. While Shah Rukh accused the MCA officials of manhandling his children, they alleged that he engaged in a drunken brawl with them. Shah Rukh’s kids Suhana and Aryan were present at the stadium to watch an IPL match between their dad’s team Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and the Mumbai Indians. After KKR won, everyone was ecstatic. But the thrill of victory soon turned into a nightmare when Shah Rukh got into a fight. He was banned from the stadium for five years.
SANJAY DUTT – Actor
Reel life ‘Munnabhai’ Sanjay Dutt and controversies go hand in hand. Sanjay was arrested under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) in April 1993. He was charged with illegally possessing a 9 mm pistol and an AK-56 assault rifle supplied to him by Abu Salem, then a key member of D-company that was accused of orchestrating 13 bomb blasts in Mumbai on 12 March 1993. Sanjay was granted bail in April 1995. On 21 March 2013, the Supreme Court of India sentenced him to five years in prison. Lodged in Pune’s Yerwada Central Jail, he keeps making news for being allowed extended periods on furlough.