OTHERS

Underworld funds most Bollywood films

MUMBAI, JAN. 7. Leading stars Ms. Rani Mukherjee and Ms. Preity Zinta are likely to be ``interviewed'' by police and a few more arrests are expected within a couple of days in connection with alleged links between Bollywood and the underworld, a top Mumbai police official has said.

The nexus between the underworld and Bollywood is slowly crystallising with an ``astonishing evidence'' indicating that about 60 per cent of the films are financed by mafia dons, the official said on condition of anonymity. As many as 20 films released recently are suspected to have been financed by the underworld don, Chhota Shakeel, who allegedly forced many stars into signing movies and rescheduling their shooting dates, he told PTI here.

Since the arrest of Mr. Nizim Rizvi, producer of the unreleased film Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, allegedly financed by Chhota Shakeel of the notorious Dawood Ibrahim gang, Crime Branch sleuths had got a lead and were now zeroing in on more ``go- betweens'' in the film industry, he said. ``A few more arrests within a couple of days are expected''.

Ms. Mukherjee and Ms. Zinta, who starred in Mr. Rizvi's film, would be interviewed to know whether they were aware of the producer's alleged mafia connections.

Mr. Rizvi, who was arrested on December 13 under various sections of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), has been charged with entering into a criminal conspiracy with Chhota Shakeel to eliminate eminent film personalities, including producer, Mr. Rakesh Roshan, who was attacked last year in an alleged extortion bid. The Mumbai Crime Branch, led by the Joint Commissioner of Police, Mr. D Sivanand, has effected two arrests in the case so far, and interrogated Mr. Salman Khan, who also acted in Mr. Rizvi's film.

Mr. Rizvi, once a clap man who was paid Rs. 1,000 a month rose to become assistant producer, making some `B' and `C' grade films and later shot into limelight with the Rs. 12.7 crores budget Chori Chori Chupke Chupke which featured Mr. Salman Khan, Ms. Rani Mukherjee and Ms Preity Zinta. Police believe the money came from Chhota Shakeel and they claim to have sufficient evidence to prove that Mr. Rizvi had acted as a front man for the underworld don. But the film's financier, Mr. Bharat Shah, maintained that he had financed through recorded payments. Mr. Rizvi also allegedly threatened actor-producer Mr. Ajay Devgan's secretary to reschedule the opening of Raju Chacha, which clashed with his film's release. It is alleged that Mr. Rizvi had used Shakeel to pressure stars to act in his films and forced many distributors to reschedule their films to get maximum profit for himself.

Film producer, Mr. Harish Sugandh, brother of producer, Mr. Jhamu Sugandh, has been summoned to city police headquarters and is likely to be quizzed tomorrow in connection with financing of his recent film, police sources said here today. Earlier, police recovered some documents and diaries from the producers' office here, the sources added.

- PTI

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