Bollywood’s liaison with the underworld is an open secret, dating back to the ’70s when two dons were seen hobnobbing with a veteran star at film events.
Shah Rukh Khan was given extra security after he allegedly received a threat call from underworld don, Ravi Pujari prior to the release of Happy New Year. He is also said to have purchased a bombproof car following the phone call. Pic/Satyajit Desai
The mafia’s involvement in tinseltown grew deeper when it supposedly started resolving financial disputes between producers and financiers, and later between filmmakers and actors. Periodic reports of threat calls, extortions and firing have since followed, robbing the industry of its peace.
Mahesh Bhatt was apparently on the underworld’s hit-list, too
During the ’90s, underworld activity was at its peak, keeping the Mumbai police on its toes. However, gradually, the mafia was said to be losing its hold over the film industry.
But, going by the recent threat calls and foiled attacks on Bollywood A-listers, the dreaded underworld appears to be rearing its head. On November 15, police arrested seven persons from Khar for allegedly planning an attack on Mahesh Bhatt and seized three pistols and 15 bullets from them.
Police interrogation revealed that they had been directed by an overseas gangster to attack the filmmaker. hitlist rewinds to some recent as well as old episodes of this dangerous nexus between B-Town and U-World
>> Shah Rukh Khan’s security was beefed up following threats from the underworld prior to the release of Happy New Year. It is said that three unidentified, bike-borne men opened fire at the star’s rumoured business partner and film producer Ali Morani’s Juhu bungalow in the last week of August.
Reports suggested that he received extortion calls from fugitive gangster, Ravi Pujari the week before and a note was found at the site of the shooting that read, ‘SRK will be the next target.’ A few days later, Shah Rukh allegedly received a threat from the underworld. So did his co-stars Boman Irani and Sonu Sood.
>> In October 2013, Akshay Kumar had received death threats over phone from a man who claimed to be Ravi Pujari. Reports said the caller threatened Akshay with reference to a domestic help, who had recently been sacked by the actor.
>> Twenty days prior to the Akshay episode, singer Sonu Nigam received threat calls from underworld don Chhota Shakeel asking the singer to change the event management company that was to handle his 2014 World Tour.
Ram Gopal Varma
>> Producer Boney Kapoor received death threats over the phone from an anonymous caller, suspected to be linked to underworld don Ravi Pujari’s gang, in September 2013. As per reports, the caller had issued the death threat blaming Kapoor for the arrest of two of his two gang men.
>> Filmmaker Karan Johar had also received extortion threats via text messages from an unknown number, also in September last year. He was provided armed guards protection.
>> Last year in July, Ram Gopal Varma had reportedly threatened to omit certain lines from his gangster flick, Satya 2.
>> Members of the Ejaz Lakdawala gang allegedly barged into producer Sajid Nadiadwala’s office and threatened him in April 2010.
He was given police security following the incident.
>> Filmmaker Rajiv Rai, who has several blockbuster hits like Tridev, Mohra and Gupt to his credit, had to flee the country after a supposed murder attempt by the underworld in 1997. After a long precautionary stay in the UK, he returned to India only in 2011.
>> In August that year, musician Gulshan Kumar apparently received extortion calls from gangster Abu Salem demanding Rs 10 crore and on refusal, was shot dead by two hit men outside a Shiva temple in Andheri.
>> In January 2000, Rakesh Roshan was shot at by two armed men outside his Santacruz office. The filmmaker was saved by his driver who rushed him to the hospital. Roshan is believed to have received threat calls from the underworld in 2004 too.
>> Film financier and diamond merchant Bharat Shah was arrested for his alleged underworld links in 2001. This arrest led to a conviction in 2003 for not disclosing fellow producer Nazim Rizwi’s nexus with the underworld. Rizwi and his assistant, Abdul Rahim Allahbaksh Khan were also found convicted of forging links with the underworld to extort film personalities.