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Wednesday, May 27, 1998

Bollywood under threat again

S Hussain Zaidi  
MUMBAI, May 26: Ominous whispers hiss the `K-word' over the telephone wires of three Bollywood producers, threatening to draw a crimson stain across the silver screen once again. ``Pay up two `khokhas' (Rs 2 crore) or face dire consequences,'' the voice says while lacing the threat with a slew of expletives. The horror script brings back chilling memories of the Gulshan Kumar murder, when the audio-cassette magnate was shot dead by the Abu Salem gang following similar threats in August last year.

The potential hits include Rakesh Roshan, Mukesh Bhatt and Boney Kapoor, a police officer says, adding that Tips Cassette Company owner, Ramesh Taurani, is also being squeezed for the same amount.

While Roshan and Bhatt have been hearing from the anonymous caller since a month, Boney Kapoor was threatened about two months ago, a senior police officer told Express Newsline.

All three producers, with mega-productions in the pipeline, have been singled out by the Bahrain-based gangster Ali Budesh, who isalso suspected to have ordered the deaths of builder Natwarlal Desai last year and Copper Chimney steward Keith Rodrigues in April.

The police officer says the calls were made by Budesh's confidante and India-based vizier Dilawar Khan, who has also brazenly suggested a way out. Each producer has been given the `option' to to sell their overseas distribution rights to a Dubai-based company suggested by Budesh, of course, the police officer disclosed.

While Bhatt has two films due for release - the Sanjay Dutt-Kajol starrer, `Dushman' and Aamir Khan-starrer `Ghulam' - Roshan has announced his mega-project starring son Hritik and Randhir Kapoor's younger daughter, Karina. Boney Kapoor's magnum opus, `Pukar' starring Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dikshit is almost complete.

Police have provided armed security to Roshan and Bhatt, while Boney Kapoor and wife Sridevi have shifted to Hyderabad.

In fact, an intruder gained access to Roshan's Juhu residence early this month.

None of theproducers nor their associates were willing to comment on the threats. While Roshan is abroad, Bhatt's public relations officer denied the calls.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Dr P S Pasricha offered a cryptic: ``We cannot discuss security arrangements but appropriate action has been taken wherever necessary.''

Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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