Arjun Rampal will essay the role of gangster Arun Gawli in his upcoming film Daddy. Shraddha Kapoor portrays Dawood Ibrahim’s sister Haseena Parkar in the film of the same name. Shah Rukh Khan played bootlegger-turned don in Rahul Dholakia’s Raees. It is alleged that the film was loosely based on Abdul Latif, the gangster who terrorised Gujarat in the late 80s and early 90s. Bollywood has long faced accusations of glorifying the underworld in its films.
The Hindi film industry came at the crosshairs of the Mumbai underworld in the 1990s. The gangsters used extortion calls, death threats and even carried out attacks to instil fear within Bollywood. There were reports of film producers seeking the assistance of underworld in financing their films and even ceding to their extortion demands. Besides this, there were allegations of some film stars attending parties and other events hosted by the members of the underworld. Here’s a list of 9 prominent celebs who were at the receiving end of the high-handedness of the mafia.
Shah Rukh Khan: Shah Rukh Khan has portrayed a fearless gangster in Don, Don 2 and Raees. However, King Khan had to deal with the underworld in the past. In an interview to TOI in 2002, he revealed an incident when he was pressurised by Dawood Ibrahim’s henchman Chota Shakeel to act in a movie. SRK said he was also pressurised by Abu Salem to do a film. When he refused, he was threatened.
Gulshan Kumar: In 1997, cassette king Gulshan Kumar was shot dead in broad daylight while coming out of a temple at Jeet Nagar in Mumbai’s Juhu area. The assailants pumped 16 bullets into him in an incident that left the film industry reeling in fear. His brother Kishan Kumar had told the court that Abu Salem had been threatening Kumar to purchase video and audio rights of music composer Nadeem Saifi’s albums or face dire consequences.
Sanjay Dutt: Sanjay Dutt has served a jail term for illegally possessing arms during the 1993 bomb blasts. He has been accused of having connections with the underworld. In 2002, The Outlook published a controversial tape of the telephonic conversation between him and Chota Shakeel that created ripples in the film fraternity. However, Dutt’s friendship with Shakeel irked Abu Salem, who had recently fallen out with the D-Company. According to S Hussain Zaidi’s book My Name is Abu Salem, the gangster had ordered his hitmen to go after Dutt and kill him wherever he was. The actor who was shooting for Kaante at that time, got a whiff of the murderous plan and was holed in a hotel room with director Sanjay Gupta for few days. Salem suspected Dutt of being involved in a conspiracy hatched by Shakeel to eliminate him.
Salman Khan: Salman Khan’s ugly breakup with Aishwarya Rai is well known in the public domain. In 2006, Hindustan Times published a transcript of the telephonic conversation between the Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam co-actors that sparked a major controversy. In the transcript, Salman not only abused Aishwarya, but also forced her to perform at an event hosted by Abu Salem. Later on, the tapes were found to be fake.
Karan Johar: In his book An Unsuitable Boy, Karan Johar revealed the moment when he received a death threat from none other than Abu Salem, who asked him not to release Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. His directorial debut was supposed to clash with Amitabh Bachchan and Govinda’s Bade Miyan Chote Miyan. Johar revealed how Shah Rukh Khan stood up for him and the film not only got released but emerged as an all-time blockbuster.
Preity Zinta: Bollywood’s dimpled actress Preity Zinta is known for her brave stance in real life. In 2001, she shared the screen space with Salman Khan and Rani Mukerji in Chori Chori Chupke Chupke. The film was alleged to have received funding by the underworld. During the court hearing, she was the only film star to have told the court about receiving extortion threats. Preity was felicitated with the Godfrey Philips National Bravery Award for her stance.
Arjun Rampal: Arjun Rampal is essaying the role of gangster-politician Arun Gawli in his upcoming film Daddy. The trailer of the film was unveiled and the actor has got into the skin of his character. In 2015, Rampal was served the summons by the Mumbai Police for meeting Gawli at JJ Hospital. The meeting between the two reportedly took place at the ward number 4 of the hospital wherein the dreaded gangster was brought for a medical check up.
Rakesh Roshan: Rakesh Roshan launched his son Hrithik Roshan with Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai. Soon, he began to get extortion calls from the underworld. In 2001, Roshan survived a murderous bid outside his Santacruz office. It is alleged that the hit took place by shooters belonging to Abu Salem’s gang.
Subhash Ghai: Also known as Bollywood’s showman due to hits like Karma, Saudaagar, Pardes and Ram Lakhan, Subhash Ghai remained at the crosshairs of the underworld. The filmmaker refused to give international distribution rights of his films to Abu Salem. A furious don is said to have hired hitmen to eliminate Ghai in Mumbai. But the police got a whiff of it and the assassins were nabbed before they could execute the orders.