While the TRP-hungry media and elitist audience are busy shedding tears for Sanjay Dutt after the Supreme Court sent him to jail for illegally possessing deadly weapons, but is anybody feeling concerned about how the links with the underworld has seriously affected our favourite Bollywood?
Instead of focusing on the humanitarian-non-humanitarian debate, isn't it more prudent if we raise a voice to back the Indian legal system in cleaning up the tinsel town from the grey shadow of the evil underworld which threatens the national security today?
Bollywood is not only a dream which attracts young talents but also an opportunity for the mafia to make make money by alluring unsuspecting filmmakers into a whirlpool from where there is no easy escape. Those who dare to defy the mafia pays for it dearly.
The link between the two world rocked the popular imagination after the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts when the names of Dutt and film producers lika Samir Hingora and Hanif Kadawala came to the fore, it was in the 1970s and 1980s when the nexus had surfaced although not as alarmingly. The kidnapping of the producer of a hit Amitabh Bachchan-starrer of the early 1980s was a big blow to the film industry in those times.
Bollywood-underworld connection was symbiotic in the initial years...
In the initial years, the link between the two world was more symbiotic. The underworld dons were easy sources of finance while the film industry lent the glamour factor to add spark to occasions organised by the dons and their aides.
The latter also dictated film plots and promoted the actors of their choice but the change in financial fortunes as a result of the slump in the market started bringing the dons closer to the film industry with desperate interests. Investing in good films became a priority for the cash-strapped underworld men and once they made an entry into the industry, non-monetary interests also gained prominence. As a result, successful filmmakers and actors started to fall prey to the underworld's evil designs.
The intimacy of Mandakini or Heena Kausar with underworld dons or presence of filmstars and dons in cricket stadium were once matters of gossip and attraction for the common Indian but soon the consequence of the nexus spilled over into the real life when 267 people were killed in devastating serial blasts in Mumbai in 1993.
...but it turned violent gradually
The nexus turned more and more blood-stained with the gruesome killing of popular filmmaker Gulshan Kumar in broad daylight in August 1997 for defying Abu Salem's monetary demands. Producer Mukesh Duggal was also killed that year.
Attacks were also attempted on producer Rajiv Rai and senior filmmaker Subhash Ghai over overseas rights of films, a few days before Kumar's murder. Three years later, actor-turned-director Rakesh Roshan had a close shave after he was shot at in Mumbai after he turned down demands to share profits accrued from the overseas sale of Hindi blockbuster Kaho Na... Pyaar Hain.
These, among many other similar incidents, rewrote a new chapter in the underworld-Bollywood link story and this fresh chapter said that the Bollywood wasn't relieved anymore.
The individual enmity between dons and filmmakers is a concern but the much bigger concern is when the underworld is being used to threaten the country's national security. Today, people like Dawood Ibrahim are not just dons looking to make money but also instruments in the hand of Pakistan to carry out massive destruction in our country.
Are there more links between Bollywood and underworld? We need to find out
By adding elements of drama to Sanjay Dutt's punishment, we are actually trivialising the bigger threat that the underworld can pose to India's integrity through the soft target called Bollywood. Just ensuring protection to one or two actor or debating whether Dutt should be exonerated are not the needs of the hour.
The actual task is to look for more links between the glamour world and the underworld which have the potential to harm our cause. The film and TV business have undergone a sea change in the last 20 years and the underworld hasn't surely not sat back all these days.
The professionals attached to the film and TV industries are more vulnerable to be manipulated today because of factors like globalisation and liberalisation and it makes it equally challenging for the Indian state to tighten the national security. Are we upto the mark to stop the emergence of more Sanjay Dutts?
Film professionals need to be more alert
Delinking the Bollywood and the underworld might not be completely possible for this matter involves human relations. But while the protectors of the nation need to continuously monitor these relations, it is also a big responsibility for the film professionals to ensure that they do not let themselves and the country down by falling into the trap laid by the underworld.
Sanjay Dutt might have been an immature youth who made a mistake by taking possession of an arm but the youngsters of this age should learn from Dutt's mistake by heart. Filmstars are the nation's role models and they can not afford to indulge in any kind of activity, even unsuspectingly, that might lead to a major harm to their followers.
It is thus not a time to cry for Sanjay Dutt's punishment. If he has perished because of his own error, let him but by displaying a soft corner for his stardom and seek his pardon, we will send across dangerous signals. An entire nation can not be put in peril just for one individual.