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Tuesday, 30 July, 2002, 17:31 GMT 18:31 UK
Bollywood stars win protection
Screenings of Chori Chori Chukpe Chukpe were under armed guard
Many film personalities have sought security
The authorities in the western Indian state of Maharashtra have promised to provide security to all film stars whose lives are thought to be in danger.

The move follows the release of a recording by police of what they say was a conversation between Indian film star Sanjay Dutt and a leading member of an organised crime syndicate.

The police allege the tapes contain threats made against the lives of two other Bollywood superstars, Hrithik Roshan and Govinda.

Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan: Said to be extortion target
The release of the tapes is reported to have created fresh security fears in the Bombay film industry.

Maharashtra's deputy home minister Chagan Bhujbal said that all those who went to the police seeking refuge would receive what he described as "adequate protection".

"Earlier, people were not coming forward with complaints that they have been facing threats from the mafia," Mr Bhujbal said.

"But of late they have been doing this and most of those seeking security are from Bollywood."

Long list of targets

Police say a number of key film personalities have received threats in recent years.

Bharat Shah (right)
Direct Bharat Shah is accused of mafia links
Popular film actors Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan and Hrithik Roshan's father, film producer Rakesh Roshan, are among reported extortion targets for the gangsters.

Two weeks ago the Bombay police killed four gunmen, who, officials said had links with a notorious criminal gang.

They were allegedly on their way to kidnap one of Bollywood's top stars, Manisha Koirala.

Earlier this year the police shot dead a number of men said to be plotting the murder of film star Amir Khan and director Ashutosh Gowarikar, the team behind the Oscar-nominated "Lagaan".

Mafia 'loans'

Many believe the murder of top film producer Gulshan Kumar in broad daylight in 1997 was the first real indication of the underworld's growing hold in Bollywood.

"It was from then that the industry's people got scared as they believed that not even the police could save them," producer-director Mahesh Bhatt told the AFP news agency.

Film critics say that while the annual turnover of Bollywood is estimated at $500m, it has always had cash-flow problems.

Until very recently, the Indian Government refused to give the film world the status of a proper "industry", making it impossible for producers to get bank loans.

The producers had to turn elsewhere for finance, and some parts of the film business attracted investment from the city's burgeoning underworld, insiders say.

"All those who are indebted to the mafia are the main targets," said a film critic.

See also:

29 Jul 02 | South Asia
10 Apr 02 | Film
09 Mar 01 | South Asia
12 Feb 01 | South Asia
08 Jan 01 | South Asia
15 Dec 00 | South Asia
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