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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 April 2006, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Bollywood shock at star's verdict
By Monica Chadha
BBC News, Mumbai

Salman Khan
Khan has seven films lined up and a lot of money is riding on him
Bollywood is reeling from the shock of one of its top actors, Salman Khan, being sentenced to five years in jail for poaching a rare antelope.

This is not only a rare case of a film star being given a rigorous punishment but several film projects in which he was starring have been put at risk.

Khan, 40, spent last night in Jodhpur Central Jail following the verdict.

He faces two other court cases relating to the 1998 hunting trip in Jodhpur when two black bucks were killed.

Khan has always denied any wrong-doing and his lawyers said he will appeal in a higher court.

'Universal appeal'

The editor of weekly film trade magazine Box Office, Vinod Mirani told the BBC the actor is presently starring in about seven film projects that are under production and his absence puts an investment of almost 18 million dollars at risk.

"Salman is one Bollywood actor who enjoys universal appeal. People all over India and abroad love him and that's why he is always in so much demand.

I feel he has paid the price of being an actor
Ravi Chopra, film-maker

"His performance has also been consistent and every year he has managed to deliver a hit."

These seven projects include Babul (Father's Home), Saanwariya (Beloved), Partner, God Tussi Great Ho (God You Are Great) and London Dreams.

Mr Mirani also said this verdict will not affect Khan's future prospects in any manner.

"Producers will continue to sign him in their movies... He's not going away from the industry anytime soon."

Price of fame

Film-maker Ravi Chopra had signed Khan for his film Babul (Father's Home) and finished almost 50% of the shooting.

Actor Salman Khan is escorted by policemen through a crowd outside Jodhpur District Court in India
Salman Khan is one of Bollywood's biggest stars

He had hoped to finish the other half on schedule and release it in October this year.

However, with the actor being sent to prison, there is some uncertainty about whether he will manage to follow through with his plans.

Despite that, Mr Chopra told the BBC he is not worried about his movie as much as he is worried about Khan.

"I am not nervous about my project at all. If anything, I am not happy about the treatment being given to Salman Khan," he said.

"I don't think whatever happened, if it had happened at all, needed the kind of punishment that was given to him. I feel he has paid the price of being an actor."

The odds may be stacked up against Khan, but industry people believe he will manage to appeal against the verdict and get out on bail.

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