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Wednesday, 10 April, 2002, 09:46 GMT 10:46 UK
Bollywood mafia links denied
Screenings of Chori Chori Chupke Chupke were under armed guard
Makers of one film are in court over underworld charges
The Indian film industry is not controlled by organised crime gangs despite a popular belief to the contrary, according to one of the country's most successful directors.

The underworld's control of the industry is "exaggerated beyond anything", Ram Gopal Varma has said.

Bharat Shah (right)
Bharat Shah (right): Charged with illegal financing
His views came as the trial of a film financier accused of using money from mafia-style money to fund Bollywood films began.

Ram Gopal Varma said the general perception of underworld involvement was "completely false".

"The criminal influence of organised crime is nowhere near what the media and public perceive it as," he said.

The Bollywood film industry, based in Bombay, makes around 800 films each year - compared with Hollywood's 100 - many of which are watched by millions across Asia, the Middle East and the world.

'Assassinations'

Financier Bharat Shah's trial began last week after being investigated over the sources of funding of the hit film Chori Chori Chupke Chupke.

The film's producer Nazeem Rizvi is also accused of having contact with criminal gangs.

Bollywood has also seen a number of suspected underworld shootings over the last few years.

Producer Mukesh Duggal and manufacturing boss Gulshan Kumar are among those to have been killed, while assassination attempts have been made against producer Rakesh Roshan and director Rajiv Rai.

Relationships

Ram Gopal Varma's latest film, Company, examines the Bombay underworld - but he denies that it is based on a real story.

"I just tried to draw a parallel between a company and an underworld organization," he said.

"It examines relationships at various levels of people caught in a certain system."

He is best-known for his film hits Satya, Jungle and Rangeela.

See also:

09 Mar 01 | South Asia
Bollywood 'underworld' film is sell-out
12 Feb 01 | South Asia
Seized Bollywood movie gets release
08 Jan 01 | South Asia
Top Bollywood producer arrested
15 Dec 00 | South Asia
Underworld scandal rocks Bollywood
04 Nov 98 | South Asia
Bombay gets tough on gangsters
06 Apr 02 | Film
Lagaan scoops Bollywood awards
21 Mar 02 | Film
Bollywood goes on display
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